By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
GRAND RAPIDS – Detroit Edison’s mission has been pretty clear from the opening tip this season.
The Pioneers, off two straight Class C championships, opted up to Division 2 this winter and then defeated most of the best teams from the rest of the state – including three Division 1 semifinalists and the top-ranked team in Division 3.
While Haslett did give Edison its first tournament game this winter closer than 30 points in Friday’s last Semifinal at Van Noord Arena, the Pioneers pulled away early and prevailed 70-43 to make the final day of the season for the third straight winter.
They’ll go for their third straight MHSAA championship Saturday against Freeland in the 6:15 p.m. title game. It will be an opportunity to add one more achievement to a large stack over the last three seasons, and a crowning one for lone senior Rickea Jackson, who was named this year’s Miss Basketball earlier this week.
“(It’s) just to finish out strong with the challenges we overcame this year,” Jackson said. “Everyone knows who we are, so for us to have this huge target on our back and for us to make it this far, it just means we’ve been working hard in practice and we’re seeing our hard work pay off.”
Edison improved to 26-1 this season and 70-7 over the last three, its only defeat this winter to Ohio power Columbus Africentric 65-60. It will try to become the sixth school to win three straight MHSAA girls basketball championships, joining Flint Northern, Detroit Country Day (twice), Waterford Our Lady, Portland St. Patrick and Leland.
The Pioneers began with a little bit of a different starting lineup Friday, but it didn’t change up much in terms of results. A Jackson basket with 5:29 to go in the second quarter pushed the advantage to double digits for the first time and permanently.
Jackson finished with 26 points and eight rebounds, and junior Gabrielle Elliott – another member of all three Finals teams – added 21 points and four assists.
The unranked Vikings (19-7) had defeated three other ranked teams during this postseason to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 2015. But No. 1 Edison presented a strong challenge to their perimeter shooting and held Haslett to just 2-of-14 from 3-point range.
“Typically we’re a really good 3-point shooting team – we actually set a school record this year for the most 3-point field goals made – and I thought we got good looks. But with their length and athleticism they speed you up and those looks close pretty quickly,” Haslett coach Ross Baker said. “Maybe if we hit a couple of those early, we could’ve built a little more momentum. But … anything we’ve asked these girls to do, they do it 110 percent. I thought we handled their pressure. They’re really long. I thought we were really competitive on the glass – I think in the first half we were about even, but the second half we ran out of steam.”
Sophomore forward Skyla Nosek led Haslett with 16 points, and senior guard Ella McKinney added 15.
“Our eighth grade year was when Haslett was in the championship. And being honest, coming in freshman year I thought we’d make a tournament run too,” McKinney said. “We got a tough draw with East Lansing and lost in the first game, but ever since that we’ve had a little bit of fire to push ourselves in the postseason. This year we knew we had a special team, and being seniors we wanted to be leaders and to carry the team as far as we could. It was something really special, and we’ll never forget being here – and playing against a great team is pretty great too.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Edison’s Rickea Jackson rises above Haslett’s defenders to launch a shot during Friday’s second Division 2 Semifinal at Van Noord Arena. (Middle) Haslett’s Brooke Bradley works to get around Edison's Damiya Hagemann.
Championship time is quickly approaching this girls basketball season.
We’re still three weeks out from the start of District play. But league contenders are clashing all over the state, with a handful of conferences finishing up their schedules this week and several favorites facing off soon with titles on the line. We make mention of a number of those below.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. West Bloomfield 59, Detroit Edison 49 Last season, West Bloomfield (15-2) became the first in-state team to defeat Edison (12-3) since 2018 – and the Lakers have become the only one to do so again this winter.
2. Maple City Glen Lake 51, Traverse City St. Francis 45 The Lakers (13-2) are up to No. 2 in Division 4 MPR, while St. Francis (12-2) sits No. 4 in Division 3.
3. Holt 55, DeWitt 53 The Rams (14-2) sit alone atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue after sending the Panthers (13-2) into second in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.
4. Hancock 50, Calumet 47 The Bulldogs (13-1) maintained their one-game lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference West with their second win this season over third-place Calumet (11-3). Both are among the top seven statewide in Division 3 MPR.
5. Detroit Edison 44, Farmington Hills Mercy 42 The Pioneers bounced back from the West Bloomfield loss with a pair of close wins, this one over Mercy (14-2) followed by a one-pointer over Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Saturday.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (11-5) After a 2-4 start with those losses to top Division 1 and 2 teams statewide, Reeths-Puffer is 9-3 and tied for first in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green with Muskegon after edging the Big Reds 56-52 on Friday. That avenged a 14-point loss to Muskegon on Jan. 6, and the Rockets have since gone on an eight-game winning streak. They also opened last week with a 42-39 victory over 11-win Ludington.
Wayne Memorial (13-4) The Zebras further solidified their standing atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East standings with last week’s 75-57 win over second-place Belleville. That followed up a 44-41 win over the Tigers on Jan. 6, and total Wayne has won 12 straight since a 1-3 start that included two-point losses to Division 1 contenders Detroit Renaissance and Hudsonville and a third defeat to Illinois power Chicago Whitney Young.
Goodrich (14-1) The Martians are locked in another battle atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Lake Fenton and trail the Blue Devils by a game after a 50-44 loss Jan. 20. That’s Goodrich’s only defeat, and they’ll attempt to avenge it in the league finale Feb. 17. In the meantime, the Martians can continue their statewide push upward with 13-win Flushing coming up Wednesday and 15-win Ovid-Elsie next week as well.
Redford Westfield Prep (11-6) The Warriors take on many of the state’s best, evidenced by their No. 8 MPR despite six losses. Westfield has won seven of its last eight games, the lone defeat during that streak 55-53 to still-undefeated Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 16 – and with perhaps its most notable instate win of the season 46-45 in double overtime Jan. 12 over reigning Division 3 champion Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
McBain (13-4) The Highland Conference race could go down to the finish, especially after McBain avenged its earlier 17-point loss to second-place Evart with a 51-35 win last week. McBain also has a six-point loss to league leader Lake City from Jan. 20, but can avenge that in the regular-season finale Feb. 23. The Ramblers additionally have a pair of victories over 12-win Beal City and a solid early loss to still-undefeated Division 2 Escanaba.
Ovid-Elsie (15-2) The Marauders haven’t slowed down a bit after last season’s 21-2 finish with league and District titles, the latter in Division 2. This season in Division 3, Ovid-Elsie is up to No. 6 in MPR with a 14-game winning streak since suffering its lone losses early to Pewamo-Westphalia (10-5) and Dansville (15-1). The Marauders handed Mackinaw City its first defeat Saturday, 59-55 on a neutral court, and also has a victory over 14-win Ithaca plus a two-game lead in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference.
Fowler (11-6) Coming off back-to-back Division 4 championships, Fowler put together a schedule featuring solid-to-strong teams from Divisions 1-4 and sit No. 3 in Division 4 MPR. The losses have come to Midland Dow, Haslett, Lansing Catholic, Kent City and league rivals Dansville and Portland St. Patrick, and the Eagles avenged the Shamrocks defeat 51-44 last week. Fowler will need help to catch Dansville in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, down two games from the league leader, but will try to get one back from the Aggies on Feb. 14.
Norway (16-1) The Knights are leading the large-school division of the Skyline Central Conference with the likely deciding matchup coming at Bark River-Harris next week. Norway has lost only to Niagara (Wis.), by five two weeks ago, and handed Carney-Nadeau (13-2) one of its losses among other strong work – and after ending last season’s 11-10 run with a 15-point District loss to the Wolves.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Coldwater (15-1) at Jackson Northwest (15-1) – The Mounties lead Coldwater by a win in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference thanks to a 50-46 win in their first meeting Jan. 10.
Tuesday – Utica Ford (14-1) at Grosse Pointe North (13-2) – North has clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title heading into tonight’s league finale, while Ford won by a large margin in the MAC White.
Thursday – Houghton (13-1) at Hancock (13-1) – As noted above, Hancock leads the West-PAC West by a game – but will face second-place Houghton twice over the next two weeks.
Friday – Standish-Sterling (15-1) at Hemlock (13-3) – Hemlock owns the lead in the Tri-Valley Conference West 10-1 thanks to a 62-31 doubling up in the first meeting Jan. 6. But that remains the Panthers’ lone loss, and they’ve since handed TVC 10-2 co-leader Saginaw Valley Lutheran one of its two defeats.
Friday – Saline (15-2) at Temperance Bedford (16-1) – Saline is first and Bedford second in the Southeastern Conference Red thanks to Saline’s 41-22 win in their first meeting Jan. 27.
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PHOTOS (Top) A trio of Fowler defenders surround a Bath player driving to the basket during a 49-27 win earlier this season; they meet again Thursday. (Middle) Maddie Bradford of Maple City Glen Lake contests a shot by Maggie Napont of Traverse City St. Francis during the Lakers' 51-45 win over the Gladiators last week. (Top photo by Click by Christine McCallister. Middle photo by Rick Sack/TC Rick Photo.)