Glen Lake 'Slams the Door' on 1st Finals Championship Since 1978

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – The motto this postseason for the Maple City Glen Lake girls basketball team was “Slam the door.”

But at halftime of Saturday’s MHSAA Division 4 Final against Baraga, the Lakers still had to find their own way through it.

Thanks to suffocating second-half defense and the inside-outside combination of seniors Ruby Hogan and Maddie Bradford, Glen Lake ran through and slammed the door on a 60-43 win, claiming its first Finals title since 1978.

“We knew we had to come out in the second half like we had in the past few games and just take it to them and be focused,” Hogan said. “Work on our offense, work on our defense and don’t foul them. Then things would come our way. Our motto for the postseason has been ‘Slam the door’ and we definitely have been a second-half team this postseason. Today we proved that again.”

Hogan had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Lakers, who were making their first Finals appearance since 1979. 

“It’s amazing,” said Glen Lake senior guard Gemma Lerchen, who had six assists. “It’s unbelievable to finally be able to get it done. It’s been forever that we’ve worked for this. Through the summer, through the whole year. It just feels so good to get it done.”

The Lakers’ Maddie Bradford (10) works to get up a shot while defended by Jaycee Larson.Glen Lake coach Jason Bradford, who is in his 15th season at the helm, was well aware of the program’s history and the Finals drought. 

His teams have had plenty of success, winning more than 280 games and stepping up their postseason success in recent years, winning Regional titles in five of the past seven seasons.

And when he woke up to hear those traveling from Glen Lake would have to brave a snowstorm to get to the Breslin Center, he became even more confident this could be the year.

“Like I said on Thursday, it seems like the stars were all lining up,” he said. “It’s been 45 years, and 45 years ago, there was a snowstorm (on the day of the Final). My wife called just after 6 (a.m.) and said they were a bit behind with the snowstorm. I looked out the window and I was like, ‘That’s a good sign.’ But it’s unbelievable. We knew we were capable of doing it.”

Maddie Bradford, Jason’s daughter, led all scorers with 28 points. She also had eight rebounds. Eleanor Valkner added 11 rebounds.

Sixteen of those points, and 17 of Hogan’s, came in the second half as the Lakers turned the tide in a game during which they trailed by five at halftime.

“I just focused on, if I’m not open and not able to hit those shots, I trust my team,” Hogan said. “That’s what I need to do and that’s what all of us need to do, is trust each other. If I’m not open and I’m not hitting my shots, then Maddie can and Jessie (Pugh) can and Olivia (Mikowski) can. I know that I’ll have my time when I’m needing to make shots. But in the first half, it just wasn’t my time. It was my time to play defense and my time to pass the ball.”

The first half was the time for Baraga star guard Corina Jahfetson to hit shots, as she scored 14 of her 20 points in the opening 16 minutes, including four 3-pointers. Glen Lake held her to six points and 2 of 15 shooting, including 1 of 12 from 3, in the second half.

Ruby Hogan (20) gets to the basket.“It was not really the attention factor, I was just not feeling it in that second half,” Jahfetson said. “I kept trying to push it through and do what I had to do.”

As a team, Baraga struggled from the field in the second half as Glen Lake’s defense improved. The Vikings (23-6) were 4 of 22 from the field in the second half, and went scoreless for more than 5 minutes at one point in the third quarter.

“We came out better than we usually do in the first half,” Baraga coach Tyler Larson said. “We’re used to playing from behind in a lot of games. I thought we had a great start, things were falling in our favor. We came out in the second half, they made some good adjustments, credit to them. Some of the size factor played in there. I think we needed to do a better job boxing out, and transition points that we didn’t want to let up. That’s a good ballclub right there that we just played, and our girls fought to the end. Just really proud of what they’ve done this game and all season long.”

Makenna Hendrickson had 14 points for Baraga, while Jahfetson added seven rebounds to her 20 points in Baraga’s first Finals appearance.

“It means so much to be here sitting with these girls and coach Ty,” Jahfetson said. “I’m happy that we’re state runner-up. It would have been amazing to be No. 1, but not everything works out that way.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Maple City Glen Lake celebrates its Division 4 championship Saturday as coach Jason Bradford presents the trophy to his team. (Middle) The Lakers’ Maddie Bradford (10) works to get up a shot while defended by Jaycee Larson. (Below) Ruby Hogan (20) gets to the basket.

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.

The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.

The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.

Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.

Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.

Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:

Girls Basketball

Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).

Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.

Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.

Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.

Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.

Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.

Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.

Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.

Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.

Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.

Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).

Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.

Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.

Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.