GPN's Braker Moving Full Speed Ahead on College Coaching Trail

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

August 11, 2023

Ariel Braker has never forgotten being a part of Grosse Pointe North’s Class A girls basketball championship team in 2008, but a couple of happenings in recent months have made her reflect even more on that title.

The first came in March, when Braker was hired as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball program at the University ofMade in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard. Minnesota. That brought a stark reminder of an oopsie when she was on a recruiting visit to Minnesota after the championship and while she was still in high school. having helped the Norse to the title as a sophomore.

“I left my (state championship) ring in the hotel here in Minnesota,” Braker said. “So I needed a new one.”

The second came in June, when Grosse Pointe North won the Division 2 girls soccer title.

Those Norse were coached by Olivia Dallaire, a teammate of Braker’s on the 2008 girls basketball title team.

“It was an interesting full circle moment of 'Wow, it really was that long ago,'” Braker said. “You have someone on your team now leading the school to a state championship in a different sport. It was pretty cool.”

A 6-foot-1 dynamo who could play every position on the court in 2008, Braker had 15 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocked shots in a 58-46 win over East Lansing in the championship game.

That followed a 23-point, 20-rebound performance in a Semifinal win over North Farmington.

Braker was more than just a standout basketball player for North, however.

She was also a member of the volleyball team and an all-state high jumper for the track & field team, and being a three-sport athlete made her high school experience even better.

“It let me take a break from basketball, use other muscles and take my mind off of it,” Braker said. “The ability to be with different people, make different friends, and do different things was very helpful.”

During her senior year in 2010, Braker finished third in the state's Miss Basketball Award voting.

Braker signed to play college basketball at Notre Dame, where she played for legendary head coach Muffet McGraw.

During her tenure with the Fighting Irish, Braker was a part of three teams that won Atlantic Coast Conference championships and advanced to the 2014 national championship game.

After college, Braker decided she wanted to give coaching a try and landed at Western Texas College, a community college in Snyder, Texas.

It was there that the coaching bug really hit her hard.

“Those kids needed a lot of instruction and teaching,” Braker said. “You have to be willing to be patient and teach the game in different ways so it touches everyone. It was a growing year for me, but I was like, ‘I can do this.’ That gave me confidence.”

From there, Braker has gone on to assistant jobs at Lehigh, Oakland, South Dakota and West Virginia before being hired on to first-year head coach Dawn Plitzuweit’s staff at Minnesota this past March.

Braker said that at all of her coaching stops so far, she’s tried to follow Michigan youth teams on the recruiting trail given her familiarity with the state.

She obviously hopes that familiarity will pay dividends in her new role at Minnesota if she needs to mine for talent in Michigan.

“There are some younger kids who are up-and-coming who could help,” she said. “I’m excited to get back home and be able to recruit them.”

When she does come back to recruit, it’ll likely join the lost championship ring in Minnesota and soccer success this spring as reminders of that magical ride to a basketball title with the Norse 15 years ago.

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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Braker plays in the 2008 Class A championship game, and at right Braker coaches at University of Minnesota. (Below) Braker drives to the basket; she scored 15 points in the 2008 championship game against East Lansing. (Photos courtesy of the Detroit News and University of Minnesota athletics.) 

St. George's Senior Season Filled with Historic Trip, Sizzling 3-Point Shooting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 21, 2024

Delaney St. George helped Kingston reach its first MHSAA Girls Basketball Final this winter – and along the way finished her high school career among the most prolific 3-point shooters in state history.

The four-year varsity senior made 87 3-pointers this season for the Division 4 runner-up Cardinals, good to tie for 10th on the single-season list after she made 93 as a junior to rank fourth all-time.

She finished her Kingston career with 290 3-pointers in 793 attempts over 94 games – good for second on the career 3-pointers list.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click on the heading to see the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Hemlock’s 18-6 run this season was fueled in part by more successful 3-point shooting. The Huskies made single-season lists with 170 3-pointers and 552 attempts, and also for making 14 3-pointers Jan. 5 against St. Louis.

Senior Mia McLaughlin made nine of 15 3-point shots for Frankenmuth in a Feb. 6 win over Birch Run as the Eagles made the team record book list with 15 3-pointers total. They also were added for 14 3-pointers in a Feb. 20 win over Bay City John Glenn. McLaughlin will continue her career at Ferris State.

McBain sophomore Peyton Grant scored all 27 of her points Jan. 17 against Houghton Lake on nine 3-pointers to make the single-game list in that category.

Seniors Autumn Tremblay and Ceara LeBlanc earned Brimley’s first girls basketball record book listings this season. Both made single-game lists in a Feb. 27 win over Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian – Tremblay scored 21 points during the first quarter and LeBlanc had 16 steals for the game – and LeBlanc also was added for 141 steals total over 25 games this past winter.

Reed City’s run at the Central State Activities Association title this winter was fueled in part by 3-point shooting. The Coyotes finished one game out of first, but made the records with 517 3-point attempts over 24 games – and just missed the made 3-pointers list connecting on 143.

Howell sophomore Gabrielle Piepho added her third record book listing over her first two seasons this winter making 89.2 percent of her free throw attempts to rank eighth on that single-season list. Howell as a team also made the 3-point attempts list with 536 over 25 games, and also just missed the 3-pointers made list with 146.

Saline finished the 2023-24 season among the all-time leading 3-point shooters again, this time with 192 – 14th-most for one season – in 587 attempts over 24 games. Sophomore Keira Roehm led the way with 78 3-pointers, tying for 21st on that list.

Junior Tamerah Peterson led Sterling Heights Parkway Christian to a District title this season, providing a record-setting defensive boost in addition to her offensive skills. She finished with 173 steals – eighth-most for one season – over 21 games.

Niles Brandywine reached Breslin Center this season with another stellar distance shooting display, making the record book with both 186 3-pointers and 610 attempts from beyond the arc in finishing Division 3 runner-up.

Alie Bisballe capped her career at Lake City this winter by helping her team reach the Division 3 Semifinal at Breslin Center – and by reaching the MHSAA girls basketball record book in two categories. The 6-foot-4 post player made the lists with 329 rebounds and 188 blocked shots, both in 28 games as Lake City finished 25-3. She will continue her career at Wisconsin.

Ironwood junior Hanna Vaughn will enter her final season next winter already on the career 3-pointers list. She’s made 155 3-pointers over her first three seasons and 70 games on varsity.

PHOTO Kingston’s Delaney St. George (10) pulls up for a shot during the Division 4 Final against Ishpeming.