Grass Lake Caps Thrilling Rise with 1st Finals Title

By Jason Schmitt
Special for

April 9, 2021

EAST LANSING — Though it may very well look like a fun play on words, Grass Lake girls basketball coach Andrea Cabana has established quite a culture in the small town located just east of Jackson. 

And it’s really beginning to pay off.

“It’s a grass-root, fundamental approach to changing the overall culture of the program,” she said. “We’re very in-tune to the younger kids in the Junior Warriors (program), throughout the middle school to JV and varsity. It’s a full program effort to keep everyone involved.”

On Friday, she and her Grass Lake team took another step in keeping everyone involved, capturing the school’s first girls basketball state championship. The Warriors overcame an early seven-point deficit and held off a late charge by Kent City for a 52-50 victory in the Division 3 Final at the Breslin Center.

Trailing by 10 points with just more than five minutes remaining in the game, Kent City went on a 10-2 run to nearly dissolve Grass Lake’s lead. Seniors Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get their team within four points at 46-40. After a Lauren Pongracz layup put it back to a six-point advantage for the Warriors, Harrison hit another 3 and Bowers hit one of two free throws to make it a 46-44 game, in favor of Grass Lake. 

The two teams would trade baskets before Grass Lake junior Lexus Bargesser hit a pair of free throws with 35 seconds remaining to give her team a four-point lead. She added two more with 10 seconds left to essentially seal the victory for her team.

“I feel so proud of our team and how we pulled through and didn’t let the pressure get to us,” Bargesser said. “Truly, this is the best thing that any basketball player could imagine happening to them. To be able to go and say you won a state championship is truly such a blessing.” 

Kent City entered the game unbeaten at 21-0 and jumped out to early leads of 16-9 and 21-17 thanks in part to its 3-point shooting. The Eagles shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc, hitting 11 of their 28 attempts. 

They also played well defensively early on, keeping Grass Lake’s two leading scorers, Bargesser and Abrie Cabana, in check. 

2021 D3 Girls Basketball Final

“The girls executed the game plan absolutely perfectly,” Kent City head coach Scott Carlson said. ”We wanted to take away (Bargesser) and (Cabana) and we did that in the first quarter, the first half really. But they had some players hit some shots that we were going to make them shoot.”

Bargesser finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Cabana had 10 points to go along with her five rebounds. Junior Gabrielle Lutchka hit four 3-pointers and scored all 14 of her points in the first half.

Harrison led Kent City with 16 points, while Bowers chipped in 13. 

“We had a great season,” Carlson said. “These girls played absolutely fantastic. They overcame a lot and worked their tails off all offseason on their own when we couldn’t get together. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

For Grass Lake, the championship is a culmination of five years of growth in the program, a program which Coach Cabana took over five years ago. The Warriors faced one of the toughest schedules in the state this season, which helped prepare them for Friday.

“We intentionally had a very tough schedule this year,” said the coach, who now has a 95-18 record in five years with the program. “Our philosophy is we want to see the best. We want to see how good we are. We want to be pushed to our limits. Teams like that will expose every weakness that you have. So we were able to work on the things that needed to be adjusted before big games like this.”

Grass Lake also captured its first Regional title this year, having fallen just short a couple of times under Cabana.

“Our program has definitely been on the rise the past couple of years,” Lutchka said. “We had a team make it to the Regional Final and (it) ended up not winning, so we’ve been trying to get past that point. Every year, we’ve gotten better and better and better.”

And this year, the Warriors reached the basketball summit. 

“It’s huge for the girls within the program, something to build on and keep focusing on,” Cabana said. “It’s huge for the district. We’ve never won a basketball state championship at Grass Lake, and I think it’s huge for the community. We’ve had people who graduated a long time ago show up and give us their support. The amount of people who have reached out wishing us luck is astronomical. It will (someday) become a basketball town. We’re working on it.”

Click for full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Grass Lake's Lexus Bargesser (1) tries to get a hand on a shot during Saturday's Division 3 Final at Breslin Center. (Middle) Kent City's Lexie Bowers (3) makes her move around the arc with Amber Boomer defending. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.