Hartland Earns 1st Finals Berth, 1st As Well for Longtime Coach

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

March 18, 2022

EAST LANSING - The girls basketball community in the state of Michigan probably couldn’t have felt any happier for a coach, and despite being focused on the task at hand, Don Palmer did have some time for self-reflection.

After 43 years of coaching both boys and girls, Palmer finally coached in a state Final Four game, leading his Hartland girls squad into a Division 1 Semifinal against fellow KLAA member Wayne Memorial at Michigan State’s Breslin Center. 

“I’ve done it for a long time and you always dream about it, and you don’t think it’s going to happen because it’s so hard to do,” Palmer said. 

It might have taken Palmer more than four decades to reach the semifinals, but he and Hartland didn’t let its historic run stop there, taking charge in the second half and earning a 52-42 win over Wayne Memorial. 

Hartland (25-1) advanced to meet West Bloomfield for the state championship. 

Wayne/Hartland basketball“It’s always in the back of our minds since we were freshman,” said four-year player Amanda Roach, referring to a state championship. “It’s just always been on our mind.”

Hartland and Wayne Memorial might be in the same league, but they didn’t play each other during the regular season.

They were on a collision course to meet in the KLAA semifinals, but Wayne Memorial was knocked out by Howell in a semifinal (Hartland ended up beating Howell in the title game). 

But the anticipated meeting turned to be delayed, not denied. 

Leading 24-19 at halftime, the Eagles started to gain some separation in the third quarter, going on a 10-2 run to take a 35-23 lead with 3:14 remaining in the third. 

Hartland eventually took a 36-26 lead into the fourth quarter. 

The lead continued to balloon in the fourth quarter, with Hartland breaking down Wayne Memorial in the half-court beautifully and making the good shots that ensued, taking a 46-28 lead with 3:42 remaining in the game. 

Wayne Memorial (24-2) couldn’t mount a serious rally for the rest of the game in suffering its fourth straight loss in the semifinals. 

“Hartland is a very tough team and a veteran-led team,” Wayne Memorial head coach Jarvis Mitchell said. “They just played harder. They just didn’t want to lose and it’s hard to beat a team like that, that doesn’t want to lose.” 

Roach led Hartland with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line. 

Senior Leah Lappin added 13 points for the Eagles, who overcame a 4 of 16 performance from 3-point line by going 13 of 31 on 2-pointers and 14 of 22 from the free-throw line. 

Senior Davai Matthews led the way for Wayne Memorial with 15 points. Junior Mayla Ham added nine points and 11 rebounds. 

Wayne Memorial was just 1 of 11 from 3-point range and 11 of 21 from the free-throw line.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Hartland celebrates advancing to its first Division 1 Final on Friday. (Middle) Wayne Memorial’s Paris Bass (0) cuts to the basket with Gracey Metz defending. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner

March 24, 2023

Regan FinkbeinerRegan Finkbeiner ♦ Hemlock
Senior ♦ Basketball

The 5-foot-6 guard capped her high school career at Breslin Center over the weekend with team highs of 24 points and four steals in Thursday’s 57-26 Division 3 Semifinal win over Hart and the team-leading 19 points and four assists in the 59-43 win over Blissfield on Saturday that clinched the Huskies their first MHSAA Finals championship in girls basketball.

Finkbeiner played all but four minutes of 64 total over the two games, and she made a combined 15 of her 27 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 free throw attempts, plus four 3-pointers in the Final. She had entered the season’s final week averaging 17.1 points, 3.5 assists and 4.8 steals per game and in February became the program’s all-time leading scorer breaking the previous record of 1,302. A standout in multiple sports, she’s committed to continue playing softball after high school at Madonna University. Her basketball team finished 26-3 this winter.

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2022-23 Honorees

March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9:
Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner drives to the basket during her team's Semifinal win over Hart. (Photos courtesy of the Hemlock girls basketball program.)