Hemlock Arrives at Breslin, Makes Itself at Home in Reaching 1st Final

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

March 16, 2023

EAST LANSING — Hemlock certainly made up for a lost opportunity in its Division 3 Semifinal against Hart on Thursday. 

In 2021, after advancing to the Semifinals for the first time, Hemlock had to withdraw from the tournament after a positive COVID-19 test was discovered before its scheduled game at Breslin Center against Grass Lake. 

Earning its way back to the Division 3 final four this year, Hemlock played for that 2021 squad and this year’s team with intensity from the opening tip.

Instead of playing nervous in its first Semifinal game, Hemlock came out like it was playing in the comforts of home during a December practice, storming out to a 21-1 lead after the first quarter en route to a 57-26 win over the Pirates.

The Huskies will meet Blissfield at 4 p.m. Saturday for the Division 3 title in a matchup of two teams both looking to win a Finals championship for the first time. 

Kylee Miller (1) is defended by Marianna VanAgtmael (23).“I’ve received so many well wishes and texts from players who didn’t get that opportunity who were on that team and were encouraging these girls,” Hemlock head coach Scott Neumeyer said. “I told them that they should’ve had that opportunity. I hope they felt they were a big part of this.”

Senior Regan Finkbeiner led all scorers with 24 points, and junior Lauren Borsenik had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Hemlock (25-3). 

Finkbeiner went 9 of 13 from the field overall and 4 of 7 from 3-point range, while Borsenik went 8 of 10 from the field. 

Senior Aspen Boutell scored seven points to lead the way for Hart (24-4), which was making its first trip to the Semifinals. 

“They came out and really executed the game plan,” Hart head coach Travis Rosema said of Hemlock. “We had some nerves and had some shots that didn’t fall. But they executed better than us.” 

The first quarter was all Hemlock, which made 9 of 14 shots from the field, held Hart to 0 of 9 shooting and forced eight turnovers. 

The quarter was perfectly punctuated when Chloe Watson hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to end the first. 

“Our first quarter has been our best quarter,” Neumeyer said. “We’ve jumped on several teams this year. I’m not going to say I was surprised. I know what these girls are capable of.”

Hart played Hemlock close to even in the second quarter, but the Huskies still took a 29-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. 

The third quarter was also fairly even, with Hemlock holding a 43-19 advantage going into the fourth quarter. 

Hart had a flurry to cut its deficit to 19 halfway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t put a further dent in Hemlock’s lead the rest of the way. 

“What happened two years ago was obviously really devastating and sad,” Finkbeiner said. “The year after, we were like ‘We will make it to Breslin this year. This is our year.’ We lost in Districts. This year, we really focused on the next game. Not Districts, not Regionals and not the Breslin. Just one game at a time. Being here and playing here is unbelievable.”

Now, Hemlock will try and make its season more unbelievable with a win over Blissfield. 

“We know we’ve got a tough opponent ahead of us in Blissfield,” Neumeyer said. “They’ve got size, they’ve got speed and they’ve got guards. But (my team) came here to play two games, not one.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Hemlock’s Hannah Borsenik (24) works to get a shot up over Hart’s Chloe Coker during Thursday’s Semifinal. (Middle) Kylee Miller (1) is defended by Marianna VanAgtmael (23).

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

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.