House's Letters Spell R-E-C-O-R-D

By Pam Shebest
Special for

December 18, 2018

COMSTOCK — As a freshman, Abby House could not decide whether to play volleyball or golf, so she compromised and did both.

Little did she know that first dual-sport fall season would put her on track to Comstock High School history.

She will graduate in May with a school-record 22 varsity letters — 21 for sports and one for band.

The previous record, set by Robert Bellisle in 1943, was 17. Bellisle was inducted into the Comstock Hall of Fame in 2011.

“I just really like sports and starting freshman year with five, I didn’t really know there was a record for it,” House said.

She has four letters each in bowling, golf, basketball and softball, three in volleyball, two in soccer and one in band.

The school supports dual-sport athletes under specific conditions, athletic director Justin Ansel said.

 “Primary and secondary coaches have to agree on the details before it can happen,” he said. “If we don't have their agreement along with the player understanding of expectations, we don't allow it.

“I think it's important to just give the kids opportunity. It works best with picking a team sport as the primary sport and then an individual sport as secondary.”

House’s father, Rich House, said he and his wife have no problem with their daughter playing six sports a school year.

“It wasn’t really ever a plan; it just kinda happened,” he said. “She was always good at it and has always been a good student.

“We always told her as long as she could handle it and keep up – the school work is most important. She always seemed to do a good job at that.”

Schoolwork has not been a problem for House, who carries a 3.88 grade-point average.

This year, she has just one class at Comstock – band – but took psychology, physics and accounting at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Next semester, she will study sociology, chemistry and medical terminology at KVCC, working toward a degree in nursing.

Although House plays sports for fun, her dad said his daughter is a high-level competitor in all of them.

“She has multiple conference titles, qualified for state twice in golf, once in bowling, all-District catcher two years in a row,” Rich House said.

This year, she was Comstock’s top golfer and is the team’s top female bowler, carrying a 150 average.

Decisions, decisions

As a freshman, House earned varsity letters in golf, basketball, bowling and softball.

She played the same sports the next year, but also was moved up to varsity in volleyball, giving her five letters.

Her junior year, House added soccer, and is continuing to play six sports her senior year.

She chose volleyball because “I played (volleyball) with my teammates since middle school and I’ve enjoyed it when I played in season,” House said.

Golf is a family affair for the House family, including her brother, Mason.

“My parents are big golfers and we’re a big golf family and the coach was really into wanting me to golf, so she talked me into it and I thought it would be fun to try,” Abby House said.

Since she started playing basketball in elementary school; it was a no-brainer to continue in high school. She was called up to varsity after a month during her freshman year.

The bowling coach had an inside track to recruiting her – it’s her dad.

Softball was her only spring sport until her junior year.

“When I was younger, I played softball and soccer, but I chose softball because I liked it more,” House said.

“We had a softball coach who wanted us to concentrate only on softball, so I didn’t play soccer.”

Her junior year, the softball coach left and House decided to add soccer, giving her two sports in each of the three seasons.

Everything falls into place

House is an expert at time management.

“In school, whenever teachers get done with notes and we have homework I try to do it,” she said. “Or with any free time I’ll do it and what’s left, I do after practices.

“Freshman, sophomore year I did a lot on the bus.”

Choosing a favorite sport is not possible.

“Everybody asks me that,” she said. “I can choose one per season, but not one overall.

“Basketball, golf, softball have always been my top.”

House has stepped up this year, helping lead the basketball team to a 3-0 overall record, 2-0 in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference Red as a point guard, her fourth position in four years.

As a freshman she was a post player, as a sophomore she shifted to forward, and then to shooting guard last winter.

Last season, she averaged seven points and seven rebounds per game. This year, it’s 18 points, eight rebounds and nearly six assists on average, she said.

“Abby has always been a solid player even since fourth grade when (she and Daisy Ansel) started playing some travel ball together,” said Justin Ansel, who also coaches the girls basketball team.

“I think Abby has always been a very coordinated athlete, and it doesn't surprise me that she does so well in so many different things. She has contributed at a high level in a lot of sports.”

Ansel said he thinks House could be extremely good if she focused on a particular sport, but “I think she just loves competing so much that she would rather play all kinds of sports all the time.” 

Ansel said House complements leading scorer Daisy Ansel well.

“Abby's start to this season from an offensive standpoint has been tremendous,” he said. “Both girls are shooting very well from the outside, and both girls are able to attack so defenses can't just key on one of them – which is amazing for Daisy.”

House will not go into sports withdrawal once she graduates.

She hopes to continue to play in college, but just one sport, either basketball or golf, she said.

Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Abby House’s varsity letter jacket shows off many of her accomplishments over her first three-plus years of high school. (Middle) Abby House and her father Rich House. (Below) Abby House takes part in some of her sports – with her dad at the bowling center, golfing, and hitting in softball and volleyball. (Action photos courtesy of the House family. Head shots by Pam Shebest.)

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.