Hudsonville Earns Historic Win with Signature Skill

By Jason Schmitt
Special for

April 7, 2021

EAST LANSING – Hudsonville head coach Casey Glass is beyond the point where he’ll mince words — particularly when it comes to his team’s defensive play.

He knows how good his Eagles are.

“It’s not a secret anymore, but I think we’re one of the best defensive teams in the state of Michigan,” Glass said. “We’ve got kids that come out every day ready to play and D it up.”

That was the case for Glass and his team during their Division 1 Semifinal game against Midland Dow Wednesday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. Hudsonville put on a defensive clinic, holding the Chargers scoreless for the first 6½ minutes of the fourth quarter and limiting them to just 14 second-half points during a 49-35 victory which catapulted the Eagles into the championship game, where they’ll face Detroit Renaissance.

“You get Alaina (Diaz) and Eva Joldersma on their two best players, and we really just tried to use a little bit of extra height and athleticism to shut down their two best players and I thought we did a really good job of that,” Glass said.

Dow’s top two scorers, Alexa Kolnitys and Jada Garner, came into the game averaging a combined 30.6 points per contest. But they were limited to just 14 against the Eagles.

“I feel like most of our game is (about) defense, and every day at practice we push ourselves to play defense,” said Diaz, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals. “We play against each other and push each other to play harder.”

Hudsonville led by seven after one quarter and upped its lead to 17-8 moments into the second. But Dow went on a 10-0 run, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers by juniors Kennedy Caldwell and Abby Rey, a putback by Kolnitys and a pair of free throws by Rey, to take an 18-17 lead with 4:32 left in the first half.

Hudsonville/Midland Dow Division 1 Semifinal 2“We make our run in the second quarter, when we hit a few 3s and you get on a roll and take a lead. Then in the second half, we go 0-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line,” Dow coach Kyle Theisen said. “All year long, we’ve said that when we’re making shots, we can beat anybody, and when we’re missing shots, anybody can beat us. That’s what the second half was. We were missing shots. We got good looks at 3s and they didn’t go down for us.”

For the game, Dow shot just 12 for 46 from the field, including 4 for 15 from 3-point range.

“We don’t usually shoot that poorly,” Theisen continued. “We got the shots we wanted, but sometimes they just don’t go down. I absolutely loved the effort of our girls. I loved the all-out hustle on every play and never giving up.

“Diaz did a good job. We tried to get some switches on ball screens and she did a really good job of getting over the top or underneath on those ball screens. We were trying to attack some of their bigs with our guards, and she made it difficult. She’s a really good defender on the ball.

“When you have that much height protecting the rim on the help side, there were no easy points to be had.”

Rey led Dow with 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Kolnitys had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Chargers, who finished their season 22-1.

“Got to give (Midland Dow) credit, they’re well coached,” Glass said. “Those girls gave everything they had. Fortunately for us tonight, we had a little bit more in the tank.”

Hudsonville sophomore Maddie Petroelje led her team with 15 points. Junior Jaci Tubergen had seven points and a team-best 11 rebounds, while senior Emmalynn Costen added six points and 10 rebounds. The Eagles (22-1) will now take on Renaissance (13-4) in Friday’s Division 1 championship game, a first-time appearance in the finale for Hudsonville. The Phoenix defeated Wayne Memorial, 75-72, in Wednesday’s first Semifinal.

“Renaissance is a team that puts a lot of pressure on you,” Glass said. “We’re fortunate to have kids on our team that can handle that pressure. We’ll get back to Hudsonville, watch some film and get back to the drawing board and come up with a game plan for Friday.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Hudsonville's Alaina Diaz (23) makes her move as Dow's Jada Garner defends Wednesday at Breslin Center. (Middle) Diaz works to grab a loose ball while surrounded by Chargers.(Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

High School 'Hoop Squad' Close to Heart as Hughes Continues Coaching Climb

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

July 11, 2024

Jareica Hughes had a Hall of Fame collegiate basketball career playing at University of Texas-El Paso and has played professionally overseas, but her most prized possession is something she earned playing high school basketball in Michigan. 

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosA standout at now-closed Southfield-Lathrup High School during the early-to-mid 2000s, Hughes proudly displays a signature symbol of Lathrup’s Class A championship team in 2005. 

“I have my state championship ring on me right now,” said Hughes, now an assistant head coach for the women’s basketball program at UTEP. “I wear this ring every single day. Not so much for the basketball aspect. Inside of the ring it says ‘Hoop Squad.’ It’s more the connection I’ve had with those particular young ladies. Friends that I’ve known since I was kid. Every once in a while when we talk, we go back in time.”

Believe it or not, Hughes and her high school teammates next year will have to go back 20 years to commemorate a run to the title that started when they were freshmen. 

It was a gradual build-up to what was the first girls basketball state championship won by a public school in Oakland County. Lathrup, which has since merged with the former Southfield High School to form Southfield Arts & Technology, remained the only public school in Oakland County to win a state girls basketball title until West Bloomfield did so in 2022 and again this past March. 

Lathrup lost in the District round to Bloomfield Hills Marian during Hughes’ freshman year, and then after defeating Marian in a District Final a year later, lost to West Bloomfield in a Regional Final.

When Hughes was a junior, the team got to the state’s final four, but a bad third quarter resulted in a heartbreaking one-point Semifinal loss to eventual champion Lansing Waverly. 

A year later, when Hughes and other core players such as Brittane Russell, Timika Williams, Dhanmite’ Slappey and Briana Whitehead were seniors, they finished the job and won the Class A crown with a 48-36 win over Detroit Martin Luther King in the Final.

However, the signature moment of that title run actually came during the Semifinal round and was produced by Hughes, a playmaking wizard at point guard who made the team go. 

Trailing by three points during the waning seconds of regulation against Grandville and Miss Basketball winner Allyssa DeHaan – a dominant 6-foot-8 center – Hughes drained a tying 3-pointer from the wing that was well beyond the 3-point line. 

Lathrup went on to defeat Grandville in overtime and prevail against King.

Hughes said the year prior, she passed up on taking a potential winning or tying shot in the Semifinal loss against Waverly, and was reminded of that constantly by coaches and teammates. “I just remember in the huddle before that shot, that just kept ringing in my mind,” she said. “That was special. I cried for weeks not being able to get a shot off (the year before) and leaving the tournament like that.”

Growing up in Detroit, Hughes got into basketball mainly because she had five older brothers and an older sister who played the game. In particular, Hughes highlights older brother Gabriel for getting her into the game and taking her from playground to playground.

“I’m from Detroit,” she said. “We played ball all day long. Sunup to sundown. When the light comes on, you had to run your butt into the house.”

Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center.Hughes played for the Police Athletic League and also at the famed St. Cecilia gym in the summer, developing her game primarily against boys.

“My first team was on a boys team,” she said. “I was a captain on a boys team.” 

The family moved into Lathrup’s district before she began high school. 

Once she helped lead Lathrup to the 2005 championship, she went on to a fine career at UTEP, where she was the Conference USA Player of the Year twice and helped lead the Miners to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Hughes still holds school records for career assists (599), steals (277) and minutes played (3,777). On Monday, she was named to Conference USA’s 2024 Hall of Fame class. 

After a brief professional career overseas was derailed by a shoulder injury, Hughes said getting into coaching was a natural fit. 

“I had to make the hard decision, and I knew as a kid I wanted to be around basketball,” she said. “Once I made that decision (to quit), I knew I was going to coach.”

Hughes started coaching in the Detroit area, first serving as an assistant at Southfield A&T from 2016-20 and then at Birmingham Groves for a season. She then served as interim head coach at Colby Community College in Kansas before being named an assistant at UTEP in May 2023, a month after her former coach Keitha Adams returned to lead the program after six seasons at Wichita State.  

While fully immersed in her job with UTEP, Hughes’ high school memories in Michigan certainly aren’t going away anytime soon – especially with the 20th anniversary of Lathrup’s championship coming up. 

“We are still close friends because we all essentially grew up together,” she said. “They are still my friends to this day.”

2024 Made In Michigan

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PHOTOS (Top) At left, Southfield-Lathrup’s Jareica Hughes drives to the basket against Detroit Martin Luther King during the 2005 Class A Final; at right, Hughes coaches this past season at UTEP. (Middle) Hughes, second from left, begins the championship celebration with her Lathrup teammates at Breslin Center. (UTEP photo courtesy of the UTEP sports information department.)