Keyser's Final Mission: Lead Bucs Into Title Mix

January 9, 2019

By Tom Kendra
Special for Second Half

Alli Keyser wore a big smile coming out of the locker room Tuesday night, as if she just had completed a career night.

In reality, the Grand Haven senior point guard was coming off one of her worst statistical nights in memory, scoring seven points (on 3-of-16 shooting) with six assists and four steals.

But the smile was a direct result of the Buccaneers’ 44-30 win over neighboring and Ottawa-Kent Conference Red rival Holland West Ottawa, which upped their record to a perfect 7-0 on the season.

“At this point in my career, I am just happy when we win,” explained the 5-7 Keyser, who started all 22 games for Haven as a freshman and has been the team’s starting point guard since. “I was off tonight, but other people stepped up and made up for it, which is great. We are going to need all of us to play well if we want to make a run.”

Keyser’s individual legacy at Grand Haven is already well-established.

Keyser, who committed to play basketball at Northwood University the summer before her junior year, broke her high school’s all-time steals record last month, besting the total achieved by 2003 graduate Julie Henderson. Keyser is also on pace to break Henderson’s all-time assists record.

As for scoring, Keyser recently moved past Abby Cole into fifth all-time in school history. If Keyser averages about 11 points per game the rest of the season, she will pass a “who’s who” of former Buccaneers greats – specifically Alex Law, Maggie Dwyer, Allison Miller and Emma Veach – and leave as the school’s all-time leading scorer as well.

“The ironic thing is that Ally is going to leave here with all of these individual records, but she is the definition of a true team player,” said 21st-year Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer. “She is the consummate point guard, always looking to set up her teammates and help them get better. She is an incredibly talented player, but she’s a better leader.”

Keyser has two specific goals for her senior year: win an O-K Red title and then make a long tournament run.

Grand Haven won back-to-back Class A championships in 2012 and 2013, but since then the Bucs have not been able to advance out of Districts – running into roadblocks of Muskegon Mona Shores (led by 2017 Miss Basketball Jordan Walker) and more recently Muskegon High.

This could be the year the Bucs break through, but it won’t be easy with two of the most athletic teams in the state standing in their way.

In the conference, Haven has finished second behind East Kentwood the past two years. The Falcons are loaded once again led by backcourt stars Mauriya Barnes and Alexis McCully.

In Districts, the Bucs lost by one point to Muskegon last year, and the Big Reds appear to be even better this winter with senior point guard and Michigan State commit Alyza Winston. As fate would have it, Grand Haven will play Muskegon on the opening night of the Class A District at Muskegon Reeths-Puffer.

“We have a chance with this group to do some special things,” said Kowalczyk-Fulmer, who is assisted by Katie Erickson and Norm Greene. “The problem is we have to beat some great teams to achieve our goals. Right now, we really have to get a lot better in order to do that. Fortunately, the season is a marathon and not a sprint.”

All three of those teams – Grand Haven, East Kentwood and Muskegon – are likely to be ranked in the top five when the first state Associated Press girls basketball rankings are released next week.

As has been the case for the past four years, the Bucs’ offense is keyed by Keyser.

Keyser, who also happens to be the leader and playmaker for Grand Haven’s soccer team, possesses the speed, ball-handling ability and poise to get the ball up the court against pressure from the likes of East Kentwood and Muskegon.

From there, the Buccaneers can hurt teams with their size inside. Seniors Esther Byington (6-3) and Kelly Olthof (6-1), who both missed most of their junior seasons with injuries, are back and healthy and are a formidable 1-2 punch on the interior. Both will play basketball next year at the Division II college level, Byington at Northern Michigan and Olthof at Lake Superior State.

Haven’s imposing post presence opens up plenty of 3-point shooting opportunities for junior Jolee Houle and senior Anna Strom.

Houle was on fire Tuesday night, burying five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points. Olthof had a strong game inside with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, with a team-high nine rebounds.

“That’s my main job as a point guard, is to get everyone involved and then get it to the hot hand,” explained Keyser, who has been first-team all-conference the past three years and honorable mention all-state last winter. “It really doesn’t matter who it is. We’ve had games where most of our scoring came from the inside, and other games where it’s been outside shooting. We just have to be able to do both, and then we’re tough to stop.”

It’s when Grand Haven gets stagnant or starts struggling that Keyser takes over.

She has been remarkably consistent throughout her four-year varsity career, averaging 15.2 points per game her freshman season and 16.1 points this winter, along with 5.1 steals and five assists per game.

While Keyser’s speed, court vision and shooting touch always have been there, the biggest change in her game over the past four years is from a leadership perspective.

“I have become much more vocal,” said Keyser, who plans to major in business management at Northwood. “I was quiet as a freshman and sophomore and didn’t want to overstep my bounds. Now I’m more comfortable speaking up.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTO: (Top) Grand Haven’s Alli Keyser pushes the ball upcourt, a frequent occurrence during her four seasons as a starter. (Middle) Keyser makes a strong move to the basket. (Photos by Tim Reilly.)

Jahfetson Makes History from 3-Point Range in Taking Baraga to 2023 Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 23, 2024

Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson graduated in 2023 as one of the most accomplished 3-point shooters in MHSAA history and coming off one of the most impressive single seasons from beyond the arc.

Her 103 3-pointers as a senior over 29 games were the second-most for one season and included eight in a Quarterfinal win over Mackinaw City – the second-most in an MHSAA Quarterfinal, Semifinal or Final.

She finished with 236 3-pointers over 96 games and four seasons, ranking 12th on that career list, and Baraga finished the season as Division 4 runner-up. She’s continuing her career at Northern Michigan.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click the heading to view the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Alma junior Bailey Walkington earned her school’s first single-season individual record book entry for girls basketball in 2022-23. She made the steals list with 143 over 23 games.

Dalton DeBoer became the latest Midland Dow long-range shooting ace to make the records after she drained 70 of 206 3-point attempts over 24 games in 2022-23. DeBoer is a junior this school year.

Durand senior Jordyn Lawrence earned her school’s first girls basketball individual record book entry with 15 steals in her team’s 44-31 win over Flint Kearsley on Dec. 2, 2022. She’s continuing at Mid-Michigan College.

Leah French finished her Engadine career in 2023 with a series of game, season and career record book entries detailing her scoring and defensive skills. She earned single-game listings for 54 points and 19 free throws against St. Ignace on Feb. 6, 2023, and nine 3-pointers against Manistique that Jan. 9. She made the single-season list with 81 3-pointers, 177 free throws and 168 steals over 25 games as a senior. And she made the career lists with 171 3-pointers, 354 free throws and 405 steals over 85 games and four seasons. She’s continuing her career at Aquinas College.

Arieonna Ware earned Battle Creek Central's first girls basketball record book entry with 51 points in a Feb. 11, 2020, win over Portage Northern. She actually finished with a triple-double, adding 12 rebounds and 12 steals. Ware also was added for 47 points in a March 6, 2019, District game against Sturgis.

Mesick senior Kayla McCoy made the MHSAA record in 2022-23 as a junior, totaling 144 steals over 23 games. It was Mesick’s first individual entry in the girls basketball record book.

Coldwater’s Carlee Crabtree made a career-high 52 3-pointers during her senior season of 2019-20 on the way to making the MHSAA career list for long-distance shots with 163, in 469 attempts, over four seasons and 88 games total. She went on to play at Central Michigan and Hope College.

Battle Creek Pennfield’s Kaylee Glidden capped her three-year varsity career in 2023 among the most accurate free-throw shooters in MHSAA history – and also among top 3-point aces. She made 90.6 percent of her free-throw attempts as a senior, good for fifth-highest percentage all-time for one season, and her 84.4-percent success rate ranks fourth on the career list. She also made the single-season 3-pointers list with 67 that winter and the career list with 168. She continued at Kellogg Community College and has committed to Great Lakes Christian College.

Larissa Huffman made a pair of career lists upon completing her four-year varsity career in 2023 at Mackinaw City. She was added for 468 assists and 411 steals, both over 92 games, and she’s continuing her career at St. Norbert (Wis.). Additionally, Mackinaw City was added to the single-game field goals list as a team for making at least 39 in a game six times over the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, with a high of 45.

Lansing Christian earned a listing on the team 3-pointers list when it sank 14 on 32 attempts against Webberville on Jan. 20, 2023. Seven players drained at least one of the long-distance shots.  

Grayling’s 66-49 win over Houghton Lake on Dec. 19 included one of the most impressive defensive performances of all-time as senior Makayla Watkins had 19 steals – tying for third-most in one game.

Brooklyn Columbia Central’s Zoandria Bamm grabbed 28 rebounds during a Feb. 14, 2023, game against Clinton to make the single-game list in that category and on the way to finishing her senior season with 380 rebounds over 25 games – tying for 13th most on that list. She’s playing at Jackson College.

Riley Abney became the first player to be listed for points scored in a quarter of a girls basketball game when she sank 21 of her 36 total during the fourth quarter of a 64-47 loss to Linden on Jan. 16. The Ortonville Brandon senior has committed to be a preferred walk-on at Oakland.

A pair of Paw Paw standouts earned single-game accomplishments within three days of each other in January. On Jan. 26 against Sturgis, junior AJ Rickli grabbed 31 rebounds, tied for seventh-most for one game. On Jan. 29 against Three Rivers, sophomore Stella Shaefer made the single-game assists list with 14.

Keira Maki joined the single-game points list on Feb. 22 when she scored 47 in Escanaba’s 64-49 win over Sault Ste. Marie. The senior will continue at Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

PHOTO Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson (22) brings the ball upcourt during the 2023 Division 4 Final against Glen Lake at Breslin Center.