Latest Flushing Title Creates Lasting Buzz
April 17, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The banner is on its way.
Those who followed Flushing’s unexpected run to this season’s Class A girls basketball title – the school’s first in any sport since 1977 – should quickly understand the significance.
History, at least in small part, played a motivational role for the MHSAA/Applebee’s Team of the Month for March as it reached the Semifinals in girls hoops for the first time since 1976 and then added that second title in Raiders history to the first won by the girls golf team four decades ago.
And the fever is still going strong. On Tuesday, the team is scheduled to be recognized by the Flushing school board. On Thursday, the Raiders will join Sen. Ken Horn for an introduction on the Senate floor in Lansing. On Friday, the girls will be recognized during a ceremony at the school, hopefully with that banner to unveil. And of course, they’ll be part of Flushing’s annual Summer Festival parade June 7.
“I’ve been with the program 20 years – the first seven as an assistant – and when I first started, back when girls basketball was in the fall and we played in the old Big Nine Conference, we always had probably some of the bigger fan support than a lot of the other schools in the conference,” Flushing coach Larry Ford said. “Girls basketball has really been embraced by the community. When we switched seasons (to winter), it dropped off a little … but I still feel we have one of the better followings in the area. What the community did behind the run this year, it was second to none.”
And the same was true for a team not necessarily expected to be standing with the trophy on the season’s final day, despite a group that played for that moment going back to middle school.
After playing together at Flushing's junior high, now-seniors Lauren Newman, Breanna Perry and Kamryn Chappell joined the varsity starting lineup as freshmen, and senior guard Carson Wilson was added the following winter as a sophomore. They were four of six seniors from a class that dominated in middle school and over the last four seasons led the varsity to a combined 81-16 record – including a school record 24 wins both this winter (finishing 24-3) and in 2014-15 (24-1).
Still, the Raiders entered this postseason unranked by The Associated Press after losing two of their their first three games of the season but winning 17 of their final 18. Flushing’s only defeats came to Saginaw Heritage and Midland Dow during that opening run and eventual Class B runner-up Ypsilanti Arbor Prep during the final week of the regular season.
Flushing more than proved its merit during the playoffs. The Raiders opened by avenging last season’s District Final loss to St. Johns, and went on to eliminate 18-win Flint Carman-Ainsworth, 17-win Lapeer, 21-win Dow and 19-win Macomb Dakota. They knocked out reigning champion Warren Cousino (24-3) in the Semifinal 52-36 before downing East Kentwood (26-2) in the championship game, 49-38. All but the Dow win were by double figures.
“When they were eighth graders, we started talking to them about state championships,” Ford said. “I was over there for one of their games, and talked to them, or maybe at practice the next day, and I asked them if they knew what a state championship is. When they’re in eighth grade, that look at you like what is that?
“But we started making it a point (freshman year) what we wanted to do. I thought as juniors and seniors they might have a decent chance to make a run like this. These last two years they really were committed to it.”
The Raiders also can boast some all-around successes. Perry and sophomore Thailyia Christensen are multi-sport athletes also competing in track & field, while Wilson and Chappell play soccer during the spring and Newman played softball as well earlier in her high school career. Newman and Wilson carry 4.0 grade-point averages, while Chappell is at 3.5. Perry, a 6-foot forward, will continue her academic and basketball careers next season at Temple University.
But for now, she and her teammates have a busy week ahead and a lot more to celebrate from their history-making winter.
“They are humble beyond belief, and it’s really nice to see,” Ford said. “They’re very appreciative of the accolades they’re getting, the number of cards and emails they’ve gotten from fans and supporters. They’re really enjoying it."
Past Teams of the Month, 2016-17
February: Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central girls skiing - Report
January: Powers North Central boys basketball - Report
December: Dundee boys basketball - Report
November: Rockford girls swimming & diving - Report
October: Rochester girls golf - Report
September: Breckenridge football - Report
PHOTO: Flushing's girls basketball team poses with its championship trophy after winning the Class A title last month.
Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner
March 24, 2023
Regan 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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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.)