GRAND RAPIDS – It took a couple years, but the wait was worth it for Fowler's girls basketball team.
The Eagles finally closed the book on a disappointing Quarterfinal loss two years ago to stun unbeaten Carney-Nadeau 61-37 in Wednesday's first Division 4 Semifinal at Van Andel Arena.
Fowler junior guard Mia Riley said her teammates had not forgotten a 57-36 Quarterfinal loss to Adrian Lenawee Christian in 2019, a loss which capped a 17-win season. The players used that memory to pound their way into their first Girls Basketball Final since finishing Class D runner-up in 1999.
"We've been waiting, just itching to get back," Riley said. "It was always in the back of our minds, and now it's just a great feeling."
The win snapped a 22-game winning streak for Carney-Nadeau, which had won its previous five tournament games by an average of 19 points per contest. No team had come as close as eight points to beating the Wolves this season.
But Fowler (15-4) never trailed after a layup by Avery Koenigsknecht snapped a 10-10 tie with 1:21 left in the first quarter. Fowler upped the lead to 33-17 at the half and 49-28 at the end of three quarters.
The win sent Fowler (15-4) into Friday's 10 a.m. Final against Bellaire at the Breslin Center.
Eagles coach Nathan Goerge said there was little to complain about after his team forced a whopping 31 turnovers, including 16 in the first half. That defense, which featured five players with at least three steals, was largely responsible for Carney-Nadeau attempting 28 fewer field goals (59-31).
"The execution was absolutely awesome. We had some breakdowns, but none that really hurt us," Goerge said. "We're a tough team to beat when we spread the floor and make shots. We always tell the girls when you have a shot, it's going up. We have a lot of good shooters on this team."
Fowler overcame missing its first nine 3-pointers to land three players in double figures while shooting 37 percent (22 of 59) from the floor.
Sisters Emma and Mia Riley head the list of good shooters. Mia, a junior guard, finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Emma, a sophomore guard, added 18 points and eight steals. Emma Halfmann had 11 points.
Carney-Nadeau was led by Tessa Wagner's 21 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Kedsch added 10 points.
"We've handled the press well, but this was something new for us," Kedsch said.
Wolves coach Ken Lindor said the turnovers made it difficult for the team to sustain much consistency on offense.
"We just really struggled with their pressure," Lindor said. "They pushed us out on offense. We were okay shooting the ball (48 percent), but we had too many unforced turnovers that we don't normally make. We just couldn't get in a flow. They had good ball pressure and took away the passing lanes. We didn't move as well as we usually do; there was a lot of standing around.
"We haven't been this far in 20 years, and one of our goals was to get here,” he added. “We met that goal, and that was pretty special."
PHOTOS: (Top) Fowler's Mia Riley looks for an opening with Carney-Nadeau's Shae Linder defending. (Middle) Emma Riley brings the ball upcourt with teammate Emma Halfmann at her side . (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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:
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.