Manchester Celebrates 1st Championship

March 16, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Taylor Manders placed a hand on each side of her head Saturday, not entirely sure what to say when her sister Jessie ran up and gave her a huge hug.

A few seconds later, they and their teammates would celebrate the first MHSAA Finals championship in Manchester High School history.

Manders’ speechlessness probably had something to do with simple joy – before this season, Manchester had never even played in a Quarterfinal. There might’ve been some disbelief in there too after a start that made this look early like a Saginaw Nouvel win going away.

And don’t forget a little anticipation. The Lady Dutch had built for this season throughout Manders’ high school career and improved throughout. This winter they picked up a final edge, and it might’ve been the difference-maker in a 57-52 championship game win over the Panthers.

“When I was a freshman, we had a pretty good team. But we lacked chemistry. Sophomore year definitely was a rebuilding year,” Manders said. “Junior year, we were there. But we didn’t have the mental (side). This year we gained all the mentality. The biggest difference was our mentality in us being so strong this year.”

Manchester finished 27-1, its only loss to Class A Semifinalist Dexter. The Dutch entered postseason play ranked No. 3 in Class C, while Nouvel was No. 4.

Along the way the last three weeks, Manchester also eliminated No. 2 Niles Brandywine and two more teams that had received votes in the final Associated Press poll, Ypsilanti Arbor and Adrian Madison.

The Dutch knew how to beat strong teams. But the good news Saturday is they also knew how to climb out of a deficit.

Manchester had gotten down early against Michigan Center in the Regional Semifinal and trailed Riverview Gabriel Richard by eight just minutes into Thursday’s eventual seven-point win. This time, the Dutch found themselves down 14-2 to Nouvel with less than a minute to go in the first quarter.

“The thing is, we’ve seen more pressure defense before. … We just weren’t moving to the seams they gave us,” Manchester coach Cori Kastel said. “We were forcing things. We weren’t patient. And when we try to force and make things happen, that’s when we fall apart instead of maintaining our composure.”

But where other teams might have, Manchester didn’t lose it.

Nouvel had eliminated two top-10 teams during the tournament, including No. 1 Reese. The Panthers closed out a number of elite squads throughout the season. 

The Dutch didn’t become the last.

Nouvel outrebounded Manchester 12-4 during the first quarter; Manchester outrebounded Nouvel 31-16 the rest of the game. Nouvel shot six free throws and made two during the first quarter, while Manchester didn’t have an attempt. Nouvel made two free throws on seven tries the rest of the game; Manchester made 17 of 21.

“Somehow, offensively, we really struggled. We weren’t executing the way we did in the first quarter. For whatever reason, we just lost that flow in our offense,” Nouvel coach Kris Hengesbach said. “And then, coupled with them making big 3-point shots, when we did make a stop they’d get an offensive rebound and put it back in. That did us in.”

“We didn’t play like we were down either. We were just playing our game,” said Dutch senior center McKenna Erkfritz, who had game highs of 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. “When we had a chance to push the ball, we pushed the ball. We really composed ourselves. We used what we’ve been using all season, and it worked for us.”

When Manchester took its first lead of the game on an Erkfritz jumped with 2:48 to play in the third quarter, more than a thousand maroon-clad fans in Breslin’s northeast corner erupted.

The Dutch pushed the lead to 35-32 by the end of the quarter. And only a jumper by Nouvel senior Taylor Hengesbach with two seconds to play brought the final margin back to five.

She finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists in her final game of an all-state career playing for her mother Kris. Junior Rachel McInerney added 15 points and six rebounds.

“Our student body is really close; our school is kinda like a family, and I knew they were still proud of us in the end even though we didn’t come out with the number one trophy,” Taylor Hengesbach said. “They’re still proud of us, and I’m still proud of our team.”

Click for a full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Manchester players prepare to embrace senior McKenna Erkfritz during Saturday's medal ceremony after winning their first Class B championship. (Middle) Lady Dutch senior guard  Taylor Manders finished with nine points, five rebounds and six assists. (Click to see more at

Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.

Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.

“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”

The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”

It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.

“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”

Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.

The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.

“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”

Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game. 

That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.

“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”

Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.

“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”

Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.

Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic. 

“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.