Marian Encores with Repeat Performance

March 21, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – There’s pressure, and then there’s the expectation Bloomfield Hills Marian had for this season. 

Nothing less than another Class A championship would suffice for a team returning four starters from last year’s title run. 

It just so happens the Mustangs are especially good under pressure – and exceptional at the Breslin Center.

Top-ranked Marian ran its Breslin Finals winning streak to four and championship streak to two Saturday with a 51-37 win over No. 4 DeWitt. 

“I feel like it’s the big stadium. I know there’s a lot of pressure to perform well, so I want to go out there and try my hardest,” said Marian sophomore guard Samantha Thomas, who has averaged 14.2 points in four Finals weekend games over the last two seasons. “I try to do that every game, but I guess I just do it more at Breslin.

“Sam’s a real people pleaser. She wants everyone to be happy,” Marian coach Mary Cicerone added, “and she knows we were counting on her big-time today.” 

Total, the Mustangs have now won six girls basketball championships – tying with two other schools for second-most in MHSAA history. Their seven appearances in MHSAA Finals are tied for fifth-most among girls basketball programs.

They looked more than comfortable after the opening tip this time. Marian (25-1) scored the first 10 points of the game and held DeWitt without a point until the final 28 seconds of the first quarter. 

But it wouldn’t be that easy the rest of the afternoon.

The Panthers (25-2), playing in their first MHSAA Final since 1977 and only a 10-minute drive from home, were led by five seniors who all had spent at least three seasons on varsity. They wouldn’t fold quickly.

In fact, the Panthers took a 17-16 lead on junior Lilly George’s basket with 1:31 to go in the first half. 

Twice more Marian built a lead. Twice more the Panthers fought back, taking their final lead at 32-31 with 6:54 to play. But they couldn’t withstand a final rush by the Mustangs and the Thomas sisters in particular.

“It just says that we never want to give up,” DeWitt senior guard Claudia Reid said. “Even though it was a hard loss for us, it was a great journey we went on. We went on it together, and we’ll always remember this.” 

Marian outscored DeWitt 20-5 the rest of the way. Samantha Thomas had four of those points and junior sister Bailey scored nine despite both playing with four fouls. The Panthers made only one of 10 shots during those final seven minutes.

“I got my fouls pretty early, so I was sitting on the bench for a long time and it’s hard to watch knowing you’re in foul trouble and can’t play,” Bailey Thomas said. “But once I got to go back out there I was going to give it all I’ve got because I didn’t want to be back on the bench.” 

Samantha Thomas finished with 17 points and five steals, while Bailey had 12 points, although both played only 18 minutes. Senior guard Kara Holinski picked up some of the scoring load with 10 points, and senior forward Brittany Gray had seven points and eight rebounds. 

Reid had 12 points and four assists for DeWitt, and George added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior forward Summer Ward hit a pair of 3-pointers off the bench for the second straight day and finished with 11 points and six rebounds.

Gray, Holinski and senior guard Jaeda Robinson all played on the Marian varsity as freshmen and were part of the program’s only losing season since 1986. But they finished that winter with a District title and went a combined 68-7 over the last three. 

“They came every day to practice hard. They worked. Thanksgiving Day, ‘Can we come in and have practice? And I said I’ve gotta cook, so we came in early,” Cicerone said. “When we look at their picture on our gym wall, I’m going to tell everybody that if you want to get back there, you’ve gotta work. These kids were the epitome of what hard work and dedication are about, and that’s their legacy.”

Click for the full box score and video from the postgame press conference.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Brittany Gray blocks a shot during Saturday’s Class A Final at the Breslin Center. (Middle) Samantha Thomas looks for open teammates while DeWitt’s Abby Nakfoor (42) and Lilly George (44) defend.

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.