Marian Finishes Familiar Foe to Advance

March 14, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – As all-girls schools located 7.2 miles apart in the Detroit suburbs, Bloomfield Hills Marian and Farmington Hills Mercy have plenty in common.

And then there’s the basketball rivalry they took up a level this winter.

They had a combined tie score of 149-149 over their first three games entering Friday’s Class A Semifinal at the Breslin Center. They split regular-season meetings, and hence, the Detroit Catholic League Central championship. Mercy won their third matchup, in the Catholic League Tournament final, but by just a point. The Marlins were ranked No. 3 at the end of the regular season, and the Mustangs were No. 5.

Those similarities are easy to point out. But it might’ve been even easier to measure how badly Marian wanted to move on to Saturday’s championship game while simultaneously ending its rival’s season.

“After that loss … we just picked each other up. From that moment on, every sprint we ran was to get back at Mercy,” Marian senior forward Laura Bruton said. “We knew we were going to meet them later on, in this game, and it just means everything. It’s been our dream to get here too, but just beating Mercy here is so much more important to us as a team than basically being here, in my opinion.”

Marian (24-2) will be in East Lansing one more day and with one more celebration in mind, thanks to a 67-55 defeat of Mercy in their fourth and final meeting of 2013-14. The Mustangs will face Canton in the noon Saturday Final. 

As closely as Marian and Mercy had played each other this season – and with many of these same players over the last few – there wasn’t much left to surprise.

And that meant the Mustangs were plenty prepared for the multiple Mercy press defenses that had slowed them down, especially in their most recent meeting.

That also allowed Marian coach Mary Cicerone to predict to her team a 15-point win Friday if it found a way to break the Marlins’ pressure.

Close enough.

“We kept saying, ‘Here is comes,’ and it came,” Cicerone said. “We panicked a little bit, somebody traveled, somebody threw the ball away. We took a timeout and got organized. Mercy made runs; we made our runs back.”

Marian did lead the final 26 minutes of the game – although that and the final score were not good indicators of the closeness of the game until the Mustangs took control for good with a 13-4 final run beginning midway through the fourth quarter.

And it certainly hurt Mercy’s effort when senior starting guard Allie Grocyca left with an injury after playing only 11 minutes, and senior Candice Leatherwood was slowed by a knee injury as well.

“I said to the kids, we got behind early and it seemed like we were trying to dig ourselves out of the hole, climb back over the mountain,” Mercy coach Gary Morris said. “Every time we’d get close, something else would happen.”

Junior guard Kara Holinski scored a game-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and four assists for Marian. Junior forward Brittany Gray added 14 points and nine rebounds, and freshman guard Samantha Thomas scored 13 points.

Junior guard Taylor Jones scored 15 points to lead Mercy (25-2), and Leatherwood scored 14 including the 1,000th of her four-year varsity career. Senior Tyler Parlor came off the bench with eight points and 11 rebounds

“I told my assistants I thought I’d be retired before we ever got back here,” said Cicerone, who has totaled 559 wins over 31 seasons and last led the Mustangs to an MHSAA title in 1998. “But this junior group came in, and you just can’t boot them out of the gym. … They just work and work and work. We knew we had something.”

“We’ve been definitely looking forward to this game for a long time,” Holinski added. “Not in our wildest dreams did we think we’d be able to play Mercy again after the Catholic League loss. Coming into (this) game, we were so focused, so determined to beat them. We love each other so much, and we wanted to do it for each other.”

Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marian guard Samantha Thomas works to get by Mercy’s Candice Leatherwood on Friday. (Middle) Marian’s Laura Bruton brings the ball upcourt surrounded by teammates and Mercy’s Taylor Jones. 

HIGHLIGHTS: (1) Mercy tightens things up against Marian in the third quarter when Sierra LaGrande cans a 3-pointer and Taylor Jones follows with a steal and a layup. (2) Kara Holinski scores on a putback after Marian beats Mercy's pressure to start a 9-3 run midway through the third quarter.

Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner

March 24, 2023

Regan FinkbeinerRegan 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.

@mhsaasports 🏀POW: Regan Finkbeiner #performanceoftheweek #basketball #champion #congrats #huskies #hemlock #letsgo #moana #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok#mistudentaid #fyp ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat

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MI Student Aid's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

2022-23 Honorees

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
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Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
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Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
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Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
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Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
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Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
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Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
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Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
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Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
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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
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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.)