Marian Wins Rematch of Top-Ranked in A

March 20, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Bloomfield Hills Marian is the reigning Class A girls basketball champion. 

But sophomore guard Samantha Thomas admitted Friday the Mustangs were nervous the first time they faced Detroit Martin Luther King this season, on Feb. 26. 

Marian didn’t see always-powerful King during its championship run. The Mustangs did win that first meeting this winter, but by only one point.

Nerves aside for their Class A Semifinal rematch, the story unfolded much differently – but with a similar ending. 

Top-ranked Marian never trailed after the first five minutes and furthered its already-impressive body of work this season by downing the No. 2 Crusaders 57-37 at the Breslin Center.  

“I think today we were ready for them. We actually played with confidence,” Williams said. “The last game we were nervous. We’d never played them. Today we went out and played the best we could.” 

On Saturday, the Mustangs can prove for the second straight season that no other team in Class A can play better. They’ll take on DeWitt in the noon Final at Michigan State.

Marian’s surge in confidence was just one change from the first meeting. Coach Mary Cicerone made some adjustments to the Mustangs’ stingy man-to-man defense designed to make life a little harder on King senior point guard Janae Williams, who had 17 points in February. 

Williams scored a game-high 18 points this time, but eight came on free throws as she had a tougher time driving to the basket against additional defensive attention.

“In this particular game, they were a little bit more aggressive,” King coach William Winfield said. “They took us out of what we wanted to do, which was good on their part. We did the same thing when we played them (the first time). 

“They put a lot of pressure on my point guard, and that was it. Any time you have a situation when they take my point guard out of the game, now we have problems.”

Thomas scored with 36 seconds left in the first quarter to launch an 11-2 run that put Marian ahead 20-11 three minutes into the second. The Crusaders cut the deficit back to seven points three minutes later, but never got closer. 

Thomas had 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds, plus three blocked shots. Senior guard Jaeda Robinson led Marian with 15 points and senior forward Brittany Gray added 14 as the team made 50 percent of its shots from the floor.

Senior center Malaysia McHenry added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Crusaders (24-2); she and Williams both were four-year varsity players for Winfield and led this first King run to the Semifinals since 2006.

Marian (25-1) is undefeated against in-state competition, its only loss to Chicago Whitney Young. The Mustangs are 50-3 over the last two seasons – and beat the team that handed them their 2013-14 losses, rival Farmington Hills Mercy, in last year’s Semifinal. 

Four starters from last season’s championship game likely will be in the lineup Saturday, and Robinson was the team’s top sub a year ago.

“This is what we planned for. Nothing else would’ve been satisfactory,” Cicerone said. “I’m sure you’d see a lot of tears if we weren’t here. But they came to play today, and I’m very proud of them.” 

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

PHOTOS: (Top) Marian’s Samantha Thomas works to get past King’s Leah Mathis during Friday’s Class A Semifinal. (Middle) King’s Janae Williams starts the offense; she finished with a game high 18 points. Bailey Thomas defends for Marian.

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

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:

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.