Marshall Leaves No Room for Regrets

March 19, 2016

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING — Sal Konkle couldn't hold back the tears as she watched her Marshall basketball players celebrate the fulfillment of a dream that appeared to vanish 35 years ago.

Konkle was a star senior on the only other Marshall team to play for an MHSAA championship, but she was on the losing end of a 64-52 decision to Okemos in the 1981 Class B title game. 

In almost every case, that's where the dream ends. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes and goes. High school athletes move on with the rest of their lives, but can have lingering regrets about the championship that got away.

The first step toward redemption for Konkle occurred back in 1999 when she became Marshall's head coach and won her first 23 games. But 11 District championship teams in her first 15 seasons couldn't take it all the way. 

Her 16th season proved to be the sweetest, as Marshall beat Grand Rapids South Christian, 51-42, in the Class B championship game Saturday night at the Breslin Center.

"I got numerous texts from former teammates saying we can do it," Konkle said. "One is in the stands. She called me this morning. She said to me, 'Hey, I know you're busy, and I'll be there, but not a lot of people get do-overs in life, and you got a do-over. So, can you just make this happen?' I got a text from coach (Tom) Duffey, who was my coach at the time. He said, 'Second time's a charm; you've got this.'" 

Making the championship even more special for Konkle is she was able to achieve it with her 14 daughters — her actual flesh and blood, junior guard Jill Konkle, and 13 other girls she regards as adopted children.

"They're kind of all my girls," coach Konkle said. "When you grow up in a small town, these kids are over at your house. Jill hangs out with them. They go to proms. They do everything together. That's what makes it so special for us. These kids are close. This is something they're going to remember the rest of their lives. I remember doing it with my best friends. It's just very, very special." 

Jill Konkle said her mother doesn't bring up tales of her glory days or the opportunity that got away in 1981 often, but the topic came to the forefront more in recent weeks as the current group of Marshall players chased that elusive championship. This year's team and the 1981 squad are the only ones from Marshall to get past the MHSAA Quarterfinals.

"Only because we got this far did we talk about it more," said Jill Konkle, who scored a team-high 13 points against South Christian. "Other than that, not as much. She did bring it up with the team a bit. We talked about it the last couple of weeks quite a bit. I was always telling her, 'I'm gonna get it. I'm gonna beat you,' and I did." 

Marshall won the Class B title with a group of girls who have played together since their early elementary school years. It was back in those formative years that they became acquainted with the woman who would coach them to a championship as teenagers.

"We all have this respect for her," said Emily Delmotte, the only senior on the team. "I've had it since I was little, watching her teams since I can remember. She's always been a presence. It's not like the kind of coach that as soon as you get into high school is the first time you meet her. In basketball, the first time I met her was in first or second grade. She makes herself present. She's a part of the program, no matter what age you are." 

Coach Konkle's pregame message to her team hinted at the lingering pain of that 1981 loss.

"I told them, 'You can do anything for 32 minutes,'" she said. "'If you do this for 32 minutes, you're going to be state champions. If you don't do it for 32 minutes, you're going to regret that for the rest of your life.' Every timeout, every quarter, I'm telling them, 'Eight more minutes, eight more minutes, you've got this. Or 3:20, you've got this.' They're a resilient group. They're a hard-working group — and they got this." 

With the largest cheering section of the weekend in their corner, the Redhawks took the lead with 2:01 left in the first quarter and never relinquished it. Marshall built a 12-point lead late in the first half before taking a 25-15 advantage into the break.

When Nicole Tucker scored on the fast break with 4:24 left in the third quarter, Marshall had its biggest lead of the night at 33-19. 

South Christian, which had three seniors who played on the 2014 MHSAA runner-up team, battled back. A basket by Mariel Bruxvoort with 6:44 left in the game cut Marshall's lead to 37-32.

The Redhawks responded with a 5-0 run, all from the free throw line, to go up 42-32. What could have been a key moment for the Sailors came when Markayla Vander made a free throw and missed the second one, only to have Bruxvoort score off an offensive rebound and get fouled. When Bruxvoort made the free throw, South Christian had four points in a one-second span to get within 42-36 with 3:38 left. 

The Sailors didn't get a chance to build on that momentum, as Taryn Long made a 3-point play with 3:10 left to put Marshall up 45-36. South Christian couldn't put together consecutive scores the rest of the game.

"It took us a little while to get into an offensive flow," South Christian coach Kim Legge said. "Actually, I'm not really sure we did get into an offensive flow. Marshall did a good job with their defense on us. Obviously, they had scouted well. We've been behind before and usually can make runs, but they did an excellent job of stopping that. The momentum never did swing to our favor." 

Taryn Long finished with 10 points and Carlee Long had five assists for Marshall (26-1), which won its final 26 games after a season-opening 40-33 loss to Williamston.

Vander had 16 points and Jennifer DeBoer 13 for the Sailors (25-3), who had only four players score. Vander, DeBoer and Sydney DeYoung were the only holdovers from the 2014 South Christian team that went into the Class B title game with a 26-0 record before losing to Eaton Rapids. 

"It's definitely been a fun four years," DeBoer said. "I've enjoyed every second of the experience. I think the thing I'm going to miss the most are my teammates and all the memories we made. I'll never get these experiences back, so I'm just really thankful for them." 

Click for the full box score.

The Girls Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marshall players storm the floor while coach Sal Konkle, far left, covers her face for a moment after her team had clinched the Class B title. (Middle) Jill Konkle works to hold onto the ball with South Christian’s Jennifer DeBoer (4) trying to gain possession.

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.