Nouvel Sets Stage for Photo Finish

March 14, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – A photo at the Hengesbach home shows Saginaw Nouvel coach Kris and her then-seventh grade daughter Taylor hugging after the Panthers’ first MHSAA girls basketball championship, in 2007.

They’re hoping to take the same picture Saturday, but this time with mom and daughter celebrating as champions together.

Nouvel earned that opportunity Thursday with a 44-32 Semifinal win over Houghton at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. The Panthers will play in their fourth championship game under Hengesbach and for their first title since also repeating in 2008.

“Sometimes we drive separately to practice,” Taylor Hengesbach joked about being coached by her mom. “But no, I wouldn’t ask for anything else. It’s the best experience you can have.”

“Like Taylor said, it’s surreal,” Kris Hengesbach added. “I pinch myself every day that we get to share this journey together that we’ve always talked about. It’s pretty cool.”

At that, and in typical mother-daughter fashion, Taylor told her wet-eyed mom to stop before she too broke into tears.

No doubt, Kris Hengesbach could recognize she had this kind of team on the way. The No. 4 Panthers will face No. 3 Manchester at 4 p.m. Saturday for the championship.

And Taylor's had a good idea what it would take as well.

“I remember that (2007) team being so energetic and confident,” she said. “The school was so supportive, and we couldn't have done it without those aspects. The team chemistry and the student section, and everyone being involved.”

Nouvel student cheerers traveled en masse Thursday to see the Panthers jump to an 11-0 lead over the first five minutes. Houghton played Nouvel nearly even the rest of the way, but could get only within seven of the lead.

The No. 7 Gremlins (23-3) nearly pulled closer, just missing stealing the inbounds pass after junior Elisa Jurmu’s basket with 1:34 to play made the score 40-32. Instead, Houghton didn't score again.

Junior center Rachel McInerney had 16 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks to lead the Panthers (25-2), and Hengesbach added 13 points.

Jurmu and senior guard Alexa Johnson led Houghton with 11 points each, but the Gremlins as a whole had a tough time getting established against the 6-2 McInerney in the post. Houghton was outrebounded 44-31 and shot only 20 percent from the floor while often being forced to attack from outside.

“It goes back to shooting. We missed shots we've hit throughout the season. Maybe they blocked a couple, maybe they got into our minds a little bit,” Houghton coach Julie Filpus said.

“The part that frustrated us is we feel good about our inside-outside attack. But their length affected our inside attack, and we had to rely on our perimeter (shooting). When shots don’t fall, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Nouvel has now beaten three top-10 teams during the tournament, in addition to Class B No. 1 Freeland and reigning Class D champion Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes during the regular season.

“With my experience as a coach and going through all of this, to me the key is you've got to have team leadership, and we have it. Talent obviously, and chemistry,” Kris Hengesbach said. “You can’t rely on one person every single night. We've got threats on the floor at every position, and everyone steps up every single game.

“I told them to just soak it up. It’s a special time, and they’re a special team.”

Click for the full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Saginaw Nouvel's Taylor Hengesbach (44) drives around a Houghton defender during Thursday's Class C Semifinal. (Middle) Houghton's Alexa Johnson (13) looks for an open teammate. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
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
Sept. 1:
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.)