P-W Wins OT to Earn Historic Opportunity

March 21, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – Pewamo-Westphalia has played in three MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals. Three more teams have ended seasons in the Semifinals. Four more teams on top of those reached Quarterfinals and were done.

Total, that’s 10 teams that had made the final week of the season before this one. And now the Pirates have earned another opportunity to celebrate for all of them.

P-W will play for its first championship thanks to a 37-33 overtime win over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep on Thursday that also set the record for the lowest-scoring Semifinal in MHSAA girls basketball history.

Despite scoring six or fewer points during the second, third and fourth quarters, the Pirates outscored Arbor Prep 7-3 in the extra period to reach their second Final in three seasons.

“We’ve been here so many times before, and it’s frustrating when you just miss it by such a short amount,” P-W junior guard Ellie Droste said. “So this year being able to make it to the Finals again, and hopefully we can come out with the win … at practice every single day we work for these moments. We work on defense, we work on offense, we work on pressure situations. And that’s what got us here.”

The Pirates (26-1) will take on Flint Hamady in Saturday’s 4 p.m. Division 3 championship game at Calvin College.

Droste and Hannah Spitzley were freshmen on the P-W team that fell 46-44 to Detroit Edison in the 2017 Class C Final. Rachel Huhn was a sophomore sub on that team and then played 20 minutes as a junior in last season’s Semifinal loss to the Pioneers.

But the program’s drive for this opportunity goes back much farther than the last few years. The 1983 and 1984 teams both lost in Class C Finals – the 1983 Pirates to Hamady.

Arbor Prep (19-7) was last season’s Class C runner-up and playing in its fifth straight Semifinal.

“I was a 10-year-old boy back in 1984, 85, watching Carol Bogard Rademacher take teams to Western Michigan back at that time and fall short with great teams and great kids that were extremely well-coached,” Pirates coach Steve Eklund said. “It’s that hurdle we just haven’t been able to get over. So I’m excited for these kids, I’m excited for our community, I’m excited for all of these girls basketball teams we’ve had over the last 30 years that have been there and just not gotten over the hurdle. It just burns inside of me to go get that win Saturday, and we’re going to do everything in our power to go get that win for all of the teams from the past.”

To earn the opportunity, P-W had to hop a few hurdles Thursday. Arbor Prep featured one of the top freshmen in the state in guard Mya Petticord and 2018 all-state honorable mention Mahri Petree. And both teams struggled to get the ball through the hoop – P-W made 33 percent of its shot from the floor and Arbor Prep checked in at 29 percent, and combined they connected on just 7-of-33 3-point shots.

The Pirates ended the first quarter up 14-7. Arbor Prep stormed back to make it 18-18 at the break. For the game, the score was tied five times and the lead changed seven.  

Droste scored to give P-W the first lead of overtime 28 seconds in, and she made two free throws to make the advantage 34-30 with 1:28 to play. Senior Karli Waddell came up with a huge 3-pointer for Arbor Prep to cut the lead to one with 33 seconds left on the clock. But Spitzley made 3-of-4 free-throw tries over the final 12 seconds, and Arbor Prep got off only one shot after Waddell’s 3-pointer.

“I think we lost to the state champion,” Arbor Prep coach Scott Stine said. “(I’m) disappointed we couldn’t score a few more points, questioning whether we should’ve been more aggressive defensively. That’s a coaching call … we’ll look at after today and decide if we should’ve been more aggressive, should’ve pushed the tempo.

“If you’d told me the score would be 34-30, I would’ve said it was 50/50 who would win the game. If you’d told me someone got to 50 points, I’d have said Arbor Prep would’ve won.”

Petticord led Arbor Prep with 14 points, and senior Kashyra Jackson had 10 and eight rebounds. Spitzley scored 16 to lead P-W, while Droste had 15 points and four assists. Junior Addison Bauer didn’t score a point and attempted just one shot, but grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

“My players made adjustments. Defensively after the first quarter, I thought they were extremely solid,” Stine said. “I thought we made things tough on them, just the same way they made things tough on us.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Pewamo-Westphalia’s Ellie Droste makes a move toward the basket during Thursday’s second Division 3 Semifinal. (Middle) Arbor Prep’s Alaya Mack seeks an opening.

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

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.