Like Parents, Ayrault Twins 'Born to Play'
By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half
November 30, 2017
GROSSE POINTE WOODS – Kim Ayrault and her husband Andy were careful not to overly encourage their children to play sports, specifically basketball, the sport they played so well for so long.
But if their children did decide to play, they would teach them to play the right way and be there every step of the way.
Julia and Joe Ayrault, juniors at Grosse Pointe North, are the first set of twins born to Kim and Andy. Annabel and Adam are the second. Born nearly four years apart, all four play basketball and the younger pair play multiple sports.
The Ayraults are a family whose lives often revolve around practices and games, and driving to and from said events. It can be simultaneously rewarding and tiresome, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kim recalls one of her first memories of Julia, a 4-year-old bouncing up and down the court.
“She went to the basket and scored,” Kim said. “Then she came back down with her ponytails flying and waving her hands up in the air, and I said to myself, no, no, no. I went up to her and said, you can’t do that. You can’t celebrate like that. She learned. She never did that again.
“She was competitive at that age. She was born ready to play.”
Julia Ayrault started bouncing a basketball just about the time she learned to walk. When her parents introduced her to the sport, she dove in head first and hasn’t looked back.
She tried soccer. That didn’t last. As a second sport she preferred baseball, but basketball was always first.
Julia and Joe, 16, both play varsity basketball and anticipate having more than just a good season. Their parents were also fine basketball players in the Pointes, Kim at North, Andy at Grosse Pointe South. The Ayraults’ other set of twins also play basketball, at Grosse Pointe Shores Our Lady Star of the Sea. Annabel and Adam are in the seventh grade and, yes, they’re good players, too. Annabel plays volleyball as well and Adam plays baseball. He was a member of the Grosse Pointe Shores/Woods Little League team that reach the World Series in Williamsport, Pa., this past summer.
After graduating from high school, the Ayraults began dating while playing basketball at Wayne State University. Andy was a junior, Kim (Reiter) a sophomore. Both had fine careers, both played four years and Andy went on to have a brief career professionally in Europe. The two are tall: Andy is 6-foot-7 and Kim is 6-foot, and, not surprisingly, their children are tall. Julia is 6-2, Joe 6-5.
It’s too early to tell, but Julia just might be the best. A three-year starter for longtime coach Gary Bennett, she has committed to Michigan State and is one of the state’s top players in the class of 2019. Bennett coached Kim in high school, and he first saw Julia play when she was in elementary school.
Andy has coached Julia, on and off but mostly on, since she started playing. Currently Andy is Bennett’s assistant coach. Andy also coached Julia at Star of the Sea and began coaching his two eldest children when they were in elementary school.
“From third to sixth grades I had her playing on the boys AAU team,” Andy said. “I used to put them on the same team because she was so good. In the seventh grade we switched out of AAU to the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). Going on a weekend and playing four AAU games in one day wasn’t doing her any good. Playing two CYO games and practicing three days a week was better.
“Joe should have a breakout season. Julia had a breakout summer. She played more on the perimeter. She’s athletic enough to cover the post and take the ball to the rim.”
Andy has never stopped working with Julia, even if he wasn’t officially her coach. She developed a love for the game at an early age and Andy continued to teach, lending support as Julia’s game continued to improve.
“She blows our mind all the time,” Kim said. “We’ll say to each other later, did she really do that? When I watch, I see it from the stands and it’s a different look than what Andy sees. I’ll yell something at her during the game. Andy doesn’t like me doing that. I still do it.”
In addition to her playing basketball with the boys for three years, the athletically gifted Julia also played outfield and was a pitcher on a little league baseball team with her brother for two years. Also teaming up with Julia on that little league team was Evelyn Zacharias, one of Julia’s best friends and now a member of the North varsity basketball team as well.
One of Julia’s first memories of playing sports is a positive one.
“I remember when I was at Star of the Sea, we went a long way (in the playoffs),” she said. “It started to be a lot of fun. A lot of those girls who were on that team are at North with me. Evelyn and others. We have the memories.”
Kim and Andy have memories, too, and there are many more to come.
Right now, their lives are often discombobulated trying to give the four equal time. It’s a great goal in theory, but much more difficult to accomplish in reality.
A typical day will find Kim driving home after work as an elementary school teacher to pick up Julia from practice and get Adam to his game at Star of the Sea on time. One particular evening the MSU women’s team is playing the University of Detroit at Calihan Hall and Kim and Julia are going. Home by 10 p.m., there’s time for a snack before the good nights are said.
“People, many of our friends, tease us that we make them do this,” Kim said. “We’ve never done that.”
Kim keeps a schedule of all the comings and goings on a board hanging in the back of the house. She does it alone. She doesn’t trust anyone else to keep track.
Andy is in between jobs so his free time, if you can call it that, consists of completing Kim’s honey-do list.
“We were laughing the other day,” Kim said. “How did we do this before when (Andy) was working? I’m just trying to be patient.”
At the very least, 20 years of marriage will teach you that.
In addition to his work with Julia, Andy coaches Adam’s team at Star of the Sea, and he’s usually the one taking Julia and Joe on trips, whether it be sports-related or the occasional trip to check out a college campus.
Julia said with every member of the family involved in sports in one capacity or another, it helps keep them all together, at the dinner table, riding in a car or wherever.
“(Sports) is a big topic all of the time,” she said. “We have fun with it. We mess with each other.
“My dad has taught me a lot about the game. The biggest thing is to put others before yourself. My biggest thing is to get my teammates involved. Even if they’re not going to play in college, it should be a good experience for them. I try to make sure everyone has their role. I don’t want it to be about me.”
Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) The Ayrault family, from left: Annabel, Adam, Andy, Kim, Julia and Joe; inset: Julia and Joe suiting up for Grosse Pointe North. (Middle) Julia and Joe celebrate a birthday together in 2012. (Below) Julia and her dad/assistant coach Andy anchor the right side of the team photo after last season’s District title win. (Photos courtesy of the Ayrault family.)
Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Quarterfinal Preview
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 21, 2023
It finally feels like spring, at least here in East Lansing. And tonight, 32 teams will attempt to build into their spring breaks a trip to Breslin Center.
Below is a glance at all 16 of tonight’s Quarterfinals across four divisions, with all games tipping off at 7 p.m. unless noted. Winners advance to Thursday and Friday’s Semifinals, and we’ll detail the teams more then as we preview those concluding rounds of this year’s tournament.
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Ann Arbor Huron (23-2) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (25-1) at University of Detroit Mercy, 5:30 p.m.
After an early postseason exit last season, 2021 Division 1 runner-up Huron has put together another deep playoff run. Sophomore guard Macari Moore leads three players averaging double-digit scoring at 17 points per game. After winning its first Regional title last season since 1998, Cass Tech is back at the Quarterfinals for a second straight March. Darius Acuff is another super sophomore, also leading three double-digit scorers at 21.6 ppg to go with 5.8 assists per contest.
Grand Blanc (24-2) vs. Rochester Adams (17-8) at Lake Orion
Last season’s runner-up is two wins away from playing for another title, but this time the Bobcats are led by first-year coach Tory Jackson. Seniors Tae Boyd (15.4 ppg) and RJ Taylor (14.3) are a strong 1-2 punch. Adams is coming off its first Regional title in this sport, with junior 6-foot-7 football standout Brady Prieskorn among top contributors for a Highlanders hoops team that has won seven of its last nine games.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (14-10) vs. Warren De La Salle (17-8) at University of Detroit Mercy
These Detroit Catholic League Central rivals will meet for the third time, with St. Mary’s winning the first matchup by 17 on Jan. 10 and the reigning Division 1 champion Pilots taking the rematch by 12 on Jan. 31. Sophomore Trey McKenney is a force at 25.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for the Eaglets, while Phoenix Glassnor is another sophomore standout leading De La Salle at 18.4 ppg.
Muskegon (24-2) vs. East Lansing (16-9) at Caledonia
East Lansing has won six straight and 12 of its last 14 games, with three of those wins over opponents responsible for four of their losses this winter. Only one starter is a senior, and sophomore Cameron Hutson leads the way at 19.3 ppg. Muskegon is in the midst of a ninth 20-win season over the last decade and earned its first Regional title since 2015. Senior Jordan Briggs (18.7 ppg) has qualified for the MHSAA single-season record list with 84 3-pointers, connecting on nearly 40 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.
Cadillac (22-4) vs. Saginaw (20-6) at Alma
The Trojans are seeking their first Semifinal appearance since 2013 and have lost only to Division 1 opponents this season, with guard Javarie Holliday leading a mostly senior-powered lineup at 15.8 ppg. Cadillac also won its Regional last season and is seeking to return to the Semifinals for the first time since 2015, with 6-6 junior Charlie Howell the leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.4 rpg).
Ferndale (18-8) vs. Goodrich (22-4) at Lake Orion, 5:30 p.m.
The Eagles are working to reach Breslin and the Semifinals for a third-straight season and have won 13 of their last 14 games while navigating a power-packed schedule again this winter. Senior Chris Williams leads a balanced lineup at 13.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Goodrich is a combined 93-20 over the last five seasons and playing to make the Semifinals for the first time with senior Jack Locey (18.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 spg, 45 3-pointers) among those filling the stat sheet.
Hudsonville Unity Christian (18-9) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (23-3) at Calvin University
These rivals will be filling Calvin for a rematch after South Christian won the regular-season meeting 58-50 on Dec. 16. The bad news for the Sailors is they lost leading scorer Carson Vis (17.7 ppg) to injury in the Regional Final, but senior Jacob DeHaan (13 ppg) leads three others averaging at least 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Unity has won 11 of its last 12 games, with two-point upsets of Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Grand Rapids Christian along the way. Juniors Trayton Fisher and Colin Neiuwenhuis both average about 11.5 points per game and have combined for 97 3-pointers.
Chelsea (21-5) vs. Romulus Summit Academy (24-2) at Milan
These are two more teams looking to reach the Semifinals for the first time, Summit having played in a Quarterfinal as recently as 2021 and Chelsea’s last trip to the season’s final week in 2000. Juniors Jacob Stephens (22.7 ppg) and Joseph Cabana (22.2) set a strong pace for the Bulldogs. The Dragons have doubled up all four of their postseason opponents so far and done the same in 16 wins total this winter.
Detroit Loyola (25-1) vs. Flint Beecher (21-4) at Waterford Mott
A 67-58 loss to Division 1 Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 29 remains the only defeat on Loyola’s list this winter. All five starters are seniors, with Dashawn Martin (15.1 ppg) leading three averaging double-figure scoring. Beecher’s losses were to Division 1 and 2 opponents, including three playing tonight. Robert Lee leads a senior-dominated lineup at 24.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game as the Bucs attempt to make the Semifinals for a third-straight season.
Laingsburg (25-0) vs. Ecorse (19-4) at Ypsilanti Lincoln
The Wolfpack’s closest game this season was seven points, its Regional Semifinal win against Jonesville, as it attempts to reach Breslin for the first time since 2013. Junior Zander Woodruff is averaging more than a point per minute of playing time, leading at 24.4 ppg. Ecorse is seeking a return trip to the Semifinals and has won 17 of its last 18 games. Senior guard Malik Olafioye also is putting the finishing touches on a high-scoring career.
St. Ignace (22-4) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (22-4) at Gaylord
St. Ignace is playing in its first Quarterfinal since 2001, seeking to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 1983. Junior Jonny Ingalls (22.4 ppg) leads three Saints averaging at least 13, plus he’s dishing 5.4 assists per game. St. Francis has won 11 of its last 12 games with that lone loss to Cadillac (see above) in overtime in the regular-season finale. Senior Wyatt Nausadis has paced the scoring at 20.1 ppg after quarterbacking the football team to a Division 7 runner-up finish in the fall.
Pewamo-Westphalia (19-6) vs. Niles Brandywine (24-2) at Portage Central
Brandywine has reached the final week for the first time with its first Regional title, and its only losses this season remain against Division 2 Benton Harbor. Junior Jaremiah Palmer leads a lineup with four players averaging at least 9.7 ppg at 12.9 per game. P-W is making its second-straight Quarterfinal appearance after edging North Muskegon by three and then Grandville Calvin Christian by two last week. Senior Jamison Eklund is averaging 22.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Painesdale Jeffers (25-1) vs. Munising (24-1) at Negaunee
The Upper Peninsula is guaranteed to send a one-loss team downstate to the Division 4 Semifinals, and for both programs it would be a first-time trip. Jeffers is playing its first Quarterfinal, and Munising its first since 1954. Junior Levi Frahm leads four Jets scoring in double digits at 20.5 ppg, while senior Kane Nebel is surrounded by a similar balanced attack and leads four double-digit scorers at 15.8 ppg.
Taylor Trillium Academy (21-3) vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (15-11) at West Bloomfield
Trillium is another first-time Regional champion, taking this step after falling just a four-point loss shy of reaching the Quarterfinals a year ago. Senior DaMaryon Fishburn is averaging 22.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Wildcats, and junior Keymarryon Fishburn adds 15.3 ppg. Cardinal Mooney has won seven of its last nine games to reach the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2016 and after falling in Regional Finals the last two seasons – avenging the 2022 loss to Genesee Christian to advance. Senior Trent Rice leads three double-digit scorers at 12.9 ppg.
Frankfort (17-8) vs. Hillman (22-4) at Gaylord, 5 p.m.
Frankfort is another team on a nice streak with eight wins over its last nine games including 50-44 over 2022 semifinalist Lake Leelanau St. Mary in last week’s Regional Final. Senior Emmerson Farmer and sophomore Carter Kerby supply the backcourt with between 10-11 ppg apiece. This will be Hillman’s fourth Quarterfinal over the last nine seasons as the Tigers seek their first Semifinal trip. Trenton Taratuta is a big-time scorer averaging 27.4 ppg with 60 3-pointers but also 9.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.2 steals per game.
Wyoming Tri-unity Christian (20-6) vs. Kalamazoo Phoenix (17-2) at Richland Gull Lake
This is a familiar spot for Tri-unity Christian, the reigning Division 4 champion. All five starters average between 6-13 ppg and four have high games of at least 20 points this season; senior Roy Fogg tops both lists at 13 ppg and 25, respectively. This is new territory for Phoenix, which won one game just two seasons ago but has won 10 in a row heading into this week. Senior Cameron Lewis-Atkins (19.9 ppg) leads five players averaging 11 or more points per game. Phoenix avenged one of its losses, to Eau Claire, in the Regional Semifinal.
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PHOTOS (Top) A fan holds up a sign supporting Painesdale Jeffers between the third and fourth quarters of last week’s Regional Final win over Stephenson. (Middle) Tri-unity Christian’s Roy Fogg pulls in a loose ball during his team’s Regional championship victory over Lansing Christian. (Top photo by Cara Kamps; middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)