Performance: Kent City's Kaitlyn Geers

December 8, 2015

Kaitlyn Geers

Kent City junior - Basketball

Geers, a 5-foot-11 forward in her third season on the Kent City varsity, scored the game-winning basket on a near baseline-to-baseline lay-up (see video below) during the closing seconds of her team’s 59-58 win over Muskegon on Dec 4 – earning her the inaugural Michigan National Guard "Performance of the Week." 

The Class C Eagles have beaten the Class A Big Reds during the opening week three seasons in a row, but were in jeopardy of seeing that streak end when Musekgon senior Mardrekia Cook – arguably the top player in the state and a Michigan State University recruit – stole an inbounds pass intended for Geers and scored with 17 seconds to play to put the Big Reds ahead by one. On the ensuing inbounds, Geers instead passed it in, got the ball back and drove the length of the court for the winning score. She finished with a team-high 23 points. 

Geers averaged 18.5 points and seven rebounds over two games last week, and 11.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game in helping the team to a 19-4 record in 2014-15. Kent City is a combined 38-9 with her on the roster over the last three seasons. Only a junior, Geers has committed to sign next year with Saginaw Valley State University, where she plans to study athletic training and eventually physical therapy. She also plays volleyball and sprints for the track and field team, carries a 4.0 grade point average and is a member of her school’s student council and National Honor Society chapter.

Coach Scott Carlson said: “Kaitlyn has worked constantly on her game to be the player she is today. It is exciting to see the growth and confidence as she matures. She has the ability to get to the rim that many players do not have, and on top of that she is unselfish. She makes the extra pass to the open player to get her team a better shot. She is fundamentally sound and has an all-around game in that she can post up, bring the ball up the court, pass, rebound and defend. Kaitlyn creates match-up problems for many teams.”

Performance Point: “When I got the ball, I knew I had about 10 seconds to get down the court. I knew I had to get there, get somebody the ball or get to the rim. I knew I didn’t have much time; I tried to keep myself calm and keep my team calm.”

Sign of things to come: “We put a lot of work toward that game. We always talk about preparing for Muskegon in the beginning of the season, getting in shape for running the court and getting ready to run the court and play defense because (Cook) is a great driver. The little things, we really, really work only. (Winning Friday) shows we’re going to get better. We pushed for that big win, and we’re going to push for (every) win at that time, and hopefully we’ll go far.” 

On the rise: Geers grew eight inches as an eighth grader, changing her basketball game dramatically. “When I was younger, I wasn’t nearly as fast as I am right now. I was a lot shorter. I was really uncoordinated. I grew into my body a little bit. When I was younger, I was the ninth man, 10th man. I was not into my body yet.”

Train to train: “I love biology and science, and I’m going to major in athletic training and pursue physical therapy. I had some encounters with physical therapy (during the above-mentioned growth spurt) and I wanted to go into the health field – and not deal with blood.”

All-Around Achiever: Geers made first-team all-league in the Central State Activities Association Silver as a sophomore in helping her team to league and District titles, but she also played a big role in the volleyball team’s first league title since 2001. She earned all-league second-team honors for track in helping that team to a league title this spring as well. “It keeps me in shape. Bouncing from one to another, I don’t have to get in shape multiple times. … I always say I don’t like to sit down. Sometimes in class I have to stand up and walk around. It keeps me focused. I like to be busy, I guess. I play basketball, I play volleyball and run track, and I go to school. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My whole family is like that. We run on sports, friends, family and school.” 

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Beginning this week and continuing throughout the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, respond as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our Nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

PHOTO: Kaitlyn Geers defends at the top of the key during last week's win against Grand Rapids Union. (Photo courtesy of Kent City athletic department.)

Few in Number, Tecumseh Pursuing Sizable Success with Zajacs Setting Pace

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

December 5, 2023

TECUMSEH – First, the good news: Nearly everyone on the Tecumseh girls basketball team has aspirations to play college basketball – and several of them at a very high level. 

Southeast & BorderNow, the twist: There are only eight girls in the entire program. 

Tecumseh head coach Kristy Zajac, starting her seventh season, is unfazed by the lack of numbers. Tecumseh will field just a varsity team this season but should contend for a Southeastern Conference White championship and pursue a deep playoff run as well. 

“This is a great group of girls,” Zajac said. “At least six or seven of them want to play college basketball. The basketball IQ is so much higher than we have had in the past. We’ve never had a full team of basketball-first kids.” 

Zajac said that dynamic has changed practices and the approach on the court. 

“We do a lot more high-level skill stuff and high-level thinking,” she said. “We do more read-and-react stuff where they have to play on the fly, which makes us harder to scout. We want to try and give the kids a chance to use that basketball IQ and make opportunities for themselves on the floor so they can score without having to run a set play.” 

The list of college prospects starts with her daughter, 6-foot-2 junior Alli Zajac. She holds about 15 Division I offers, and the list seems to grow daily.  

She’s been receiving recruiting attention since before she played a game in high school. As a freshman, she was the Lenawee County Player of the Year and has been all-state both of her first two seasons. Last winter, she scored 433 points as Tecumseh went 20-5.  

Her sister, Addi Zajac, hasn’t played a varsity game yet but has received a lot of attention as well as a college prospect after several great years of travel ball. She’s 6-foot and a true center. 

“She wears a size 14 shoe,” Zajac said. “We are hoping next year she is 6-3 or 6-4. She has such a strong body; I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone that strong at her age. She can push people around.” 

The sisters are very different types of players. They also are extremely competitive, as witnessed when they play 1-on-1 at home. 

“It usually ends in a fistfight,” Zajac said. “They are both very competitive.” 

Kristy Zajac coaches her team, which finished 20-5 in 2022-23. The team is loaded with more talent than just the Zajac sisters. 

Sophomore Makayla Schlorf made 28 3-pointers last season, and sophomore Chloe Bollinger made 26. Junior Ashlyn Moorhead averaged just under double figures in scoring and averaged 3.7 assists a game last year. Junior Lauren Kilbarger also is back from last season and joined by newcomers Faith Wiedyk, a junior, sophomore Sophia Torres and freshman Amaria Brown.  

Maddie VanBlack is another travel ball veteran but is out this season due to tearing an ACL. 

Tecumseh athletic director Jon Zajac – Kristy’s husband – said it is disappointing Tecumseh won’t field a junior varsity team this year. He said kids playing travel ball in other sports, along with the youth of the current team, are factors. 

“It is frustrating,” he said. “Hopefully this is the only year for that.” 

Kristy (Maska) Zajac grew up near Tecumseh in Britton, played four years on the varsity and scored more than 1,800 career points under coach Bart Bartels, now an assistant on her staff. She played at Eastern Michigan University, where she was one of the top scorers in school history. Jon Zajac, played at EMU and professionally overseas.  

The entire family is crazy about basketball. In addition to Alli and Addi, son Ryder played four years at Tecumseh before heading off to college to play football, and the youngest in the family, Avery, is a budding star in her own right. 

“There were a few travel games this year where my team was short on numbers and Avery got to play with Addi and Alli,” Kristy Zajac said. “That was cool to see. She held her own. She won’t get to play with Alli in high school (Avery is in seventh grade), but she’ll get two years with Addi. I got to play with my sister, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.” 

Jon Zajac stops by practice now and then to coach as well. He and Kristy coach Avery’s travel team. 

“He is a great person to have as part of the program,” Kristy Zajac said of her husband. “Anytime I can get him to help with the post players and with the girls is great. He’s a huge help.” 

The family often schedules trips around basketball and is seemingly always pulled in multiple directions as the three girls compete at various levels. 

“It’s pretty much basketball all day, every day,” Zajac said. “It’s fun to see how the kids enjoy it and love the game.” 

Tecumseh, which has won a combined 39 games over the past two seasons, has loaded up its schedule, playing a collection of nonconference teams that made deep tournament runs and won conference championships last season. Tecumseh plays in the Icebreaker event at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep against Detroit Country Day on Saturday and also faces Temperance-Bedford (23-1 last season), reigning Division 3 runner-up Blissfield and Grand Blanc.  

Without a senior on the team and no JV squad, Tecumseh will play essentially this group for the next 50 or more games. It’s a two-year window with virtually the same team. 

“We’re doing what we can to win this year,” Zajac said. “We want this year to be super successful. We are just taking it one game at a time and going from there. We want to keep building and getting better every day, every game. Hopefully by the end of next year, we’ll be where we need to be.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tecumseh’s Alli Zajac makes her move toward the lane last season against Adrian. (Middle) Kristy Zajac coaches her team, which finished 20-5 in 2022-23. (Photos by Deloris Clark-Osborne/Adrian Daily Telegram.)