Muskegon senior – Basketball
During her four seasons at Muskegon, Cook has contributed at every position and in a variety of ways. Her variety of skills and strength as a leader, in addition to elite talent, all were on display last week during one of the most statistically impressive two-game stretches of a memorable career – earning her the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Cook, a 6-foot point guard who also has played on the wing and in the post for the Big Reds, had 26 points and 22 rebounds as Muskegon came back from a 15-point deficit to defeat East Kentwood 50-47 on Jan. 19. She finished the week with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists Friday in a 72-27 win over Grand Rapids Union. Muskegon is 8-2 this winter and tied for second in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Black, and 52-28 over her four seasons with two league and one District championship.
She averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds per game as a junior, when she went over 1,000 points for her career. This winter, she’s taken those contributions to another level, averaging 27 points and 16 rebounds per contest. After earning all-state honorable mention as a freshman and sophomore, Cook made the first team last season and is a likely frontrunner for the Miss Basketball Award, which will be given to the state’s top senior in March after a vote by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. Cook has signed to continue her career at Michigan State University and carries a 3.3 grade-point average. She is considering studying sports administration or sports medicine.
Coach Rodney Walker said: “She has taken the needed approach to learning on and off the court. She has accepted the responsibility of being a role model in the community and for future Lady Reds. She has learned how to play all five positions, and that has helped her understand the game. She has owned the responsibility of running our team as the primary point guard. … Mardrekia is one of the most caring, unselfish, and complimentary players for her teammates. And fans watching her play may not understand anything about her humble spirit! I truly believe that she has so much more room to grow. She has not reached her full potential yet. Once she attends Michigan State University, and matures, she will begin to transform into one of the most unbelievable players that we have ever seen in the girls game.”
Performance Point: “I just go out with the mindset of winning, willing to do anything to help my team win. I never really go into a game with a gameplan like, ‘Mardrekia, these games you could drop 50 points.’ A lot of people want me to make a statement and drop 50 – but if you can have 20 points, 22 rebounds, 11 assists, I’ll take that over 50 points. Scoring just shows you can score; that shows you’re an all-around player. I didn’t have any idea that number (of rebounds against East Kentwood) was that high. After the game, our stat keeper came up to me and said I had a monster game. I just like to be all over the place (and) I love to rebound.”
Complete player: Walker noted how Cook combines strong ball handling skills with the ability to get to the basket, but also see the floor and get all of her teammates involved – products of a high basketball IQ. Cook’s favorites of her many skills are her ability to penetrate and rebound. “I’ve always had the strength of going to the hole and finding gaps. And rebounding, I can jump. I don’t even think I boxed out (against East Kentwood). I just out-jumped everybody. I can probably put my wrist over the rim; I’ve gotten a dunk down before.”
Watching and learning: “When you watch basketball, you observe all the spots. You have to have a high IQ, see the whole floor at times. Stephen Curry, Maya Moore, Kevin Durant … I just love them. I love that Stephen Curry isn’t that big – he’s actually really small – but he’s got so much heart, the definition of heart. Kevin Durant is an all-around player. He can push the point, he can shoot, play inside. And Maya Moore is not human for a girl; she can do everything and she’s won at every level.”
Spartans will: “I just love it there. A lot of people talk about family, but they don’t really mean it. But when I went (to visit MSU) around summer time, everybody – football players, volleyball players, basically every sport – was in the weight room mixed up, pushing together, wanting every sport to dominate.”
Big Reds rising: “I’ve never been so confident in my players. I see us going really far and I would love to play on Michigan State’s floor before I get there. Definitely my goal is to get there. We still have work to do, but I see us getting pretty far.”
– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during 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, and responds 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.
Previous 2015-16 honorees
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Muskegon’s Mardrekia Cook finishes a drive against Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. (Below) Cook directs the Big Reds’ offense as point guard, but has played on the wing and post as well during her high school career. (Photos courtesy of the Muskegon girls basketball program.)
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:
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.