Performance: Pittsford's Record Winners

March 23, 2017

Jaycie Burger & Maddie Clark
Pittsford seniors – Basketball

Burger and Clark capped an incredible run Saturday leading Pittsford to a 71-31 win over Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary that capped a second straight perfect season, second straight Class D championship run, and gave them an MHSAA record 103 career wins in earning the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week."

The Performance of the Week has recognized one athlete every week since it’s start during the 2015-16 school year, but splitting up Burger and Clark is impossible. They’ve led the Wildcats to a 103-2 record, and in addition to the two titles also a championship game appearance (and runner-up finish in Class D) in 2015 after they lost only one game as freshmen in a Class C District Final. Both scored 1,000 points during their careers, and Clark also grabbed 1,000 rebounds. This season, Burger, the point guard, averaged 19.1 points and 5.1 assists per game, with 73 3-pointers. Clark, the forward, averaged 16.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. Clark was named Class D "Player of the Year" by The Associated Press, and Burger also made the all-state first team. Both are 5-foot-9, and both will continue at Hillsdale College – Burger playing basketball but Clark playing volleyball.

They’ve been best friends and teammates since elementary school, and their successes extend past the basketball court. Clark made the Class D all-state first team in volleyball and Burger earned an honorable mention, and Clark won the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals discus championship as a sophomore and finished runner-up last season while Burger ran track her first two years of high school and made the Finals as part of relays to end both. Burger carries a 4.0 grade-point average and will be one of four valedictorians this spring, while Clark ranks fifth in her class at 3.98. Burger will major in biology with aspirations of becoming a physician assistant, and Clark will major in business at Hillsdale.

Coach Chris Hodos said: “I’d like to have them for four more years. They’ve done a great job for me, obviously. As freshmen, they were Class C, we lost to a really good team, or else we could’ve gone a little ways there. They’re just great kids. I remember watching them when they were in second grade; they were making left-handed layups in second grade, and you don’t see that, so you knew it was going to be a special group. They want to do everything the right way. … It’s really nice that they’re going (to Hillsdale) because it’s 10 miles from my house, so I can go watch them play at home games. I’m glad they’re both going to a great college, getting a great education, because they’re so smart.”

Performance Point: “I was just so happy to come off the court one last time, and to come off the court and know that we couldn't have done anything more,” Burger said. “There wasn't another game to be played. We came off, we were undefeated, we won the state championship, and there was nothing more we could've done. To know that we left it all on the court and gave every oomph we've got, it’s a great feeling.”

Perfect ending: “It’s been phenomenal. It’s surreal,” Clark said. “Could you ask for anything more? It was perfect. These last two seasons, we have been perfect. And that's doesn't happy very often, and I'm really thankful for my team and everyone; they make me a better player, and I'm going to miss them a lot.”

One more time: “Maddie’s my best friend in the whole world,” Burger said. “I’m just glad that our last game together, we could both just come out and perform as best as we could. It's really special that we could do that together in our last time ever playing any sport together.”

Record setters: “I didn't know that we could even be in (the record book) until the tournament started and I was like, 'Whoa, this could be real. We could get that.' It's awesome for us. Our goal wasn't records, but we just want to win.” Added Burger: “We played together for a long time. In junior pro, we won a lot too. We played AAU together all through middle school. We played together ever since the second grade. Accomplishing this record was never something we had in our radar. We never thought, 'Oh, I want to go undefeated all my high school career,' but we did want to win. We're competitors, and that was very important to us. We just practiced hard, and as it became closer, it became a goal. But all in all, we just wanted to win.”

To become champions: “I would say practice. Get in the gym, definitely, do your skills,” Burger said. “Every day we have a 20-minute skill period in practice … so I just think if you’re a little kid, you need to work on your ball handling, layups and try to get your shot so it’s one-handed.” Clark: “And you need to work hard, and believe in yourself.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 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 protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
March 16: Camden Murphy, Novi swimming & diving Read
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Pittsford's Maddie Clark works for an opening near the basket during Saturday's Class D Final against Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary. (Middle) Teammate Jaycie Burger makes a move toward the basket. 

Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.

Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.

“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”

The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”

It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.

“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”

Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.

The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.

“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”

Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game. 

That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.

“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”

Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.

“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”

Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.

Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic. 

“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.