Performance: White Pigeon's Claycee West

January 16, 2020

Claycee West
White Pigeon senior – Basketball

The 5-foot-8 senior guard scored a school-record 41 points during a 58-39 win over Marcellus on Jan. 7, breaking her previous single-game school record of 38 points scored as a sophomore to earn the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.” West also became her school’s all-time leading scorer Dec. 17 against Bangor, breaking her coach Brooke McClure’s career points record of 1,224, and West is since up to 1,308 after eight games this winter.

For the season, West is averaging 21.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.4 steals, 2.9 assists and a blocked shot per game. She has led White Pigeon to a 6-3 start after the Chiefs finished 8-13 in 2018-19 – after which West was named to The Associated Press’ Division 3 all-state team. She was an all-region selection as an outside and middle hitter in volleyball this fall, and a league, county and Regional champion as a track sprinter last spring. She also ran cross country during her sophomore year, when she was featured on Second Half for her multi-sport success. West will continue to play basketball after high school for Taylor (Ind.) University, which made the NAIA Division II national quarterfinals a year ago.

West fills her time outside athletics as well. She carries a 4.0 grade-point average and is tied for first academically in her graduating class – and will bring 32 college credits with her to Taylor. She also serves as her White Pigeon class president. West plans to study kinesiology at Taylor, in preparation for becoming a physical therapist.

Coach Brooke McClure said: “I have had the honor of coaching Claycee since she was a freshman. She has had a huge impact on our basketball program and not only that, but on me as a coach. Her work ethic and desire to become a better ball player has also inspired me to put more work into the game and become a better coach for her and her teammates. In small schools like White Pigeon, it is rare to have an athlete as dedicated and as hard-working, along with (having) tremendous athletic ability, to play for our school. She is so smooth and makes the game fun to watch.  Sometimes she still surprises me when she does a certain move or makes a difficult shot. … She is such a good example on how to be a great leader. Even when things haven't gone her way, she has adapted and overcome any adversities she has encountered. We are truly lucky to have her be a part of our basketball program and our community, and I am so proud of the young lady she has become.”

Performance Point: “In the third quarter, I just shot the 3 a ton, and I couldn't miss,” West said of her 41-point performance. “I was just on target that game. It was close the whole time, so it didn't really feel like I was doing that much. I didn't notice I had that many until I hit 39 at the end of the third quarter. ... Coming in freshman year even, this was my goal, to break the (career scoring) record. I had a solid sophomore year, and then junior year too, so I knew coming into my senior year that it was going to happen. And so I wasn't really stressing about it, because the chances of it not happening were almost at zero. So this year I'm more focused on getting the team better, getting the team ready for when I leave. I've had a couple of big games this season, but that wasn't the focus. Just to break these records and be leading my team at the same time, that's the best thing ever ... to be able to accomplish my goals and accomplish team goals at the same time.”

‘When I leave,’ what I hope to leave: “I want (my teammates) to take the game into their own hands. For a while, they didn't know how to do that. They're so young, and someone's gotta step up and lead. I have a pretty competitive nature, and I want that to stir in them that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to. Because they're an athletic group; they can play ball, but someone's gotta be leading that. And that's what I'm trying to instill. ... I'm a pretty vocal leader. When I see something, I say it. When it's time to be intense in practice, I let them know that's the time to be (their) best. In sprints, I'm trying to be the first one, and (I'm) coaching everyone to do their best. And just really being intense on the court, during games, during practice, building myself and others to our fullest potential. I think this year, it's starting to click.”

Play them all: “I think it's just the fact that (playing multiple sports) keeps me from getting burnt out on a single sport, and playing volleyball makes me better at basketball, and basketball does the same (for volleyball) in different aspects. It makes me all-around such a better athlete and just makes me compete at a higher level, I think. ... I'm very sad that these next four years I won't be playing volleyball. Track's a little different – it's not my favorite thing. But if I could, I'd play both (basketball and volleyball).”

I love to compete: “I love to win. Just to compete ... I've been raised all my life to be competitive. I get it from my mom. She's a very competitive person. She's instilled it just throughout life. I strive to be the best in anything I can be in at all, whether that be in school, in sports or life in general. My mom really pushes me to be that person. She's my volleyball coach now, and at a young age she was my coach too. I don't know if it was just her doing that or her interaction with me. She just holds me to a high standard and doesn't let me slack, and I appreciate that. She's always been a big part of volleyball and basketball for me; both of my parents have. … Not being able to play volleyball (in college) will be hard. But not being able to play with her is going to be even harder.”

President West: “I started off doing student council in middle school. And just leading – I love to lead. I love to make sure everything is done right. … It keeps me busy. It keeps me doing something active. I get to learn everybody's names. I get to know everyone, be part of everyone's life. I just really like to be that influencer, I guess.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Past honorees

Jan. 10: Seth Lause, Livonia Stevenson hockey - Report
Dec. 5: Mareyohn Hrabowski, River Rouge football - Report
Nov. 28:
Kathryn Ackerman, Grand Haven swimming - Report
Nov. 21:
Emily Van Dyke, Southfield Christian volleyball - Report
Nov. 14:
Taylor Wegener, Ida volleyball - Report
Nov. 7:
Carter Solomon, Plymouth cross country - Report
Oct. 31: 
Jameson Goorman, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Oct. 24:
Austin Plotkin, Brimley cross country
- Report
Oct. 17:
Jack Spamer, Brighton cross country - Report
Oct. 10:
Kaylee Maat, Hudsonville volleyball - Report
Oct. 3:
Emily Paupore, Negaunee cross country - Report
Sept. 26: 
Josh Mason, South Lyon soccer - Report
Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) White Pigeon's Claycee West prepares to shoot a free throw against Bangor. (Middle) West pulls up for a shot just inside the 3-point arc. (Photos courtesy of the White Pigeon athletic department.)

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.