Preview: An Opportunity to Finish as Champions

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 6, 2021

Last season’s sudden halt due to COVID-19 left many girls basketball teams across Michigan stranded heading into Regional Finals.

A number of those teams have earned second chances to finish title runs this weekend.

Below is a schedule of all Semifinals and Finals – Semifinals are Wednesday at Breslin Center in East Lansing and Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, and all four championship games will be Friday at Breslin.

DIVISION 1 - Breslin Center 
Wayne Memorial (17-2) vs. Detroit Renaissance (12-4), 3 p.m.
Hudsonville (21-1) vs. Midland Dow (22-0), 5:30 p.m.

DIVISION 2 - Van Andel Arena
Detroit Country Day (15-2) vs. Newaygo (20-1), 3 p.m.
Portland (18-2) vs. Parma Western (18-4), 5:30 p.m.

DIVISION 3 - Breslin Center
Grass Lake (18-1)  vs. BYE
Kent City (20-0) vs. Calumet (20-0), 12:30 p.m.
(Hemlock opted out of the remainder of the tournament.)

DIVISION 4 - Van Andel Arena
Carney-Nadeau (22-0) vs. Fowler (14-4), 10 a.m.  
Bellaire (17-3) vs. Petersburg-Summerfield (15-5), 12:30 p.m.

Finals - Friday
Division 1 - 12:30 p.m.
Division 2 - 5:30 p.m.
Division 3 - 3 p.m.
Division 4 - 10 a.m.

Spectator limits remain in effect, but all Semifinals will be streamed live on and viewable with subscription, with free audio broadcasts via the MHSAA Radio Network. All four Finals will be broadcast by Bally Sports Detroit (formerly FOX Sports Detroit), the first three on the primary channel and the Division 2 Final on the PLUS channel. All four also will be available live on the FOX Sports Detroit Website and the FOX Sports Go! app.  

Below is a glance at all 11 teams contending this weekend. Click for the full program. (Statistics below are through Regional Finals except Kent City's includes its Quarterfinal. Rankings are based on the Michigan Power Ratings generated to seed teams at the District level.)

Division 1

12-4, No. 2
League finish: Did not play league games this season.
Coach: Shane Lawal, second season (34-6)
Championship history: Class B champion 2005, three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 74-64 over No. 13 Macomb L’Anse Creuse North in Quarterfinal, 48-35 over No. 8 Farmington Hills Mercy in Regional Final, 59-43 over No. 16 Grosse Pointe South in Regional Semifinal, 73-65 over No. 27 Wayne Memorial, 57-46 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian.
Players to watch: Kailee Davis, 5-4 sr. G (16.9 ppg, 36 3-pointers, 3.5 apg, 3.2 spg); Nika Dorsey, 5-11 sr. G (7.1 ppg, 3.3 apg); Shannon Wheeler, 6-2 sr. F/C (11.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
Outlook: Renaissance is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since back-to-back Class A runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011. Davis made the all-state first team last season and Dorsey earned an honorable mention, and Davis will continue next season at Northern Kentucky University. Senior 5-10 guard/forward Mikyah Finley also stretches defenses, averaging 11 points per game with 35 3-pointers entering the week.

21-1, No. 9
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Casey Glass, 12th season (174-106)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 56-42 over No. 1 East Lansing in Quarterfinal, 52-47 over No. 6 East Grand Rapids in Regional Final, 62-43 over No. 10 Byron Center, 56-52 and 65-50 over No. 37 East Kentwood.
Players to watch: Jaci Tubergen, 6-0 jr. G (12.1 ppg, 37 3-pointers, 3.9 apg); Alaina Diaz, 5-6 jr. G (10.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.0 spg); Maddie Petroelje, 6-0 soph. F (10.7 ppg, 46 3-pointers).
Outlook: Hudsonville avenged its lone loss of the season against East Grand Rapids in the Regional Final, then handed East Lansing its only defeat to reach the Semifinals for the second time after previously making the trip in 2015-16. Tubergen earned an all-state honorable mention last season and leads a lineup that has put together a combined 43-2 record over the last two seasons and has only one senior starter.

22-0, No. 7
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Coach: Kyle Theisen, seventh season (143-21)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 42-32 over No. 5 Hartland in Quarterfinal, 41-31 (Regional Final) and 76-55 over No. 3 Flushing, 36-26 (District Final) and 45-33 over No. 36 Midland, 50-44 over Division 2 No. 5 Frankenmuth.
Players to watch: Jada Garner, 5-6 sr. G (15.7 ppg, 43 3-pointers, 2.4 spg); Alexa Kolnitys, 5-6 jr. G (14.9 ppg, 54 3-pointers, 5.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 3.8 spg); Abby Rey, 5-10 jr. F (11.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Outlook: Dow has been building toward this run with league championships every season under Theisen and four District titles over the last five years. Garner earned an all-state honorable mention last season and with Kolnitys leads a sharp-shooting team averaging nearly nine 3-pointers per game. Only three of Dow’s games were decided by single digits this winter.

17-2, No. 27
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association East
Coach: Jarvis Mitchell, seventh season (114-45)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 59-35 over No. 32 Temperance Bedford in Quarterfinal, 68-60 over No. 24 Saline in Regional Final.
Players to watch: Alanna Micheaux, 6-2 sr. F (22.9 ppg, 11.9 rpg); LaChelle Austin, 5-8 sr. G (11.8 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 spg); Davai Matthews, 6-2 jr. F (8.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg).
Outlook: This will be Wayne’s third trip to the Semifinals in four seasons and comes after sixth-straight league and fifth-consecutive District titles. The Zebras present some serious post presence, in part led by returning all-stater Micheaux. She connects on an incredible 63 percent of her shots from the floor and has signed with Minnesota, while Austin is the main distributor and will continue next season at Eastern Michigan.

Division 2

15-2, No. 10
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Jerica Williams, first season (15-2)
Championship history: Thirteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2018), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 45-40 over No. 15 Imlay City in Quarterfinal, 51-49 over No. 42 Wixom St. Catherine in District Final, 57-43 over Division 4 No. 2 Plymouth Christian Academy.
Players to watch: Chelsea Abulu, 6-0 sr. F/C; Jaidyn Elam, 5-9 fr. G; Emma Arico, 5-5 fr. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Country Day is something of a known unknown; the Yellowjackets have one of the most successful programs in state history, but also return to the Semifinals with a coach new to Michigan, one senior and the rest of the roster made up of underclassmen. Williams coached championship teams in California and Texas after finishing a college career that began at UCLA and finished at San Diego State. Country Day had finished 2-18 last season before flipping things completely around this winter.  

20-1, No. 16
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Gold
Coach: Nate Thomasma, sixth season (64-65)
Championship history: Class C champion 1984 and 1985.
Best wins: 55-48 over No. 9 Grand Rapids West Catholic in Regional Final, 47-37 over No. 6 Montague in Regional Semifinal, 49-32 and 69-37 over No. 46 Central Montcalm.
Players to watch: Jaxi Long, 5-6 jr. G (12.1 ppg, 4.0 apg); Jaylee Long, sr. G (12.6 ppg, 33 3-pointers, 3.6 apg); Emmerson Goodin, jr. F (12.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg).
Outlook: Newaygo was another team seemingly on the verge of something special last season when COVID hit, but the Lions have bounced back to make the Semifinals for the first time since their back-to-back championship seasons. The only loss came by five in February to No. 3 Portland. Jaxi Long earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

18-4, No. 13
League finish: First in Interstate 8 Athletic Conference
Coach: Gina Fortress, fourth season (57-28)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 55-52 over No. 35 Lansing Catholic in Regional Final, 54-31 over No. 32 Jonesville in District Final, 62-39 over Division 1 No. 42 Jackson Northwest.
Players to watch: Hillary Griffin, 5-10 jr. F (13.3 ppg, 1.7 bpg); Alyna Lewis, 5-6 jr. G (11.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.2 spg); Reece Hitt, 5-3 jr. G (9.7 ppg).
Outlook: Western is making its first trip to the Semifinals and doing so with only one senior – so the future should be bright as well. The Panthers’ losses were all to teams with at least 12 wins this winter, so they’re tested – plus coming off back-to-back three-point wins. Griffin earned an all-state honorable mention last season for a team that was 21-2 when COVID struck.

18-2, No. 3
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Coach: Jason Haid, fifth season (67-42)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 47-41 over No. 21 Escanaba in Quarterfinal, 53-49 over No. 5 Frankenmuth in Regional Final, 38-33 over No. 16 Newaygo, 38-36 over Division 1 No. 25 Haslett.
Players to watch: Ashley Bower, 5-10 jr. G (19.5 ppg, 2.8 spg); Ava Guilford, 5-1 jr. G (9.0 ppg, 29 3-pointers); Breckyn Werner, 6-0 jr. C (5.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
Outlook: The Raiders are making their first Semifinal trip since 2010 and riding a 12-game winning streak. Portland has improved from a combined 14-30 over Haid’s first two seasons to 20-4 last winter and this season winning second-straight league and District titles. This is another team that should bring back most of the roster next season; only one of three seniors total starts. Bower earned all-state honorable mention as a sophomore.  

Division 3

Record/rank: 20-0, No. 11
League finish: First in Western Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Matt Laho, third season (51-14)
Championship history: Class C champion 2015.
Best wins: 73-69 over No. 10 Maple City Glen Lake in Quarterfinal, 65-55 (OT) over No. 14 St. Ignace in Regional Final, 57-41 over No. 15 Menominee in Regional Semifinal, 51-36 (District Final) and 62-54 over No. 23 Negaunee.
Players to watch: Eli Djerf, 5-5 sr. G (20.1 ppg, 45 3-pointers, 5.6 apg, 3.5 spg); Alexis Strom, 5-4 jr. G (9.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.6 spg); Marybeth Halonen 5-8 jr. G (13.6 ppg, 3.1 apg).
Outlook: Calumet has navigated impressively a difficult tournament path to get back to the Semifinals for the first time since its championship season of 2015 – and a roster with only three seniors (and one starting) speaks to the team’s potential for next year as well. The Copper Kings have won 19 games two seasons in a row and clinched a league with four teams in double-digit wins despite the abbreviated schedule.

Record/rank: 18-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Cascades Conference
Coach: Andrea Cabana, fifth season (93-18)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 49-35 (Quarterfinal) and 59-42 over No. 12 Brooklyn Columbia Central, 63-56 (Regional Final) and 80-69 over No. 1 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 89-64 over Division 2 No. 1 Harper Woods Chandler Park, 54-48 over Division 2 No. 13 Parma Western, 69-62 over Division 1 No. 2 Detroit Renaissance.
Players to watch: Lexus Bargesser, 5-10 jr. G (21.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 3.8 spg); Abrie Cabana, 5-10 sr. G (19.9 ppg, 31 3-pointers, 4.3 apg); Gabrielle Lutchka, 5-11 jr. G (12.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg).
Outlook: Grass Lake is making its first Semifinal trip after earning its first Quarterfinal win since 1979. Abrie Cabana made the all-state second team last season, while Bargesser and Lutchka earned honorable mentions, and Bargesser is one of the most highly-recruited juniors in the state. Grass Lake’s only loss was to unbeaten Division 2 power Detroit Edison, despite playing one of the strongest regular-season schedules in the state in any division.

Record/rank: 14-8, No. 62
League finish: Fourth in Tri-Valley Conference 10
Coach: Scott Neumeyer, eighth season (137-48)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 52-33 over No. 18 St. Charles in District Final, 55-43 over No. 4 Reese in District Semifinal.
Players to watch: Chloe Watson, 5-9 soph. G (15 ppg, 51 3-pointers, 5.1 rpg, 3.3 spg); Regan Finkbeiner, 5-6 soph. G (15.5 ppg, 3.4 spg).
Outlook: The Huskies have reached the Semifinals for the first time since 2011 with one senior, one junior and eight underclassmen, with three sophomores starting. Last season’s run was halted by COVID in the Regional Final. Hemlock opened this season with four losses and was .500 heading into the playoffs, but then handed St. Charles its only defeat in avenging a 15-point loss from mid-February. Finkbeiner earned all-state honorable mention last season. UPDATE: Hemlock has opted out of the rest of the tournament.

Record/rank: 20-0, No. 6
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Silver
Coach: Scott Carlson, 12th season (228-49)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 52-19 over No. 16 Schoolcraft in the Quarterfinal, 53-37 over No. 24 Muskegon Western Michigan Christian in the Regional Semifinal, 63-32 (District Final) and 43-32 over No. 26 Morley Stanwood, 50-27 over No. 24 Hart.
Players to watch: Kenzie Bowers, 5-10 sr. G (20.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 5.0 apg, 5.0 spg); Jenna Harrison, 5-8 sr. G. (11.2 ppg, 3.5 apg); Madelyn Geers, 5-10 fr. G (11.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg). 
Outlook: Kent City will be playing in its first Semifinal after making the Quarterfinals for the second time in four seasons. The Eagles set an MHSAA record with 47 points in a quarter earlier this season and 75 in a half, and they’ve been one of the state’s most prolific 3-point shooting teams over the last decade. Harrison’s 86 3-pointers last season ranked 10th-most all-time. She earned an all-state honorable mention last year, and Bowers made the first team. Bowers will continue at Illinois State. 

Division 4

Record/rank: 17-3, No. 3
League finish: First in Ski Valley Conference
Coach: Brad Fischer, 11th season (225-59)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 43-42 (OT) over No. 16 Saginaw Nouvel in Quarterfinal, 43-39 over No. 20 Frankfort in Regional Final, 44-30 (Regional Semifinal), 54-33 and 37-31 over No. 18 Gaylord St. Mary, 57-33 over Division 3 No. 21 Elk Rapids.
Players to watch: Katie Decker, 5-7 sr. F (9.8 ppg); Emersyn Koepke, 5-7 sr. G (8.8 ppg); Jacey Somers, 6-0 soph. C (14 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg).
Outlook: Bellaire will be playing in its first Semifinal after reaching the Quarterfinals for the second time both over the last four seasons and in program history. The only losses were to Division 3 teams that finished a combined 21-4 this winter. Somers earned an all-state honorable mention as a freshman.

Record/rank: 21-0, No. 5
League finish: League standings were not kept this season.
Coach: Ken Linder, second season (41-4)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2001).
Best wins: 59-41 over No. 17 Ewen-Trout Creek in Regional Final, 62-52 over No. 12 Rudyard in Quarterfinal, 65-50 and 49-41 over Division 3 No. 42 Bark River-Harris.
Players to watch: Tessa Wagner, 6-3 jr. C (23.3 ppg, 17.9 rpg, 5.3 bpg); Taylor Kedsch, 5-8 sr. G (10.7 ppg, 31 3-pointers, 3.6 apg); Haley Ernest, 5-5 sr. G (8.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.8 apg).
Outlook: Carney-Nadeau is a combined 49-5 over the last two seasons and making its first Semifinal appearance since 2005. Wagner made the all-state second team last season and surely is one of the most anticipated players to watch this weekend. Only Bark River-Harris, in the teams’ first matchup, has gotten within single digits of the Wolves.  

Record/rank: 13-4, No. 4
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Nathan Goerge, 11th season (131-111)
Championship history: Class D champion 1991, two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 62-32 over No. 9 Athens in Regional Final, 64-24 over No. 40 Martin in Quarterfinal, 53-41 (District Final) and 47-40 over No. 42 Portland St. Patrick.
Players to watch: Mia Riley, 5-9 jr. G; Emma Riley, 5-7 soph. G. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: Fowler is back at the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons and after reaching the Regional Final a year ago before the season was halted. Mia Riley made the all-state first team last season and Emma Riley earned an honorable mention. All four losses this winter came against teams that won at least 11 games during the regular season, including one defeat to Division 2 semifinalist Portland.

Record/rank: 15-5, No. 43
League finish: Fourth in Tri-County Conference
Coach: Mickey Moody, fifth season (41-61)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 44-24 over No. 11 Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in Quarterfinal, 41-38 over No. 8 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist in Regional Semifinal, 51-48 over No. 38 Sand Creek.
Players to watch: Abby Haller, 5-6 soph. G (12.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 5.1 apg, 4.0 spg, 3.0 bpg); Grace Kalb, 5-5 sr. G (7.1 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.7 spg); Breanna Weston, 5-6 sr. G (11.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, 6.0 spg).
Outlook: Summerfield jumped from 5-16 two seasons ago to 13-8 last winter and now has reached the Semifinals for the first time coming off its first Regional title. The Bulldogs have won 10 of their last 11 games. Kalb and Weston are the only seniors; the roster also includes five freshmen and two sophomores among 11 players total.  

PHOTO: Portland's Breckyn Werner blocks off the lane during her team's win over Haslett during the regular season. (Click for more from

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.