Riley Sisters, Fowler Shine on Statewide Stage

By Jason Schmitt
Special for

April 9, 2021

EAST LANSING — Fowler certainly is a small town.

Located just 30 miles northwest of Lansing, everyone in town knows everyone. And if they didn’t already know the Riley sisters’ prowess on the basketball court, they sure do now. 

Sisters Mia and Emma Riley combined to score 34 points in leading Fowler to a 54-20 victory over Bellaire on Friday in the Division 4 title game at the Breslin Center. It was Fowler’s first MHSAA Finals championship since 1991. 

“I’ll constantly have relatives who drive by their house and they’ll say, all the time, that they’re in their driveway playing one-on-one,” Fowler head coach Nathan George said of the sisters. “So it’s no coincidence that they’re in this spot, that they’re this good. All their hard work is paying off.”

Emma Riley, a sophomore, scored the first four points of the game and her older sister, Riley, scored her team’s first nine points of the second quarter as Fowler overwhelmed Bellaire early on. Fowler led 29-7 at halftime. It shot 48 percent from the field while limiting Bellaire to just three field goals and 12 percent shooting.

“We have confidence that teams will struggle against our speed and aggressiveness,” George said. “It hasn’t worked every game, but for the most part I think teams have a hard time adjusting to it because we have so many guards we can rotate in. It worked pretty well tonight. 

“When we get those fast starts and the girls get their confidence, it’s a pretty special thing to see.” 

Bellaire struggled throughout the first half, connecting on just 3 of 25 shots. It was just 1 for 11 in the first quarter and at one point missed 13 straight shots while falling behind 17-3.

“It definitely is upsetting because normally we can bounce back when shots aren’t falling in,” Bellaire senior Katie Decker said. “We have confidence in each other and hold each other up. Normally they’re going in, but I don’t know what was happening today. I guess nerves and we never settled in, but we did the best we could.”

Fowler’s defense played a big part in Bellaire’s shooting woes. George’s team collected 12 steals and forced 18 turnovers in the game. The Riley sisters accounted for eight of those steals.

2021 D4 Girls Basketball Final - Fowler

“They can shoot and they can defend,” Bellaire head coach Brad Fisher said. “They shot the ball so well and they just play a different level of defense. We knew it was coming, but to simulate it, you can’t. I don’t know that we could have done too much differently when a team shoots like that and can defend like that.”

Mia Riley, a junior, was 6 for 8 shooting in the first half, while Emma was 3 for 5.

“I try to go into the game with a lot of confidence and I know my sister does too,” said Mia, a junior. “Coach always tells us, ‘Be confident and if you get a shot, it’s going up.’ So that’s kind of our mentality. We just didn’t want to hold back this game.”

Emma Riley said she didn’t let the arena atmosphere get to her.

“(Coach) always says if you get an open look, shoot it. So nothing changed on this court,” Emma said. “We kept saying that it was an important game, but it’s just like it was back at Fowler. We just tried not to overthink it and shoot with confidence like always.”

Mia Riley finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and three steals. Emma Riley had 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals for Fowler (16-4). Junior Emma Halfmann and sophomore Grace Epkey each added six points.

George said he’s known how good the Riley sisters are on the basketball court. But after Friday’s performance, other people will, too.

“Being from a small town, I don’t think people get to appreciate them,” George said. “We don’t get a lot of media coverage. There aren’t a lot of people in our gyms. Their skill level is incredible. I appreciate that we get to this type of stage, where others can appreciate how good they are.”

Bellaire finished its season with an 18-4 record. Decker and junior Jacey Somers led the team with six points apiece. 

“Our girls had a pretty darn good season, too,” Fisher said. “We’ve talked about what this team has done and what this team is capable of. We have so many people to thank, the community, the MHSAA has been awesome. 

“I’m just so proud of my girls. This was a fun ride. Eventually the season has to come to an end. And we had a couple special victories along the way. It’s obviously not the outcome we wanted, but we still made history.”

Click for full box score

PHOTOS: (Top) Fowler's Avery Koenigsknecht (3) works to get past Bellaire's Emersyn Koekpe during Friday's Division 4 Final. (Middle) Fowler's Leah Wieber (22) works to get to the basket. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

St. George's Senior Season Filled with Historic Trip, Sizzling 3-Point Shooting

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 21, 2024

Delaney St. George helped Kingston reach its first MHSAA Girls Basketball Final this winter – and along the way finished her high school career among the most prolific 3-point shooters in state history.

The four-year varsity senior made 87 3-pointers this season for the Division 4 runner-up Cardinals, good to tie for 10th on the single-season list after she made 93 as a junior to rank fourth all-time.

She finished her Kingston career with 290 3-pointers in 793 attempts over 94 games – good for second on the career 3-pointers list.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click on the heading to see the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Hemlock’s 18-6 run this season was fueled in part by more successful 3-point shooting. The Huskies made single-season lists with 170 3-pointers and 552 attempts, and also for making 14 3-pointers Jan. 5 against St. Louis.

Senior Mia McLaughlin made nine of 15 3-point shots for Frankenmuth in a Feb. 6 win over Birch Run as the Eagles made the team record book list with 15 3-pointers total. They also were added for 14 3-pointers in a Feb. 20 win over Bay City John Glenn. McLaughlin will continue her career at Ferris State.

McBain sophomore Peyton Grant scored all 27 of her points Jan. 17 against Houghton Lake on nine 3-pointers to make the single-game list in that category.

Seniors Autumn Tremblay and Ceara LeBlanc earned Brimley’s first girls basketball record book listings this season. Both made single-game lists in a Feb. 27 win over Harbor Springs Harbor Light Christian – Tremblay scored 21 points during the first quarter and LeBlanc had 16 steals for the game – and LeBlanc also was added for 141 steals total over 25 games this past winter.

Reed City’s run at the Central State Activities Association title this winter was fueled in part by 3-point shooting. The Coyotes finished one game out of first, but made the records with 517 3-point attempts over 24 games – and just missed the made 3-pointers list connecting on 143.

Howell sophomore Gabrielle Piepho added her third record book listing over her first two seasons this winter making 89.2 percent of her free throw attempts to rank eighth on that single-season list. Howell as a team also made the 3-point attempts list with 536 over 25 games, and also just missed the 3-pointers made list with 146.

Saline finished the 2023-24 season among the all-time leading 3-point shooters again, this time with 192 – 14th-most for one season – in 587 attempts over 24 games. Sophomore Keira Roehm led the way with 78 3-pointers, tying for 21st on that list.

Junior Tamerah Peterson led Sterling Heights Parkway Christian to a District title this season, providing a record-setting defensive boost in addition to her offensive skills. She finished with 173 steals – eighth-most for one season – over 21 games.

Niles Brandywine reached Breslin Center this season with another stellar distance shooting display, making the record book with both 186 3-pointers and 610 attempts from beyond the arc in finishing Division 3 runner-up.

Alie Bisballe capped her career at Lake City this winter by helping her team reach the Division 3 Semifinal at Breslin Center – and by reaching the MHSAA girls basketball record book in two categories. The 6-foot-4 post player made the lists with 329 rebounds and 188 blocked shots, both in 28 games as Lake City finished 25-3. She will continue her career at Wisconsin.

Ironwood junior Hanna Vaughn will enter her final season next winter already on the career 3-pointers list. She’s made 155 3-pointers over her first three seasons and 70 games on varsity.

PHOTO Kingston’s Delaney St. George (10) pulls up for a shot during the Division 4 Final against Ishpeming.