Rockford Turns Breslin Orange On Way to Earning Championship Day Debut

By Tom Kendra
Special for

March 17, 2023

EAST LANSING – Even on St. Patrick’s Day, seemingly the entire town of Rockford managed to turn the normally green Breslin Center into a sea of orange for Friday’s second Division 1 Semifinal at Breslin Center.

Both coaches admitted that the raucous Rockford crowd – almost all wearing orange T-shirts with a Rams logo on the front and filling about half of the lower bowl – had a huge impact on the game, particularly the start, as the Rams bolted to a 24-7 lead after the first quarter.

“How about those Rockford fans?” said sixth-year Rams coach Brad Wilson, before he even introduced his players at the postgame press conference. “When you look out there and see a sea of orange, it’s unbelievable.”

Buoyed by that crowd and equally unbelievable shooting, Rockford blitzed Detroit Renaissance, 65-42, to advance to the Division 1 championship game for the first time in school history.

Rockford, 27-1 and winners of the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red, will face reigning champion West Bloomfield in Saturday’s 12:15 p.m. title game.

The game will be a rematch of last year’s epic Semifinal, where West Bloomfield prevailed, 66-63, before knocking off Hartland the next day for the title.

The Rams would love to get off to the type of start they had on Friday.

Rockford made 11-of-13 field goals (84.6 percent) in the first quarter, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, getting the huge crowd involved early.

“We didn’t come out scared at all,” said Rockford junior sharpshooter Grace Lyons, noting it was helpful that her team played at the Breslin last year. “We came out ready to play from the get-go, and now we want to finish this thing.”

Anna Wypych (2) makes a move toward the basket around a pick from teammate Grace Lyons.Lyons led all scorers with 23 points, making 3-of-6 from 3-point range, while senior Michigan Tech commit Alyssa Wypych scored 13 points with a game-high seven rebounds and her sophomore sister, Anna Wypych, added 12 points.

The Rams cooled off slightly in the second quarter, but still finished the half 15-of-21 from the floor (71.4 percent), and led 39-26.

Renaissance (23-2), which was seeking its first title since capturing the Class B championship in 2005, came out of halftime fired up and used an 8-0 run to trim the lead to just five points.

“We went back to our identity in the third quarter,” said Renaissance junior guard Christian Sanders, who led her team with 17 points. “Had we done that sooner, it may have been a different story.”

The key point of the game occurred right after the Phoenix made their run, and Wilson called a timeout to calm his team down.

Rockford responded with a 9-0 run of its own – using a pair of two-point baskets by Lyons, a bucket by Anna Wypych and a key 3-pointer off the bench from senior Madee Whitford – to push the lead back to 14 points.

The Phoenix, a young team with only three seniors, were never able to threaten the rest of the game.

“You have to give Rockford credit,” said first-year Renaissance coach Dashaun Wood. “They had a big fan base, and I think they fed off of that. We finally got back to who we normally are there in the third quarter, but sometimes when you dig a hole that deep, you burn all your energy just coming back.”

Amyah Espanol, one of two senior starters for the Phoenix, scored 13 points and junior Makayla Johnson added nine.

Rockford finished the game with 54 percent shooting (compared to 29.5 percent for Renaissance) and held a decisive 33-20 rebounding edge.

The Rams will make the one-hour drive home, which is just north of Grand Rapids, and Wilson said he and his assistant coaches will likely stay up all night preparing for West Bloomfield.

“No sleep ’til Breslin, that’s a real thing,” Wilson said with a grin. “We just need to stick to our brand of basketball. West Bloomfield is very good, but we’re really good, too, and I think we’re going to come out and show that we belong to be there.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Sienna Wolfe (33) brings the ball upcourt during Friday’s Semifinal win over Renaissance. (Middle) Anna Wypych (2) makes a move toward the basket around a pick from teammate Grace Lyons.

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.