Schmitz Makes Most of Many Opportunities

January 12, 2018

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

MORENCI – When Madysen Schmitz was a freshman in high school, she told Morenci athletic director Kay Johnson she was going to earn 16 varsity letters with the Bulldogs.

Schmitz was wrong. If all goes as planned, she’ll earn 18.

“I’m used to being involved,” Schmitz said.

Her to-do calendar leaves little time for anything else.

A senior, Schmitz has never played a sport at the junior varsity level. She already has completed four years of varsity volleyball and this past fall was part of Morenci’s club equestrian team. This winter, she is not only one of the top scorers in Lenawee County in basketball, she’s a member of the competitive cheerleading team. Later this year she plans to be a dual-sport athlete for the fourth straight spring, playing softball and competing as part of the Bulldogs track & field squad. She also has been a sideline cheerleader for Morenci.

“Mady is naturally talented,” Johnson said. “She is fast and jumps so well. She’s been doing all of the cheer moves for some time now. She’s just very athletic.”

Morenci allows athletes to compete in multiple sports during one season as long as they abide by the guidelines set forth by the district. One of those rules is to pick a predominate sport that takes precedent in any season. Last spring, for example, it was track & field instead of softball. Schmitz qualified for the MHSAA Finals in the long jump. After the event was over, she drove back to southeast Michigan to play in a Division 4 District Final for the softball team.

“My coaches work with me and around my schedule,” Schmitz said. “If they know I have basketball practice after school, we’ll have cheer practice in the morning. Or, if there is a game one night, we won’t have practice in another sport that day. They work with me.”

Johnson, who is also the Morenci softball coach, said the district supports dual-sport athletes.

“We allow it, but not many athletes do it,” Johnson said. “It’s tough to compete in multiple sports at the same time. With our enrollment (just more than 100 girls at last count), if we have an athlete that wants to do two sports, we’ll let them.”

Schmitz helped Morenci’s softball team into the MHSAA Semifinals as a sophomore. She’s an outfielder who covers a lot of ground because of her speed.

Success is nothing new to Schmitz, who moved from Evergreen Schools in Ohio to Morenci before her freshman year. She’s leaving quite a legacy on the ultra-successful Morenci athletic program. She’s received numerous honors from the Tri-County Conference, was second team all-county in basketball last season and enters Friday’s home game against co-TCC basketball leader Ottawa Lake Whiteford with 987 career points. The only other Morenci girl to reach 1,000 career points is Kylene Spiegel, now in her first season as head women’s basketball coach at Lawrence Tech.

The Bulldogs have won 13 games each of the past two seasons and are off to a 7-2 start heading into the game with Whiteford. Larry Bruce is in his fourth year as the head varsity girls basketball coach after a long and successful run as the Bulldogs boys coach in the 1970s and 1980s. Bruce had a heart attack in July and, while still going through regular rehabilitation exercises, is back on the bench.

“I had four bypasses in August,” he said. “I’m good now. I work out a couple days a week. I feel normal.”

His return to the basketball court, he said, was never in doubt.

“Some other people may have doubted it, but I didn’t,” the veteran coach said.

The Bulldogs won four straight TCC basketball titles from 1985 to 1988 and four more from 2001-2004, but none since. They are trying to end Adrian Madison’s six-year reign at the top of the league. Whiteford and Morenci are both 5-0 in league play entering tonight.

“He’s awesome,” Schmitz said of Bruce. “He helps us a lot. We have really good team chemistry this year. We are all happy he is back.”

This season, Schmitz was sluggish to start the season while shaking off some effects of an ankle injury suffered in volleyball. But, after scoring 34 points against Clinton, 28 against Reading and 23 against Pittsford, her game appears to be back on track.

“She’s a durable kid,” Bruce said. “She’s jumps so high and is so fast. It’s kind of scary when she goes up in traffic to get a rebound. She’s always flying down the floor. She goes all out. That’s the only way she knows. She’s been that way since she was a freshman.”

Bruce recalls the time Schmitz was injured and did have to miss a couple of games.

“She’s left-handed,” he said. “She had her left arm in a sling, but was in the gym at night, shooting with her right hand. That is when she was a freshman. She wanted to get better shooting with her right hand. She’s worked pretty hard at the game.”

Schmitz isn’t the only high scorer on the Bulldogs’ roster. Junior Daelyn Merillat has more than 800 career points.

Bruce supports Schmitz’s choice to play multiple sports.

“It really hasn’t been an issue,” he said. “There was one night where she missed a practice because she had a cheerleading event. It wasn’t a big deal. The coaches work with her.”

In addition to her athletic ability, she also gets it done in the classroom. Schmitz is a National Honor Society student with a cumulative 3.49 grade-point average.

"There are definitely some late nights just trying to keep up with it all," Schmitz said. "You just have to manage your time and stay on top of everything. I'm used to it though. I've been this way my whole life. It's all worth it. I love sports.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at with story ideas for Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTO: (Top) Morenci’s Madysen Schmitz looks for an opportunity on offense against Pittsford on Jan. 3. (Middle) Schmitz goes hard to the basket during the 68-56 loss, one of only two defeats this season for the Bulldogs. (Photos by Mike Dickie.)

Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner

March 24, 2023

Regan FinkbeinerRegan Finkbeiner ♦ Hemlock
Senior ♦ Basketball

The 5-foot-6 guard capped her high school career at Breslin Center over the weekend with team highs of 24 points and four steals in Thursday’s 57-26 Division 3 Semifinal win over Hart and the team-leading 19 points and four assists in the 59-43 win over Blissfield on Saturday that clinched the Huskies their first MHSAA Finals championship in girls basketball.

Finkbeiner played all but four minutes of 64 total over the two games, and she made a combined 15 of her 27 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 free throw attempts, plus four 3-pointers in the Final. She had entered the season’s final week averaging 17.1 points, 3.5 assists and 4.8 steals per game and in February became the program’s all-time leading scorer breaking the previous record of 1,302. A standout in multiple sports, she’s committed to continue playing softball after high school at Madonna University. Her basketball team finished 26-3 this winter.

@mhsaasports 🏀POW: Regan Finkbeiner #performanceoftheweek #basketball #champion #congrats #huskies #hemlock #letsgo #moana #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok#mistudentaid #fyp ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.

MI Student Aid's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

2022-23 Honorees

March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9:
Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner drives to the basket during her team's Semifinal win over Hart. (Photos courtesy of the Hemlock girls basketball program.)