GRASS LAKE – What will Lexus Bargesser do for an encore?
The Grass Lake senior had an unbelievable junior year, leading the Warriors to their first-ever MHSAA Finals basketball championship, in Division 3, then winning three events to pace Grass Lake’s team title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 track & field championship meet. She spent her summer on the basketball circuit, traveling the country to compete against top competition.
As she embarks on her senior year of high school, Bargesser is looking forward to having fun, working hard – and bringing home more hardware.
“It was pretty amazing,” she said this summer. “Everything came together and worked out.”
The Bargesser family certainly could have been called the first family of Grass Lake sports over the last few years – in the least for track & field – and Lexus is likely to add a few more highlights during 2021-22. She won’t play a sport for Grass Lake this fall as she’s prepping for basketball season and a hopeful encore to last winter’s achievement. But next month she will begin making college visits and could make a decision before the 2021-22 basketball season begins.
“I don’t really have a timeline,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the season and helping the younger girls on the team grow. I’m excited for it.”
Grass Lake’s Bargesser surge began with 2020 grad Xavier, who’s currently playing basketball at Alma College.
Second-oldest Brennen Bargesser made a splash last school year as a senior both on the basketball court and track, during the spring winning three individual events and running on a first-place relay to lead the boys team to a Finals title as well.
“My older brother and my younger sister are insane athletes,” Brennen said. “I’m the middle child and just wanted to make a name for myself.”
Lexus Bargesser had won the 100 and 200 dashes as a freshman at the 2019 Finals, then burst onto the national prep basketball scene with an amazing summer that saw colleges from across the country start offering her scholarships.
Their parents also are part of the mix. Father David Bargesser coached the Warriors boys basketball team last season and was an assistant to the girls team. Mother Lori Bargesser was the scorekeeper for the boys team.
Sports is the common bond that links the entire family.
“We’re a really close family,” Lori said. “We’ve always just played sports. That’s what we did. We were in the yard from the time I can remember.”
David, who played basketball and golfed in college, and Lori are from upstate New York. They originally moved to Belleville, then landed in Jackson when he accepted a job at the Michigan Department of Corrections. The family has lived in Grass Lake for about 25 years.
“When I got off work, we’d go outside and play basketball or throw the football,” he said. “From the time I can remember, we were always outside playing something.”
Lori said the organized sports started through a local YMCA.
“Xavier was probably 3 or 4 years old,” she said. “David helped coach. Ever since they started, they were always in at least two sports. It was hectic at times, with practice schedules and everything. It was weird when one of them could drive because they could take themselves to practice.”
Xavier, being the oldest, was the first to play organized sports. Brennen soon followed.
“Basketball is very important in my family,” Brennen said.
“As soon as they could walk, they had a basketball in their hands,” Lori said.
Lexus showed her basketball talent and poise from a young age.
“Basketball was the thing that took off for her,” her father said. “I remember realizing how fast she was on the basketball court. I didn’t realize how fast she was.”
One of the first colleges to offer was UCLA.
“Once one started offering, they all took notice,” David said. “It was a fun two weeks where everyone started calling. She’s would get 4-5 calls in an hour and a half.”
The Bargessers might have had the best day for any one family in state track & field history. Along with both Grass Lake teams winning championships, Brennen won the 100 with a time of 11 seconds, the 200 in 22.6 and the 400 in 49.10. He also anchored the 400 relay that came in first with a time of 44.43.
Lexus repeated as LPD3 champ in both the 100 with a time of 12.12 and the 200 in 25.30. (She had won both in 2019, and the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.) She set an LP Division 3 meet record with a time of 55.54 in the 400, then helped the 400 relay place second with a time of 4:11.54.
Between the two siblings were seven first places, one runner-up finish and two team championships.
“When Brennen won that first race, I was so happy for him,” Lori said. “He had worked so hard. Lexus had won before, but he never had. That was a great moment.”
The seeds of those championships were formed during the spring of 2020 when in place of their season Brennen and Lexus trained together almost every day.
“It’s insane to think (about) what we were able to accomplish,” Brennen said. “She’d run the 100 and win it, then I’d run the 100 and win it. I got so excited for her, then I had to run my race. In the conference meet I jumped (early) and was disqualified. I was nervous at the state meet that I would do that again.”
Lexus and Brennen have always been close. Training together brought them closer.
“We spent all summer running together,” Brennen said. “She was my pacer. She was helping me get my times in.”
Their dad was confident that both could accomplish what they set out to do at this spring’s Finals because he had watched their times closely all summer.
“Going into the year, I was checking times and seeing what other kids were doing,” David said. “I knew both had a chance to do it in all three events. It was definitely the goal. It helped them by training together. Brennen really was into lifting, and I think that helped Lexi get into it. The two of them were always training together, pushing each other.”
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 [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) The Bargesser family celebrated a championship-loaded Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals; pictured from left: father David, Brennan, Xavier, Lexus and mother Lori. (Middle) Lexus Bargesser (1) gets a hand up on defense during Grass Lake’s 52-50 win over Kent City in April’s Division 3 Final. She finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. (Below) Brennen Bargesser crosses the line first in the 100 at the Finals in June. (Top photo courtesy of the Bargesser family; Brennen Bargesser photo by Jason Ruggles.)
Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.
The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.
The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.
Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.
Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.
Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:
Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).
Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.
Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.
Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.
Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.
Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.
Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.
Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.
Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.
Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.
Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).
Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.
Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.
Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.
PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.