Shutdown Defense Lands Portland in 1st Final

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

April 7, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS – Defense has been a staple of the Portland girls basketball team all season. 

The Raiders displayed that defensive prowess when it mattered most and are on their way to their first Finals appearance after a 45-38 win over Parma Western in Wednesday’s second Division 2 Semifinal at Van Andel Arena.

Portland held the Panthers scoreless the final 4½ minutes to punch its ticket to Friday’s championship game against Newaygo.

“It’s been like that all year for us,” Raiders coach Jason Haid said. “We spend an awful lot of time on defense, and that’s been key for us all year. We felt like they were getting in the paint too much in the first half, so we really focused on closing the gaps and taking away the paint and getting those tough rebounds.”

Parma Western’s Alyssa Gennety scored on a lay-up with 4:29 remaining to put her team ahead 38-37.

Unfortunately for the Panthers (18-5), those were the last points they would muster.

“We tried to slow the game down a little bit, and then we missed some crucial layups and had to put them on the line,” Parma Western coach Gina Fortress said. “We just couldn’t dig out of that hole.”

Parma Western, which was led by Lilli Luma’s 15 points and nine rebounds, also was searching for its first MHSAA Finals appearance. 

“Our main goal and the focus for this season was to win a Regional championship, and we did that and then we won on Monday so every game we’ve gotten past we’ve been so thankful for,” Fortress said. “And what an experience for these girls to come here and play in the Van Andel and have the experience we had today. We showed up to play, we gave them a good game and that was our plan all along.”

Portland/Parma Western Division 2 Semifinal 2Portland junior guard Ava Guilford made perhaps the biggest shot of the game. Her 3-pointer with 2 minutes left gave the Raiders a lead they would never relinquish.

“I just wanted to help my team any way I could, and my 3-pointer was looking good,” said Guilford, who made four from long range and finished with 12 points.

Portland, which led 25-21 at the half, last made an appearance in the Semifinals 11 years ago. 

That made the journey to get back even more satisfying.

“This was a history-making game,” Haid said. “No other Portland team has done that, and this is a very proud program. There’s been a lot of good teams that have come through Portland.

“It’s been a goal of ours to get here, and they’ve been dreaming about this for a long time. I’m just proud of the way they battled all game, and I’m just really happy for them.”

Junior Ashley Bower paced Portland (19-2) with 17 points, including making 7 of 9 from the free throw line.

“We’ve always dreamed about going to the Breslin, and to play for a state championship is just really exciting,” Bower said. “I’m proud of the way we played.”

Added senior point guard Ava Gruber, who had a team-high six assists: “It means a lot. All of us have played together since we were in third grade, and we’ve looked forward to this. All of our hard work is finally paying off.”

Friday’s Division 2 Final will be a rare rematch.

Portland handed Newaygo its only loss of the season, 38-33.  

“They are just like us,” Haid said. “They play hard-nosed physical man-to-man defense and mix in a little zone. They have great guard play and they are a hungry team, as are we. It’s a great match-up with two smaller schools going at it again, and we will be up for the challenge.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Portland defenders swarm a driving Parma Western player Wednesday at Van Andel Arena. (Middle) The Raiders' Ashley Bower (10) and Western's Riley Kubiak battle for a loose ball. (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.