Sophomores Shine in 'Slugfest' as Frankenmuth Reaches 1st Final Since 1996

By Tom Kendra
Special for

March 17, 2023

EAST LANSING – Frankenmuth scored only 37 points Friday, but it was enough to win a defensive slugfest.

And, at least for coach Joe Jacobs, it was a thing of beauty.

“The game was exactly what we wanted,” said Jacobs after his team held on for a 37-30 win over Goodrich in Friday’s first Division 2 Semifinal at the Breslin Center.

“We wanted a slugfest. We’re a very good defensive team, and our emphasis tonight was always knowing where their shooters were.”

Frankenmuth sophomore guard Clare Conzelmann was the star on both ends of the court, using her length to get into the passing lanes and disrupt the Goodrich shooters, then converting two traditional three-point plays during the final 3:27 en route to a game-high 15 points.

Conzelmann’s stellar play helped the Eagles soar into the Finals for the first time since 1996. Frankenmuth, 25-2 and champion of the Tri-Valley Conference 8, advanced to Saturday’s 6:15 p.m. championship game against the Grand Rapids West Catholic vs. Lansing Catholic winner.

Conzelmann said she benefitted from Goodrich focusing its defense on shutting down junior guard Mia McLaughlin (Ferris State commit) and 6-foot-1 senior Lexi Boyke (Central Michigan signee).

Goodrich's Kalen Williams (3) and Alexis Kosmowski (11) and Frankenmuth's Lexi Boyke (33) and Izzy Bernthal (4) work for position as they await a rebound. 

“A lot of their focus was on Mia and Lexi,” said Conzelmann, one of three sophomore starters for Frankenmuth. “They wanted to try and make other players score. Today, my shots went in, which was great. Sometimes they don’t.”

Frankenmuth led 6-4 after the first quarter, then scored five quick points to open the second quarter on a bucket by Boyke and a 3-pointer by McLaughlin.

But the story of the first half, and the whole game for that matter, was the Eagles’ stifling 2-3 matchup zone defense.

Goodrich (24-4), which is one of the state’s best 3-point shooting teams and scored 60 or more points in three of its first five tournament games, went a stretch of 8 minutes and 5 seconds in the first half without scoring a point. The Martians, who shot 26 percent from the floor for the game and just 4-of-13 from behind the arc, had a similar scoreless stretch of 5 minutes and 35 seconds to open the fourth quarter.

Goodrich coach Jason Gray, in his 24th year, said Frankenmuth’s defense was the best they faced all season.

“Their guards are long and they were getting their hands out and throwing us off,” said Gray, who led the Martians to back-to-back Class B titles in 2012 and 2013.

“We weren’t able to get inside and kick it out, like we like to do. We hung around, but we were never able to take the lead, which might have changed things.”

Goodrich junior Alexis Kosmowski certainly did her part, scoring a team-high 14 points as the Martians stayed within striking distance, trailing by just three points, 22-19, entering the fourth quarter.

That was when a pair of sophomores stepped up for Frankenmuth.

In addition to Conzelmann’s two traditional three-point plays, sophomore forward Izzy Bernthal added a crucial mid-range jumper and then an offensive rebound and putback in the final minute to seal the win. Bernthal finished with six points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Goodrich senior Riley Place, who entered the game with 77 3-pointers, was held to just one on Saturday and six points. Her younger sister, sophomore Ella Place, also scored six points.

The Semifinal win was especially sweet for Boyke, who missed all of last season after injuring her knee in the opening game. She contributed six points and five rebounds, and was happy to be playing instead of watching from the bench.

“It feels good to be on the court with my teammates,” said Boyke. “Yes, I am very thankful for the opportunity.”

Click for the full box score

PHOTOS (Top) Frankenmuth's Clare Conzelmann (2) brings the ball upcourt with Goodrich's Kayla Hairston (12) providing pressure. (Middle) Goodrich's Kalen Williams (3) and Alexis Kosmowski (11) and Frankenmuth's Lexi Boyke (33) and Izzy Bernthal (4) work for position as they await a rebound. 

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

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:

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.