Southfield Leads Fast, Holds On to Lead Last

March 22, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – Give Muskegon a ton of credit. After 11 minutes Thursday, it’s Division 1 Semifinal at Van Noord Arena was all but over.

And Southfield Arts & Technology knew the feeling.

Two years ago, the Warriors found themselves down 20 points in the third quarter of their Semifinal against East Kentwood. They pulled all the way back to within two of the lead before ultimately losing to the Falcons by four.

This time, Southfield A&T got up 18 points three minutes into the second quarter at Van Noord Arena. But while Muskegon charged back to within two of the lead with 53 seconds to play, the Warriors prevailed 54-50 to earn their first championship game berth.

“Being (at the Semifinals) before, it helped me keep my composure and mentally stay in it. Because two years ago, we were down by a lot at the half, and we had to come back with the same fight that Muskegon tried to put against us,” A&T junior guard Cheyenne McEvans said. “I understand what Muskegon was trying to do, and how East Kentwood held us off is how we had to hold them off from coming back.

“We hung on at the end because we just wanted it, and we all just had to talk to each other and keep each other in the game. I try to take really good pride in keeping my teammates involved mentally, and keep their heads up. So I just told them, the run that they’re going on, we’ve just got to hold it – hold it together to the end of the game.”

The Warriors (24-1) will face Saginaw Heritage in Saturday’s 12:15 p.m. championship game, seeking the first title for the 3-year-old school and also the first for one of the schools that merged to create A&T since Southfield Lathrup’s 2005 Class A win.

Neither team Thursday scored for nearly the first three minutes. But once the Warriors got started, they put up nine straight points over 80 seconds. During the second quarter, they connected on 64 percent of their shots from the floor to carry a 29-13 lead into halftime.

But the Big Reds – making their first Semifinal appearance – began to show signs of revival. They had missed their first 13 shots and 18 of 19 on the way to the 21-3 deficit. But beginning with senior Alyza Winston’s basket with 4:30 to play in the first half, Muskegon made 44 percent of its shots from the floor the rest of the way.

“We’re really a second-half team, if you look at the Regional games, the District games, we came out second half with a whole different energy,” Winston said. “That’s really just us.

“I feel like this game we just needed it more in the first half than we had it, but that’s normal for us.”

A&T still led 44-31 with a quarter to play. Muskegon junior guard De’shonna Day’s basket with seven minutes to play made the deficit single digits again at 44-35. That started a 17-8 run, and a Day 3-pointer pulled the Big Reds to within 52-50 with 53 seconds to play.

Muskegon (21-5) got the ball back on a jumpball. But A&T did hold on – two more times. First junior center Jasmine Worthy blocked off the lane to force a travel as the Big Reds looked to tie. After senior Soleil Barnes made two free throws with six seconds left to push the lead back to four, the Warriors got a steal to end the game.

“Having been to the final four, and won a championship before, I know defense is really going to make a difference,” said A&T coach Michele Marshall, who led the Lathrup title run. “You can score a ton of points, but ultimately you’re going to have to get some stops.

“When we play defense the way we did in that last possession, it becomes very difficult to get easy shots, and all we’re trying to do is make the most difficult shot with our defense.”

Senior forward Alexis Johnson led A&T with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while McEvans and Barnes both finished with 12 points. Sophomore guard Kayiona Willis had five assists.

Winston, a Miss Basketball Award finalist this season, finished with 25 points, and Day had 13 and seven rebounds. Senior center Nia Miskel grabbed 10 rebounds.

Now A&T gets the rare opportunity to avenge its lone defeat. The Warriors fell to Heritage 45-43 on Dec. 8 at the Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Icebreaker Invitational.

“I feel like this is the game we can use to cross out our record, if we can get this win,” Johnson said. “We want to come out with a clean record and we feel we’re number one in the state, and this game will prove it.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Southfield Arts & Technology’s Alexis Johnson pushes the ball upcourt during Friday’s Division 1 Semifinal win over Muskegon. (Middle) The Big Reds’ De’shonna Day moves the ball around the perimeter.

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.