St Francis Stands Tall in Run to 1st Final

March 17, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Regardless of the winner, a team from Thursday’s first Class C Semifinal was going to finish this weekend playing in an MHSAA championship game for the first time. 

And Traverse City St. Francis – especially 6-foot-4 junior Juliana Phillips – was able to reach a little higher for that opportunity during the opener at the Breslin Center.

The Gladiators will play on the season’s final day for the first time thanks to a 53-40 win over Niles Brandywine, which was making its first Semifinal appearance since 2010 and also was seeking its first title game berth.

Phillips stood six inches taller than anyone on Brandywine’s roster, and it showed in her 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots – as did her athleticism, which helped her to four steals and allowed her to alter a number of other shots she didn’t reach.

“Both of our teams were struggling a little bit from the outside, so we just played into our strengths,” Phillips said. “They didn’t have a lot of height on their team, so we tried to play a little high-low and in-and-out, and it just started going for us.”

A lot has gone well this season for the No. 3 Gladiators (26-1), who have won 24 straight and will next face top-ranked Ypsilanti Arbor Prep at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Phillips has been St. Francis’ second-leading scorer at 12 points per game, but took on more of the offense Thursday as leading scorer Annie Lyman played through an illness and only a week after spraining both ankles, one each in successive games.

Despite struggles shooting from outside, Lyman still finished with seven points and six rebounds. Phillips scored her first points two minutes into the game and put up nine during the first half as the Gladiators took a 22-18 lead into the break. She made 7 of 12 attempts for the game.

Phillips’ impact was equally significant on the defensive end. Brandywine made only 32 percent of its shots during the first half and 26 percent for the game – partly because the Bobcats didn’t convert as usual on 3-point shots, but also because Phillips made for an obstacle if they tried to get to the basket.

“She’s obviously a tremendous shot-blocker, and after you get a couple (blocks) that does get into your mind,” St. Francis coach Keith Haske said. “I’m guessing they haven’t seen a 6-4 girl that’s athletic like she is, all year, so it’s tough. And she does such a great job of blocking without fouling; that’s just a great gift that she has. 

Brandywine this season made 212 3-pointers – third-most in one season in MHSAA history. But they connected on only 3 of 21 tries in the Semifinal, and even three or four more makes could’ve shifted the game dramatically.

Senior forward Makenna Hartline did make eight of her 17 shots from the floor to lead Brandywine (24-3) with 17 points, and she also grabbed eight rebounds. Senior guard Emily Erwin added 11 points.

“We knew we’d have to shoot the 3 today. When (they) have a 6-4 and 6-1 post player with that kind of size, and with our size, you have to be able to knock them down from the perimeter,” Brandywine coach Josh Hood said. “I think the effort was there. We had more offensive rebounds, more shot attempts; we did a lot of little things we had to do to win the game. (But) we need to shoot the basketball better. We were right there going into the fourth; it just didn’t work out.”

Sophomore Sarah Chouinard added 13 points and seven rebounds for St. Francis, and 6-1 senior center Lauren McDonnell had 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Gladiators led by six heading into the final period before breaking away on a final 16-9 run.

Haske has won 643 games and brought seven teams to Breslin over 32 seasons as a coach, and his Charlevoix girls finished Class C runner-up in 2004 and were one of five teams he’s taken to an MHSAA championship game.

Already the St. Francis boys coach, Haske added the girls varsity this winter and had a feeling early on he might be with them for a long run.

“This kinda fits our year. We won a state championship in cross country, the boys were semifinalists in football, and if you look at our sports right now we’ve got great athletes,” Haske said. “I told the kids at the first assembly this year that this was the year of St. Francis, just because of the collection of people we have. And I think this just goes to that. For whatever reason, this seems to be our year.

“We put a banner up in the gym if you make it to a state final game, so they were excited about that. They’ll live up on our ceiling of our gym forever, which is pretty cool.”

Brandywine will graduate a memorable seven-player senior class that has been part of a 91-7 run over the last four seasons.  

“That says enough, 91 wins. Pretty special,” Hood said. “We’ve been (here) seven years, and I think we’re at 162 wins. So we have a lot of girls coming, but yeah, we lose a lot.

“When you look at our program, we’ve got a lot of kids that take pride in what we do. And we’ll be back.”

Click for the full box score.

The Girls Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System.

PHOTOS: (Top) St. Francis’ Juliana Phillips celebrates Thursday’s Class C Semifinal win. (Middle) Brandywine's Emily Erwin shoots a free throw; she finished with 11 points.

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.