St. John's Potent All-Around Game Includes Abilities To Direct, Dazzle

By Tim Robinson
Special for

February 25, 2022

HOWELL — Maeve St. John is, as an opposing coach described her, “the straw that stirs the drink” on the Howell girls basketball team.

And, at first glance, the evidence backs that assertion.

She is the team’s captain, leading scorer, one of its top rebounders, the school record-holder for assists and she also paces the Highlanders in charges taken, steals and blocked shots.

But, she said, her teammates keep her in line and focused, and that has made the difference in a Howell team that has beaten Division 1 powers Hartland and Wayne Memorial this season, with a possible rematch with Hartland in next week’s District tournament.

The difference?

“I accept criticism a lot better,” St. John says. “Last year, I was definitely more hard-headed. I feel I’m taking so much more advice from my teammates, and they hold me much more accountable. They can help me be better.”

What she’s been good at this season is helping her teammates be better, finding an open teammate, which in turn opens up more shots for herself.

Asked if she prefers scoring to feeding her teammates, St. John is quick with an answer.

“Assists are way better,” she said. “It's fun watching your teammates score, going in and getting a bucket and hitting shots. That’s exciting.”

St. John is averaging 15 points per game, with a robust 7.2 assists per contest and nearly three steals per as well.

“She’s better at harnessing her energy, and not feeling she has to be the one who does it all,” Howell coach Tim Olszewski said. “Maybe it’s an increased trust in her teammates, but she’s understanding that if she can draw an extra defender to her, then one of her teammates is open.”

St. John also occasionally makes a flashy move for no other reason than she can, sometimes looking over at the Howell bench with a smirk on her face.

“If you’re not trying to have fun out there, you’re not going to have fun,” she said. “I’m always looking to have fun out there. I’m always competing, trying new moves. Sometimes, they work. Sometimes they don’t, and I’m on the bench. Either way, it’s fun to try new things, to see what you’re capable of.”

That keeps opposing coaches, and her teammates, on alert, especially when St. John sees an opening and whips the ball to a teammate that may or may not be anticipating the pass.

“That happens a lot,” teammate Molly Duerloo said, chuckling. “But we capitalize on that. Her (on-court) vision has become better.”

Make no mistake about it: St. John has that rare combination of talent, curiosity, and joy one doesn’t often see in a top player.

“Boy, can she play this game,” Olszewski said. “She’s one of those special, special players. She just is. I don’t know how else to say it. She’s got the ability and the head about herself, and it’s going to be wonderful to watch her for four years at Northwood, because I think she’s going to excel there.”

Brighton coach Paul Ash, after watching her in a game in mid-February, also was impressed.

“I love watching that kid,” he said. “I’d pay money to watch that kid play. She’s a real, real competitor. She’s a fun kid to watch.”

St. John has little regret when it comes to sending up long-distance shots (she routinely launches 3-point tries from well beyond the arc), but also has no qualms about driving the lane or going after rebounds.

“She just plays at a high level,” Hartland coach Don Palmer said. “She’s exciting, she’s aggressive, and those kids just follow along,”

In addition to leading her team in most statistical categories, she also works closely with teammates in practice and even during games.

“She holds everyone accountable in practice,” Duerloo said. “She pushes everyone to be the best player they can be. She picks me up during a game if I’m not going good. She’ll say, ‘Hey you’ve got this. Next play. Believe in yourself.’”

The support, St. John said, goes both ways.

“They hold me accountable,” she said. “There are definitely some looks, some cussing out, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ That kind of thing. It’s a mutual respect. I think this group is something special. We’re all so close. We have all these inside jokes. Bus rides are fun. We feel so confident when we’re with each other.

“My teammates fuel me,” she added. “You look at someone going 110 percent, if you’re telling them to do something and you’re only going 80 percent, you’re not going to get any respect or anything done.”

St. John has signed with Northwood University, where she is considering majoring in personal finance or sports management.

“I love a lot of business-related things,” she said.

Right now, her increased understanding of her role as point guard and the possibilities it presents is a key reason why the Highlanders have won 14 of their last 15 games after a 1-3 start.

“She’s understanding the bigger picture,” Olszewski said. “There’s a reason why that particular shot or action, even though it might seem small or trite right now, how it could have a massive effect on the outcome of a game. And I think she’s excelled in that this year, understanding those situations.”

And, he said, St. John has been much more communicative with her teammates in helping them understand.

“Maeve’s always had an excellent basketball IQ and could always read situations,” Olszewski said. “When we talk about her being a leader, it’s about calming things down as opposed to throwing kerosene on the fire. I’ve also noticed an increase in her keeping herself accountable. Many times this year, she’s said, ‘That’s on me, team.’ She’s stepped to the forefront, which is what leaders do. She’s done a great job harnessing that energy and knowing when to unleash it and when to bring it back in a little bit.”

For St. John, it’s not so much being the straw that stirs the drink as being the leader of a pack of Highlanders willing to follow her for as long as possible.

But not without a little whimsy. Late in that mid-February game against Brighton, she drove the lane into a group of Bulldogs and somehow drew a foul on a shot that was off the mark. As she emerged, she looked at Olszewski and grinned.

“It was a forced shot, more like, ‘Oooh I got lucky on that play,’” she said. “I felt like I got bailed out on that play, and I looked at him and we chuckled.”

Howell had the game well in hand at that point. What if the game had been close?

“He wouldn't have been smiling,” St. John said, then added with a grin, “I probably would have still done it.”

PHOTOS Howell’s Maeve St. John has shown she can do it all – drive to the basket, shoot from the perimeter and find the open teammate. (Photos by Dan Zeppa.)

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.