St Mary Shows it 'Can Play with Anybody'

March 14, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

GAYLORD – Jim Myler played basketball at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

Still a fan of the Irish, his allegiance will be with another Catholic school tonight as Gaylord St. Mary takes on Sacred Heart in an MHSAA Class D girls basketball Quarterfinal. Myler’s daughters, Bekah and Emily, are key contributors on a 22-3 St. Mary team that beat Frankfort and Fairview last week to capture the Regional championship at Buckley.

“I’m all about my daughters, my family,” Myler said. “They mean the world.”

Bekah Myler, a senior center, averaged 16 points in leading St. Mary to its third Regional title in five years – surprising Frankfort along the way. The Panthers, led by Central Michigan-bound Mackenna Kelly, won the Regional the two previous years and advanced to the Semifinals a year ago.

The Snowbirds will be in an underdog role again Tuesday. Sacred Heart (22-1) beat St. Mary by 12 points in an early January nonleague contest.

“We’re going to go into that (Quarterfinal) game with the same mentality we had against Frankfort – that we can play with anybody,” Bekah Myler said. “We definitely have a fire burning in our hearts.”

Sophomore point guard Alex Hunter agreed.

“Frankfort was one of the best games we’ve played all year, hands down,” she said. “Everything clicked. We definitely have to bring it like that (Tuesday). We’ll have that underdog mentality. We feel we have something to prove. We know we can beat them. We just have to go out there and play hard.”

The Snowbirds breezed past Fairview 56-27 in the Regional Final. St. Mary held the Eagles without a field goal for more than nine minutes to open the game. However, it was the 54-41 win over Frankfort that drew attention, leading St. Mary coach Dan Smith to proclaim, “We’re back.”

It’s not that St. Mary had become a non-factor. The Snowbirds were 18-5 a year ago without a senior in the lineup. But District losses to Bellaire the last two years left an empty feeling. The Snowbirds made amends this season, topping Bellaire in the District Final.

“When I said ‘we’re back’ I meant we’re back deep into the tournament,” Smith said. “That’s where we want to be. That’s our goal every year – to compete for a Regional championship. It’s never easy, but we’ve got some kids that can play basketball.”

Young kids, too. The Snowbirds start two seniors, a junior and two sophomores. The two sophomores, guards Hunter and Averi Bebble, started on varsity as freshmen.

“We knew our sophomores had room to grow, but they’re talented kids,” Smith said. “They play a lot of basketball, probably 100 games a year (between high school and offseason teams). Their growing pains were felt last year. They came into this season in a much better position. Their confidence was at a B level at the start of the season. We’re closing in on the A level right now.”

Smith calls Hunter one of the best guards in northern Michigan.

“She’s very quick, plays outstanding on-the-ball defense and has a sweet shot,” he said. “We’re excited about our backcourt.”

Hunter and Bebble stood out in the Regional. It was their ability to handle Frankfort’s defensive pressure that limited the Panthers’ ability to create turnovers and transition scoring opportunities. The two then applied pressure of their own, attacking the basket on the offensive end.

“Bekah’s tough in the post and usually draws a double team, so that leaves cracks for Averi and Alex to penetrate,” Smith said. “They’re both quick, great ballhandlers, and they’ve got a good first step to the basket. If they see daylight, they’re going to get to the rim. If they get shut down, they’ll dish to Bekah.”

The versatile Myler, who has scored nearly 1,200 career points, is the top option offensively. She can score in the post or on the perimeter.

“She does a lot of good things for us,” Smith said. “She allows our guards to do what they do because she draws a lot of attention in the middle.”

St. Mary showed some depth in the Regional, too. Myler netted 14 points, junior Gabby Schultz 11 and Hunter and Bebble nine each in the win over Frankfort. Myler came back with 18 points, senior Giorgi Nowicki 10, freshman Olivea Jeffers nine and Bebble eight in the title game with Fairview. Sophomore Emily Myler pulled down a team-high nine rebounds while Hunter added five assists in the Regional finale.

The play of the underclassmen, especially the sophomores, has not shocked Bekah Myler, who played on the Snowbirds Quarterfinal team in 2013.

“Those girls have put in so much work during the offseason,” she said. “Basketball is a year-round sport for half of our team. I’m not surprised. They put in the work. They deserve a moment like this.”

The Snowbirds finished second in the Ski Valley Conference to Johannesburg-Lewiston (19-2). It was a close second as St. Mary dropped a pair of two-point games to the Cardinals.

“The fact we lost those two games (to Johannesburg-Lewiston) actually helped us keep our edge,” Smith said. “It was a gift in disguise. It gave us the energy to work towards the rest of the season and point to the tournament because that would be our time.”

That’s proven to be the case. Now, though, the stakes get higher with Sacred Heart looming.

“We’ll have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Smith said. “We’re going to bring everything we’ve got. They’re a great program. I have a lot of respect for (Sacred Heart coach) Damon Brown. He does an excellent job. But our team is far improved. We’re not the same team that we were earlier in the season when we faced them. We’re very excited about the opportunity.”

Bekah Myler will draw a tough defensive assignment, guarding 6-3 Averi Gamble, her AAU teammate during the offseason. Gamble scored 24 points, grabbed 24 rebounds and blocked four shots in Sacred Heart’s Regional championship win over Portland St. Patrick.

The Snowbirds would like to reverse a recent trend. St. Mary narrowly lost its last two Quarterfinal appearances – 42-40 to Climax-Scotts in 2013 and 59-57 to Crystal Falls Forest Park in 2012.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us to be here right now,” Bebble said. “But we want to break through (that barrier) and get to the Breslin.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Gaylord St. Mary celebrates its Regional Final win last week. (Middle) Alex Hunter sets up the offense for the Snowbirds against Frankfort during the Regional Semifinal. (Top photo by Denny Chase; middle photo courtesy of Gaylord St. Mary athletic department.)

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.