Thompson Erases Doubt, Makes History

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

February 14, 2017

When Jacara Thompson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee this past summer, she thought she was done playing basketball.

The fact it was the second torn ACL of her high school career, along with the timing of the injury, had the Swartz Creek superstar doubting her future.

“I thought I wasn’t going to play basketball anymore,” Thompson said. “This is my second knee blowout and I need to be done – that was my first thought. I was going to miss my whole senior year, and that was really hard.”

Thompson proved her initial thoughts wrong, however, and is back on the court making history. Recently, she broke a school record that had stood since 1979, setting the all-time mark for scoring at Swartz Creek. She had scored 1,179 career points through Feb. 10, now well ahead of the former mark of 1,087.

“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Thompson said of setting the record. “Nobody in my family has ever broken a big record like that or anything. It really didn’t hit me until people started telling me congratulations.”

Those congratulations would have been well deserved for any player hitting that mark. For those who have watched Thompson overcome two major knee surgeries and break the record despite missing 17 games, the moment was even more special.

“I was extremely proud,” Swartz Creek girls basketball coach Adrian Trzebiatowski said. “As a player, you have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone that achieves that goal. As a coach, to see a young woman grow up, to blossom, to develop into a very good basketball player and an amazing person, it is an extreme sense of pride and admiration for what she’s gone through.”

It was in Trzebiatowski’s second season at Swartz Creek that Thompson entered high school, and the slashing guard was making an impact on the varsity team as a freshman. But her debut lasted only six games as Thompson’s first torn ACL, in her right knee, came early in her career.

She came back with a strong sophomore campaign, and as a junior joined the state’s elite, averaging 25 points per game and totaling 501. She was named Class A all-state second-team by The Associated Press.

“Early in her career she was a slasher – she could take a bump or two or three and still get to the basket,” Trzebiatowski said. “Last year we really committed to lifting weights, and she could finish with contact. She was able to get herself to the line and finish layups. I wish there was a stat column for how many and-ones she has. She was a strong player who could really plow and weave her way to the basket.”

Thompson also was developing a stronger mid-range game and working on her outside shot to keep defenders even more off-balance. Before she could showcase her advancing skills and build on the momentum of her junior season, she suffered her second ACL tear.

While an initial doubt she could return again was in her own mind, it was something her coach never saw.

“She knew how to rehab, and knew what she had to do to get back,” Trzebiatowski said. “As far as mental toughness, Jacara overcoming this is probably one of the toughest athletes I’ll ever coach.”

As Thompson worked her way back again, she said it was her Swartz Creek teammates who helped her get to the right place mentally.

“I finally got over it when I started to practice with my team,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t scrimmage with them, but they made me feel even better, that you’re going to be even stronger when you come back.”

Trzebiatowski said the team had to learn to play without Thompson over the summer, but despite that, Thompson’s impact on the young Dragons squad remained strong.

“Everybody looked at her as a leader, but I don’t think she’s always felt that way until this year,” Trzebiatowski said. “When we actually voted for team captains, the team decided before we even voted that Jacara would unanimously receive the vote for team captain. That’s never happened to me.”

Thompson missed the first two games of the season, but has come back strong. She’s averaging 17 points per game and has now added a more dangerous 3-point shot to her repertoire, something she said already has caused opposing defenders to take notice.

“I kind of always knew I had to get better at it,” she said. “Shooting wasn’t really my big thing. I always loved driving and getting to the basket and to the free throw line, but I knew I had to add an outside game. I feel like (defenders) look for me to go the basket every time, but now that I have an outside shot, they’re going to have to check me. They’ve caught on. They call me a shooter now.”

She said she feels like her old self now, although it took a while to get there.

“I’d say probably about 90 percent of it is mental, really,” Thompson said. “Because you have to think about what move am I going to do? Am I going to tear my ACL again? You think about every move you do when you’ve been through two ACL surgeries.”

Thompson is undecided on her basketball future, but said she wants to play at the college level. Her injuries have helped her to focus on her off-court future, however. No matter where basketball takes her, Thompson wants to study to become a physical therapist.

“I had always thought about going overseas and even trying to make it to the WNBA,” she said. “I don’t think I want that anymore. I want to do something to help people with ACL injuries.”

Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Swartz Creek's Jacara Thompson prepares to shoot a free throw. (Middle) Thompson, back this season after multiple knee surgeries during her career, looks to get past a defender. (Photos courtesy of the Swartz Creek girls basketball program.)

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.