Title IX at 50: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

January 25, 2022

Michigan has contributed mightily to the growth of girls basketball across the nation over the last 50 years. At its height during the first few seasons of this century, nearly 21,000 athletes played for MHSAA member schools. And those schools have produced their share of legends who have gone on to also succeed at the higher levels of the game.

Four decades after starting high school as a student, Tonya Edwards remains one of the most accomplished standouts to travel that path.

The 1986 Flint Northwestern graduate completed her varsity playing career in Fall 1985 (when girls basketball was still played during the fall) with the MHSAA record of 2,307 career points (22.2 ppg) that stood until 1994 and remains 10th on that record book list.

She averaged 26.4 points per game as a senior, and her 104 games played remain tied for 10th-most by a girls basketball player in this state. Edwards helped her team to 99 wins, which remains tied for fifth-most and stood as the MHSAA girls hoops record until 1997. She led Northwestern to Class A championships as a sophomore and junior and a runner-up finish as a senior.

And that was just first chapter.

Edwards went on to play at national powerhouse Tennessee, helping the Volunteers win NCAA championships in 1987 and 1989 under coach Pat Summit. Edwards came home after graduating in 1990, and that fall began a five-year run as Northwestern’s girls varsity coach. She led the 1993 team to the Class A championship and a 28-0 record – becoming the first person to win an MHSAA Finals girls basketball championship as both a player and coach.

Meanwhile, her playing talents were leading to international opportunities with USA Basketball and professional leagues overseas. She returned to play in the U.S. in 1996 and won two championships with the Columbus Quest of the former American Basketball League, then was the No. 7 pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx, one of three WNBA franchises for which she played over five seasons.

Edwards went on to coach briefly in the National Women’s Basketball League, then as an assistant at the college level before serving as head coach of Alcorn State from 2008-09 through 2014-15. She then served as an assistant for the L.A. Sparks from 2016-18, helping that team to the WNBA championship her first season.

But on top of all of those achievements, a unique and incredibly cool twist was yet to come.

In March 2020, COVID-19 ended the MHSAA girls and boys basketball seasons before champions could be crowned. But as Michigan’s high school teams returned to the floor under various precautions the following winter, Edwards returned to Flint’s high school courts as the varsity coach at Flint Carman-Ainsworth.

What’s more, she’s also continuing to coach in the WNBA, which begins regular-season play in May. Three months after serving as an assistant and helping Candace Parker and the Chicago Sky to the WNBA title, Edwards has Carman-Ainsworth 6-3 and among the top teams in the Saginaw Valley League.

Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: 
Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read

(MHSAA file photo.)

Performance of the Week: Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner

March 24, 2023

Regan FinkbeinerRegan Finkbeiner ♦ Hemlock
Senior ♦ Basketball

The 5-foot-6 guard capped her high school career at Breslin Center over the weekend with team highs of 24 points and four steals in Thursday’s 57-26 Division 3 Semifinal win over Hart and the team-leading 19 points and four assists in the 59-43 win over Blissfield on Saturday that clinched the Huskies their first MHSAA Finals championship in girls basketball.

Finkbeiner played all but four minutes of 64 total over the two games, and she made a combined 15 of her 27 shots from the floor and 9 of 10 free throw attempts, plus four 3-pointers in the Final. She had entered the season’s final week averaging 17.1 points, 3.5 assists and 4.8 steals per game and in February became the program’s all-time leading scorer breaking the previous record of 1,302. A standout in multiple sports, she’s committed to continue playing softball after high school at Madonna University. Her basketball team finished 26-3 this winter.

@mhsaasports 🏀POW: Regan Finkbeiner #performanceoftheweek #basketball #champion #congrats #huskies #hemlock #letsgo #moana #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok#mistudentaid #fyp ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat

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2022-23 Honorees

March 16: Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9:
Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner drives to the basket during her team's Semifinal win over Hart. (Photos courtesy of the Hemlock girls basketball program.)