Two Years After Losing Title Chance, Hemlock Ends 2022-23 with Biggest Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – As Regan Finkbeiner exited the court Saturday during the final seconds of Hemlock’s MHSAA Division 3 Final triumph, she was hit with a mix of emotions.

The senior guard let the happy one take over, screaming in celebration to the Huskies student section, which screamed back in acknowledgement.

“I didn’t know if I was crying happy tears or sad tears because I’m done with basketball after this,” Finkbeiner said. “I don’t really know how I was feeling. I was crying because I was happy, crying because I was sad. I was just proud. Just proud of our community that was all there. I’m just glad that I’m ending it on a win.”

Finkbeiner had a game-high 19 points to lead Hemlock to a 59-43 win against Blissfield. It was the first girls basketball title for the Huskies, who were making their first appearance in the Finals.

Huskies coach Scott Neumeyer holds up the championship trophy to his team and fans.“It’s kind of surreal,” Hemlock coach Scott Neumeyer said. “I’m just so proud of this team, especially the seniors. I was really happy for how they approached this whole tournament run. We had a brutal, brutal schedule to get here. I’m just happy for how they persevered and how they led this team.”

Prior to this season, Hemlock (26-3) had made just two trips to the Semifinals, the latest cut short before it could start due to COVID-19 after the team had advanced to championship weekend in 2021. 

This year’s team took nothing for granted, and Neumeyer praised the business-like approach.

“People offered to do pep assemblies for them, to get them charter buses and limos and all this stuff,” Neumeyer said. “And they were like, ‘Nope, we’re taking the yellow school bus and we’re going down to the Breslin. We’re taking our lunch pail, and we’re going to work.’ And that’s the way I like it.”

That was apparent in the Final against Blissfield, as – outside of foul trouble – the Huskies did the things that win big games. 

They forced 17 turnovers while committing just six. They were 22 of 25 from the free throw line, including 15 of 17 in the fourth quarter to salt the game away.

Much of that came from senior guard Chloe Watson, who hit 11 of her 13 free throw attempts in the game, on her way to 18 points.

Watson and Finkbeiner also were able to dribble away much of the fourth quarter as Blissfield was chasing a double-digit deficit.

“Chloe and Regan just played a great game of keep away,” Neumeyer said. “I’m going to record that and show my kids how to keep the ball away from people for about five minutes. They also knocked down free throws, and that’s no accident, because these guys work on free throws like crazy.”

Lauren Borsenik added 16 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies before fouling out early in the fourth quarter. She and her sister Hannah, who had four points and seven rebounds, gave the Huskies a balance that proved too much for Blissfield.

Watson dribbles away from pressure as Blissfield's Sarah Bettis (10) pursues.“Their competitiveness – they are warriors on the court, and they play with a little bit of an edge,” Neumeyer said of the Borsenik sisters, both juniors who joined Hemlock this season. “I thought today was a very physical game, and I’m not sure without them that we don’t lose that street fight, if you will, because it was a very physical game.”

The game was close through the first half, as Hemlock held a 25-20 lead at the break. But the Huskies stretched the lead to double digits in the third quarter, and kept Blissfield at arm’s length the rest of the way. 

“There was a lot of moments where I thought we were one play away to get back into the game,” Blissfield coach Ryan Gilbert said. “Just a big play away, then get a stop and a score. We were talking about that in the huddle. Then it just kind of slowly mounted. We ran out of gas.”

Julia White led Blissfield in her final game with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Avery Collins had 17 points to lead the Royals in scoring. 

Blissfield finished 28-2 and was making its first Finals appearance since 1973.

“I couldn’t have asked for a greater senior season,” Blissfield senior forward Sarah Bettis said. “We had kind of been building for this year forever, and people had been telling us that we were going to go far. We didn’t really make it our focus, we just took it one game at a time, but ultimately it led us here. I’m really grateful for this program. It’s meant everything to me since kindergarten. I remember just waiting for the day that I could finally play and put on the uniform. It’s still a little surreal; it doesn’t feel like it should be over.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Hemlock's Chloe Watson (11) sends up a jumper with Blissfield's June Miller defending Saturday at Breslin Center. (Middle) Huskies coach Scott Neumeyer holds up the championship trophy to his team and fans. (Below) Watson dribbles away from pressure as Blissfield's Sarah Bettis (10) pursues.

Jahfetson Makes History from 3-Point Range in Taking Baraga to 2023 Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 23, 2024

Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson graduated in 2023 as one of the most accomplished 3-point shooters in MHSAA history and coming off one of the most impressive single seasons from beyond the arc.

Her 103 3-pointers as a senior over 29 games were the second-most for one season and included eight in a Quarterfinal win over Mackinaw City – the second-most in an MHSAA Quarterfinal, Semifinal or Final.

She finished with 236 3-pointers over 96 games and four seasons, ranking 12th on that career list, and Baraga finished the season as Division 4 runner-up. She’s continuing her career at Northern Michigan.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA girls basketball record book, and click the heading to view the record book in full.

Girls Basketball

Alma junior Bailey Walkington earned her school’s first single-season individual record book entry for girls basketball in 2022-23. She made the steals list with 143 over 23 games.

Dalton DeBoer became the latest Midland Dow long-range shooting ace to make the records after she drained 70 of 206 3-point attempts over 24 games in 2022-23. DeBoer is a junior this school year.

Durand senior Jordyn Lawrence earned her school’s first girls basketball individual record book entry with 15 steals in her team’s 44-31 win over Flint Kearsley on Dec. 2, 2022. She’s continuing at Mid-Michigan College.

Leah French finished her Engadine career in 2023 with a series of game, season and career record book entries detailing her scoring and defensive skills. She earned single-game listings for 54 points and 19 free throws against St. Ignace on Feb. 6, 2023, and nine 3-pointers against Manistique that Jan. 9. She made the single-season list with 81 3-pointers, 177 free throws and 168 steals over 25 games as a senior. And she made the career lists with 171 3-pointers, 354 free throws and 405 steals over 85 games and four seasons. She’s continuing her career at Aquinas College.

Arieonna Ware earned Battle Creek Central's first girls basketball record book entry with 51 points in a Feb. 11, 2020, win over Portage Northern. She actually finished with a triple-double, adding 12 rebounds and 12 steals. Ware also was added for 47 points in a March 6, 2019, District game against Sturgis.

Mesick senior Kayla McCoy made the MHSAA record in 2022-23 as a junior, totaling 144 steals over 23 games. It was Mesick’s first individual entry in the girls basketball record book.

Coldwater’s Carlee Crabtree made a career-high 52 3-pointers during her senior season of 2019-20 on the way to making the MHSAA career list for long-distance shots with 163, in 469 attempts, over four seasons and 88 games total. She went on to play at Central Michigan and Hope College.

Battle Creek Pennfield’s Kaylee Glidden capped her three-year varsity career in 2023 among the most accurate free-throw shooters in MHSAA history – and also among top 3-point aces. She made 90.6 percent of her free-throw attempts as a senior, good for fifth-highest percentage all-time for one season, and her 84.4-percent success rate ranks fourth on the career list. She also made the single-season 3-pointers list with 67 that winter and the career list with 168. She continued at Kellogg Community College and has committed to Great Lakes Christian College.

Larissa Huffman made a pair of career lists upon completing her four-year varsity career in 2023 at Mackinaw City. She was added for 468 assists and 411 steals, both over 92 games, and she’s continuing her career at St. Norbert (Wis.). Additionally, Mackinaw City was added to the single-game field goals list as a team for making at least 39 in a game six times over the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, with a high of 45.

Lansing Christian earned a listing on the team 3-pointers list when it sank 14 on 32 attempts against Webberville on Jan. 20, 2023. Seven players drained at least one of the long-distance shots.  

Grayling’s 66-49 win over Houghton Lake on Dec. 19 included one of the most impressive defensive performances of all-time as senior Makayla Watkins had 19 steals – tying for third-most in one game.

Brooklyn Columbia Central’s Zoandria Bamm grabbed 28 rebounds during a Feb. 14, 2023, game against Clinton to make the single-game list in that category and on the way to finishing her senior season with 380 rebounds over 25 games – tying for 13th most on that list. She’s playing at Jackson College.

Riley Abney became the first player to be listed for points scored in a quarter of a girls basketball game when she sank 21 of her 36 total during the fourth quarter of a 64-47 loss to Linden on Jan. 16. The Ortonville Brandon senior has committed to be a preferred walk-on at Oakland.

A pair of Paw Paw standouts earned single-game accomplishments within three days of each other in January. On Jan. 26 against Sturgis, junior AJ Rickli grabbed 31 rebounds, tied for seventh-most for one game. On Jan. 29 against Three Rivers, sophomore Stella Shaefer made the single-game assists list with 14.

Keira Maki joined the single-game points list on Feb. 22 when she scored 47 in Escanaba’s 64-49 win over Sault Ste. Marie. The senior will continue at Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

PHOTO Baraga’s Corina Jahfetson (22) brings the ball upcourt during the 2023 Division 4 Final against Glen Lake at Breslin Center.