'Underdog' Sailors Sink Reigning Champ

March 18, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Grand Rapids South Christian rarely plays a girls basketball game it’s not expected to win.

So labeling the Sailors "underdogs" probably was an exaggerated assessment heading into Friday’s Class B Semifinal again reigning champion Detroit Country Day.

True, the Yellowjackets were ranked No. 1 heading into the postseason and had lost only once this winter. But South Christian was No. 3, had lost only twice, and brought back three seniors who had come 17 minutes from an MHSAA championship only two seasons ago.

And now they’ll have the chance to bring back the Sailors’ first title since 1988. South Christian dominated nearly from start to finish to down Country Day 57-46. 

“Being the underdog, it was kinda fun, because no one really expected us to come out how we did, especially in the first half when I think we were up by 10 at halftime,” South Christian senior guard Jenn DeBoer said. “But we knew they were going to keep pushing and keep coming back, and we had to keep our poise and keep our control. But being the underdog and getting this win, it’s such an amazing feeling because no one really knew that we had it in us.”

The Sailors (25-2) will face Marshall at 6 p.m. in Saturday’s final championship game.

DeBoer, forward Markayla Vander and guard Sydney DeYoung were sophomores two seasons ago when South Christian reached the Final but fell 51-38 to Eaton Rapids. Coach Kim Legge – in her first season as head coach – was on the bench and has been part of the program for two decades. 

All of that experience no doubt has led to people outside the program to notice and tell Legge how even-keel her team seems to play – a trait that pays off at this time of year when one swing can end a season.

“People have said, ‘Wow, you look so poised all the time,’” Legge said. “Even when teams make runs at us, we stay even-keeled and keep our heads above water and keep pushing. And that’s just how we’ve operated all season long.”

South Christian led by as many as 16 during the second quarter and 10 at halftime, but did have to hold strong after Destiny Pitts’ 3-pointer with 4:42 left pulled Country Day within 41-37. The Sailors came back with a 16-9 run to finish, with DeBoer scoring six of her game-high 18 points down the stretch.

“They played very good defense; give them credit for that. We, just for some unknown reason, we were hurrying,” Country Day coach Frank Orlando said. “We shot 17 percent from the field in the first half, and that wasn’t us all year. I kept telling the girls that in these kind of games you have to be better, have to be much better, and you have to understand you can’t take away what you’ve done all year.

“We’ve come back against the best teams in the state. … (We) played hard. (We) almost came back. It was that breaking line we just couldn’t get across.”

Staying with the unexpected, South Christian maintained its lead without making a 3-pointer. The Sailors averaged nearly six per game entering the week, but missed all 10 of their attempts Friday. 

But in addition to DeBoer’s 18 points, Vander had 14 on nearly 50 percent shooting from the floor, and DeYoung had six but 11 rebounds. Sophomore forward Mariel Bruxvoort came off the bench to score 10 points while making half her shots and all four of her free-throw attempts.

Pitts – one of the state’s top juniors – had 14 points, only two below her average but while putting up with tight defense by Vander and getting only four shots off from 3-point range (and making one). Sophomore forward Maxine Moore had 13 points and guard Kaela Webb added 11 points and six rebounds for the Yellowjackets (24-2).

“I never second-guessed our team’s ability. I knew that coming into it, if we played our game, we could do it,” DeBoer said.  “We could shut them down defensively, and if we worked the ball on offense  we could get open looks because that’s what we’ve been doing against good defensive teams all season.

So I never really second-guessed them during the game and thought they’re not as good. I just knew we had to keep pushing and we had to stay in control, because we definitely had control most of the game.”

Click for the full box score.

The Girls Basketball Finals are presented by Sparrow Health System. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids South Christian players celebrate Friday’s Class B Semifinal win. (Middle) Country Day’s Kaela Webb drives to the hoop.

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Girls Report Week 10

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 6, 2023

Championship time is quickly approaching this girls basketball season.

MI Student Aid

We’re still three weeks out from the start of District play. But league contenders are clashing all over the state, with a handful of conferences finishing up their schedules this week and several favorites facing off soon with titles on the line. We make mention of a number of those below.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. West Bloomfield 59, Detroit Edison 49 Last season, West Bloomfield (15-2) became the first in-state team to defeat Edison (12-3) since 2018 – and the Lakers have become the only one to do so again this winter.

2. Maple City Glen Lake 51, Traverse City St. Francis 45 The Lakers (13-2) are up to No. 2 in Division 4 MPR, while St. Francis (12-2) sits No. 4 in Division 3.

3. Holt 55, DeWitt 53 The Rams (14-2) sit alone atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue after sending the Panthers (13-2) into second in a matchup of top Division 1 teams statewide.

4. Hancock 50, Calumet 47 The Bulldogs (13-1) maintained their one-game lead in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference West with their second win this season over third-place Calumet (11-3). Both are among the top seven statewide in Division 3 MPR.

5. Detroit Edison 44, Farmington Hills Mercy 42 The Pioneers bounced back from the West Bloomfield loss with a pair of close wins, this one over Mercy (14-2) followed by a one-pointer over Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Saturday.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:

DIVISION 1

Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (11-5) After a 2-4 start with those losses to top Division 1 and 2 teams statewide, Reeths-Puffer is 9-3 and tied for first in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green with Muskegon after edging the Big Reds 56-52 on Friday. That avenged a 14-point loss to Muskegon on Jan. 6, and the Rockets have since gone on an eight-game winning streak. They also opened last week with a 42-39 victory over 11-win Ludington.

Maddie Bradford of Maple City Glen Lake contests a shot by Maggie Napont of Traverse City St. Francis during the Lakers' 51-45 win over the Gladiators last week.

Wayne Memorial (13-4) The Zebras further solidified their standing atop the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East standings with last week’s 75-57 win over second-place Belleville. That followed up a 44-41 win over the Tigers on Jan. 6, and total Wayne has won 12 straight since a 1-3 start that included two-point losses to Division 1 contenders Detroit Renaissance and Hudsonville and a third defeat to Illinois power Chicago Whitney Young.

DIVISION 2

Goodrich (14-1) The Martians are locked in another battle atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Lake Fenton and trail the Blue Devils by a game after a 50-44 loss Jan. 20. That’s Goodrich’s only defeat, and they’ll attempt to avenge it in the league finale Feb. 17. In the meantime, the Martians can continue their statewide push upward with 13-win Flushing coming up Wednesday and 15-win Ovid-Elsie next week as well.

Redford Westfield Prep (11-6) The Warriors take on many of the state’s best, evidenced by their No. 8 MPR despite six losses. Westfield has won seven of its last eight games, the lone defeat during that streak 55-53 to still-undefeated Flint Carman-Ainsworth on Jan. 16 – and with perhaps its most notable instate win of the season 46-45 in double overtime Jan. 12 over reigning Division 3 champion Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.

DIVISION 3

McBain (13-4) The Highland Conference race could go down to the finish, especially after McBain avenged its earlier 17-point loss to second-place Evart with a 51-35 win last week. McBain also has a six-point loss to league leader Lake City from Jan. 20, but can avenge that in the regular-season finale Feb. 23. The Ramblers additionally have a pair of victories over 12-win Beal City and a solid early loss to still-undefeated Division 2 Escanaba.

Ovid-Elsie (15-2) The Marauders haven’t slowed down a bit after last season’s 21-2 finish with league and District titles, the latter in Division 2. This season in Division 3, Ovid-Elsie is up to No. 6 in MPR with a 14-game winning streak since suffering its lone losses early to Pewamo-Westphalia (10-5) and Dansville (15-1). The Marauders handed Mackinaw City its first defeat Saturday, 59-55 on a neutral court, and also has a victory over 14-win Ithaca plus a two-game lead in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference.

DIVISION 4

Fowler (11-6) Coming off back-to-back Division 4 championships, Fowler put together a schedule featuring solid-to-strong teams from Divisions 1-4 and sit No. 3 in Division 4 MPR. The losses have come to Midland Dow, Haslett, Lansing Catholic, Kent City and league rivals Dansville and Portland St. Patrick, and the Eagles avenged the Shamrocks defeat 51-44 last week. Fowler will need help to catch Dansville in the Central Michigan Athletic Conference, down two games from the league leader, but will try to get one back from the Aggies on Feb. 14.

Norway (16-1) The Knights are leading the large-school division of the Skyline Central Conference with the likely deciding matchup coming at Bark River-Harris next week. Norway has lost only to Niagara (Wis.), by five two weeks ago, and handed Carney-Nadeau (13-2) one of its losses among other strong work – and after ending last season’s 11-10 run with a 15-point District loss to the Wolves.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Coldwater (15-1) at Jackson Northwest (15-1) – The Mounties lead Coldwater by a win in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference thanks to a 50-46 win in their first meeting Jan. 10.

Tuesday – Utica Ford (14-1) at Grosse Pointe North (13-2) – North has clinched a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red title heading into tonight’s league finale, while Ford won by a large margin in the MAC White.

Thursday – Houghton (13-1) at Hancock (13-1) – As noted above, Hancock leads the West-PAC West by a game – but will face second-place Houghton twice over the next two weeks.

Friday – Standish-Sterling (15-1) at Hemlock (13-3) – Hemlock owns the lead in the Tri-Valley Conference West 10-1 thanks to a 62-31 doubling up in the first meeting Jan. 6. But that remains the Panthers’ lone loss, and they’ve since handed TVC 10-2 co-leader Saginaw Valley Lutheran one of its two defeats.

Friday – Saline (15-2) at Temperance Bedford (16-1) – Saline is first and Bedford second in the Southeastern Conference Red thanks to Saline’s 41-22 win in their first meeting Jan. 27.

MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) A trio of Fowler defenders surround a Bath player driving to the basket during a 49-27 win earlier this season; they meet again Thursday. (Middle) Maddie Bradford of Maple City Glen Lake contests a shot by Maggie Napont of Traverse City St. Francis during the Lakers' 51-45 win over the Gladiators last week. (Top photo by Click by Christine McCallister. Middle photo by Rick Sack/TC Rick Photo.)