From Underdogs to Top Dogs: Summerfield Wins 1st Regional Title

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

April 2, 2021

PETERSBURG – Mickey Moody is making a habit out of taking Monroe County schools to new heights. 

While coaching Jefferson’s softball team in 2006, the Bears reached the MHSAA Finals for the first time in school history. At Dundee, Moody coached the Vikings softball team to its first-ever Finals championship in 2013 and into the Semifinals in 2019.

On Wednesday, Moody coached the Petersburg Summerfield girls basketball team to the first Regional championship in school history and a berth in the Division 4 Quarterfinals. 

“The girls are really playing well,” Moody said. “I’m so excited for them. It all starts with the kids. I am an old school coach. I’m pretty strict.”

Moody has changed the mood at Summerfield, and the success on the court shows.

“When we were freshmen four years ago, things were a lot different,” said senior Grace Kalb. “He’s definitely changed the mindset. All the coaches have. They are very encouraging. They never give up on us, they always tell us to give them everything we have, and we listen.

“You could feel it changing last year. This year, we have continued down that path.”

Summerfield won 13 games last season in a big turnaround, improving from just five wins in 2018-19 and only four in Moody’s first season coaching Summerfield in 2016-17. Despite the lack of historical success, Moody did not hesitate to tell the girls how far he thought they could go this season.

Summerfield girls basketball 2“It started at our first practice way back in November,” Kalb said. “He told us that we had an opportunity to win a Regional, which had never been done before at our school. When we got to Districts this year, we had a plan. This is our year.”

Summerfield was unranked during the regular season. The Bulldogs started out 3-3, including a 33-point loss to Sand Creek. A week later, they rebounded to beat the Aggies by three. Summerfield closed the regular season by winning six of its last seven games and finished fourth in the Tri-County Conference.

“I don’t talk about league championships,” Moody said. “I tell the girls the league is a bonus. I want their ultimate goal to be to go as far as you can. Well, as far as you can means the state finals.”

That is still two wins away, but anything is possible.

The Bulldogs beat Britton Deerfield to win the District title and hosted the Regional which ended with wins against Allen Park Inter-City Baptist and Southfield Christian. The school’s first-ever Regional title came after Kalb scored a career-high 21 points. Sophomore Abby Haller, the team’s top scorer, added 17, and the other senior on the roster, Breanna Weston, scored 11.

“It was amazing to win at home,” Weston said. “It’s been dream come true.”

Moody said the difference in Summerfield’s late-season surge has been defense.

“We are playing much more aggressive defensively,” he said. “We have been able to put a lot of pressure on teams. They’ve always played hard, but we are coming together now.”

In addition to the two seniors, Summerfield has two juniors in Sydney Redlinger and Elaney Fisher and two sophomores, Haller and Destanee Smith. Moody has five freshmen on the varsity right now.

“All five girls of our starters are shooting the ball super well,” Moody said. “Everyone thinks Abby is going to be our leading scorer, but all of the girls are shooting well. That helps because teams can’t just key on one girl.”

Kalb and Weston are four-year players.

“Grace is my steady engine,” Moody said. “I know she’s going to play well defensively. She always does. Her leadership on the floor is even more important.”

Summerfield girls basketball 3Weston has upped her game in the postseason as well.

“This is the best she’s shot in her four years,” Moody said. “She averaged about 12 points a game during the regular season but has stepped up in the tournament. She looks to score a lot more right now.

“From the time they were freshmen until now, their knowledge of basketball has improved so much. They’ve gotten better every year.”

Moody said the foundation was set for this year’s tournament run with last year’s loss in the Division 3 District. The Bulldogs lost to a solid Blissfield team.

“We played very well,” he said. “I think with that game, the girls saw what they were capable of. Right then we set the goal of getting out of Districts this year.”

Weston said the Bulldogs believed in Moody because he believed in them.

“It was different before,” she said. “Before, we were the underdogs. Now, we are the top dogs. We have done something that’s never been done before in our school’s history. It has been a surreal moment. We are making our marks now. It’s been a great ride.”

Moody got his start in coaching on the softball diamond, not the basketball floor. He is in his 10th year coaching the Dundee softball team but has not started coaching the Vikings yet this spring. Before Dundee, he coached four seasons at Jefferson.

“My assistant coaches are running things for me,” he said. “I love softball, but my main focus is the basketball team right now.”

The Bulldogs will take on Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes on Monday in St. Clair Shores. 

“We’re going to have to come up with a really good scheme,” Moody said. “They are a good team. Our girls are excited about being this far. I am really happy for them. It’s nice to see their hard work pay off.”

Anything is possible at this point of the season. Summerfield is not planning to back down just because the Lakers might have more postseason experience.

“I’ve been blessed,” Moody said. “Once the kids understand what we are trying to do and the goals, things fell into place. Every team I’ve coached, the work ethic has been outstanding. Once they get confidence, they just take off.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Summerfield’s Grace Kalb, left, makes a move to the basket during her team’s District Final win over Britton Deerfield. (Middle) Bulldogs coach Mickey Moody shows off some of the latest hardware won by his program. (Below) Breanna Watson unrolls a layup against the Patriots. (Photos by Mike Doughty.)

Hemlock, Rockford Follow 3-Point Success to 1st Titles, Record Book Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 1, 2023

Hemlock and Rockford's drives to their first Girls Basketball Finals championships in March were paced in part by some of the strongest 3-point shooting in MHSAA history.

The Division 1 title-winning Rams connected on 243 3-pointers – third-most all-time – over 29 games in tying the single-season wins record while finishing 28-1. Grace Lyons, a senior this fall, made the single-season individual list with 70 3-pointers.

The Huskies won in Division 3 having connected on 229 3-pointers over 29 games, seventh-most in MHSAA history, on 678 attempts, which ranks 12th on that list. Chloe Watson made the single-season list with 75 3-pointers, and Regan Finkbeiner did as well connecting on 67.

Watson also made the career 3-pointers list with 224 and Finkbeiner with 194, and 2017 Hemlock graduate Samantha Krauss was added for 65 3-pointers as a junior in 2015-16 and 188 for her career. Additionally, past Hemlock standout Karli Herrington was added for her 317 rebounds in 2012-13, and Peyton Apsey was added for 144 steals in 2010-11.

Watson is continuing her career at Mid-Michigan College, and Finkbeiner is playing softball at Madonna. Herrington went on to play at Central Michigan and Northwood, Krauss played at Ferris State and Apsey played at Oakland.

Read on for more recent record book additions for girls basketball:

Girls Basketball

Hudsonville’s Maddie Petroelje joined the list of top 3-point shooters in MHSAA history as a junior in 2021-22, when she connected on 70 (in just 147 attempts) to make the single-season list. She graduated this spring 16th on the career list as well with 226 3-pointers in 512 attempts over 92 games and four seasons. She is continuing at Loyola (Ill.).

Byron Center’s Avery Zeinstra also finished her career among those top 3-point shooters. She also made the single-season list with 70 in 147 attempts as a freshman in 2018-19, and she capped her career in 2021-22 with 206 3-pointers (tied for 20th-most) in 502 attempts over four seasons and 80 career games. She is continuing at Grand Valley State.

Hannah Thompson was best known for her soccer scoring at Schoolcraft. But she’s made a second MHSAA record book for her 15 steals in a Jan. 28, 2022, basketball win over Galesburg-Augusta. She’s continuing her soccer career at Eastern Michigan.

Baraga’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals in 2022 received big boosts from Corina Jahfetson’s 3-point shooting and Reide Osterman’s defense. Jahfetson was added to the record book with 66 3-pointers over 25 games, including nine in a game against Carney Nadeau – when Baraga as a team made the record book with 14 3-pointers total. Osterman made the record book with 153 steals. Jahfetson graduated this spring, and Osterman is playing at Northern Michigan.

Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation Academy’s Audrey Mileski had one of the busiest games at the free throw line in MHSAA history Dec. 14, 2021. She made 23 free throws – third-most in a single game – against Wyoming Kelloggsville. Mileski graduated this spring.

Sophia Bussell had set Monroe’s single-game 3-pointers record of eight as a freshman two seasons ago, and she bettered it last Dec. 13 by tying for the 10th-most in MHSAA history. She made 10-pointers including the game-winner of a 58-56 victory over Ypsilanti Lincoln. A little less than 10 months earlier, Adrian Lenawee Christian then-senior Kylie Summer also made 10, on 17 attempts, during a 57-34 win over Lansing Christian on Feb. 24, 2022.

Lydia Meredith enjoyed a memorable senior season for Portland St. Patrick in 2021-22, finishing her four-year varsity career with 453 steals over just 80 games. She also was added for drilling 17 free throws in 22 attempts against Fowler. She plays now at Saginaw Valley State.

Gabby Piepho got off to a fast start at Howell as a freshman last season, and at a record-setting pace at the free-throw line. She made 93 of 107 attempts over 25 games, for an .869 percentage that made the single-season list. That included a string of 47 straight free throws that ranks as the second-longest in MHSAA history. As a team, Howell tied for sixth all-time with 301 free throws over 25 games, on 439 attempts.

Kent City’s Lexie Bowers reached the single-season 3-pointers list for the second time last season, connecting on 72 of 233 tries over 26 games (after making 77 as a junior), and finished her four-season varsity career 16th on that 3-pointers list with 225 in 693 attempts over 99 games. She’s continuing her career at Northwood. Kent City as a team also reached the single-season 3-pointers made and attempted lists again, ranking fourth with 753 attempts and tying for eighth all-time by connecting on 202.

Posen then-junior Faith Cousins earned a par of record book entries during 2021-22 for assists. Her 16 in a District Final win on March 4, 2022, remain tied for fifth-most in one game, and she finished with 165 over 22 games for the season. She’s set to begin her softball career at Alma College.

Niles Brandywine went over 20 wins again this past season, finishing 21-3, and again the 3-pointer was a key tool in that pursuit. Brandywine made the record book with back-to-back games of 13 3-pointers to close the regular season, and finished with 175 3-pointers in 592 attempts over 23 games (with one won by forfeit).

Greenville’s Megan Leslie averaged more than two 3-pointers a game during her four-season varsity career, making the record list with 153 total over 76 games through graduation this spring. She’s continuing her career at Alma College.

Successful 3-point shooting played a major role in Saline finishing 21-4 with league and District titles last winter. The Hornets attempted 704 3-pointers – ninth-most all-time for one season – and connected on 191, which is 12th on that list. They made a season-high 14 against Ypsilanti Lincoln on Nov. 29 to make the single-game list.

Marcellus senior Brooklyn VanTilburg enjoyed a big finish to her high school career last winter, making the record book with 16 blocked shots in a game against Centreville and 135 blocks total for the season. She’ll continue at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kennedy Gustafson made headlines last winter as a sophomore and earned a pair of record listings for her rebounding. She grabbed 26 in a March 3 District Final win over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, and she finished with 376 rebounds over 25 games for the season.

PHOTO Hemlock's Regan Finkbeiner, left, follows through on a free throw attempt during last season's Division 3 Final, and Rockford's Grace Lyons launches the game-winning 3-pointer in Division 1.