Western Wins Big as Emert Shows Way

January 16, 2019

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

WALLED LAKE – The past two holiday seasons, there has been more trash-talking than usual among Steve Emert and his family.

Two years ago, Emert was offered and accepted the girls basketball head coaching job at Walled Lake Western. But there was one intriguing family twist to that decision.

His granddaughter, Olivia Emert, was a varsity basketball player at rival Walled Lake Central.

For that reason, cue the trash talking around the thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables, although it was obviously good-natured.

“Just a little trash talking back and forth,” Emert said with a laugh. “The trash talking takes place more with my sons. But that’s OK. It’s all in jest and fun.”

Truth be told, if it wasn’t for Olivia, Steve wouldn’t be coaching at Western – where as of Jan. 16, he had amassed a 31-2 record over the last 1½ seasons.

Now a senior at Central, Olivia wasn’t shy about lending her opinion when Steve told her he had been approached about the job at rival Western.

“I sat down with her and told her I had been approached to coach another team,” Steve Emert recalls. “But if you said, ‘Grandpa, I want you at my games,’ then I’m going to be at your games. I’m not going to coach. She said, ‘Grandpa, go do what your passion is. Go coach.’ So that’s what I did.”

As a result, Emert, his family and the entire Walled Lake community got to celebrate a significant milestone Dec. 20.

That night, Western beat Milford, 68-39, to give Emert his 400th career win.

“It’s a big accomplishment,” Emert said. “It’s nice to have, but as I tell a lot of people, it just means I’m getting old and I’ve been around a long time. But I’m proud of it and I’m proud of the fact I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many good student-athletes and parents.”

He started his coaching career in the Walled Lake school district in 1979, with the highlight of his time on the bench coming in 1995 when he helped lead Walled Lake Central to the Class A championship game. Central was defeated by Flint Northern, 59-40.

A few years later, Emert gave up coaching to take on an administration role in the Walled Lake district, which prohibited administrators from being coaches. He did, however, serve as coach of the Oakland Community College women’s team from 1999-2001.

>Emert retired as an administrator in 2009, but got back into coaching less than three years later when he was offered and accepted the varsity girls basketball coaching job at Oxford.

“When I retired, basically my wife said, ‘You’ve got to get out of the house. You’re driving me crazy,’” Emert said.

Emert quickly turned around the Oxford program, leading the Wildcats to an Oakland Activities Association White title in 2014-15 before resigning the following season after five years on the job.

The big motivation leaving Oxford was spending more time watching Olivia, who at the time was a part-time starter for Central.

Now a senior for the Vikings, Olivia gave her grandfather her blessing to take over at the rival school, and Western has become one of the top teams in the Detroit area with a 9-0 record. Western went 22-2 last season.

Led by senior guard Kailee Ford (20 ppg), junior forward Jenna Galecki (18 ppg) and senior forward Sarah Rachiele (16 ppg), the Warriors are thriving in the up-tempo system that Emert employs, which includes constant trapping on defense and running at every offensive opportunity.

Rachiele, who was a member of the varsity team before Emert arrived, said the difference in philosophy has been like night and day since he took over.

“Our two coaches were old-fashioned, pull-it-back out, and they were perfectly fine winning a game 24-23,” Rachiele said. “Although we were winning games, I don’t feel any girls on the team were enjoying it. It was an adjustment at first (to become fast-paced), but I think all of us knew that is what was best for us as a team and we adapted to it pretty quickly.”

There will be plenty more time for trash-talk between the Emerts, since Central and Western still have to play twice during the regular season in Lakes Valley Conference play and have drawn each other in the first round of District play March 4.

But no matter what happens, the community is certainly happy that Emert is continuing to add to his coaching legacy in Walled Lake – and on the state’s landscape as well.

“He is such a humble guy, and he really doesn’t want to own up to all the accomplishments he has,” Rachiele said. “We know now what an impact he’s had on high school basketball.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Walled Lake Western girls basketball coach Steve Emert huddles with his players during a break. (Middle) Emert and his team celebrate his 400th career victory Dec. 20. (Photos courtesy of the Walled Lake Western girls basketball program.

St. George's Senior Season Filled with Historic Trip, Sizzling 3-Point Shooting

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.