Youngest Liedel Providing Prolific Finish to Family's High-Scoring Legacy

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

February 9, 2022

ERIE – An end of an era is coming in southeast Michigan. 

Only two miles from Lake Erie, a barn with a basketball court inside has helped develop some of the best 3-point shooters in state history. The youngest of 10 in a basketball-crazed family, Elizabeth Liedel, better known locally as Lizzie, is winding down her senior season and putting up big numbers – just like many of her siblings did.

“When I was younger, I kind of liked softball better,” Lizzie said. “When I got a little older, basketball definitely became my favorite. I think my brothers and sisters had something to do with that.”

So did the barn, which her father Brad built years ago for his power washing business. It wasn’t long after that the barn became home to a half basketball court with regulation backboards and, of course, a 3-point line. 

“I try and get out there every day or every other day and work on my shooting,” Lizzie said. “I’ve put up a lot of shots in the barn.”

Lizzie is a senior for Erie Mason, a Division 3 team that is 12-3 and undefeated in the Tri-County Conference. The Eagles can clinch their second-straight TCC title with a win Thursday at home against Morenci. If they are able to capture another league title, you can bet Lizzie will play a key role. A four-year varsity player, she is averaging 28.1 points per game this season.

The family connection to basketball begins with Brad Liedel, who went to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, where he participated in multiple sports, including wrestling. He was in high school when he coached his first team.

“That was baseball,” he said. “I didn’t coach my first basketball team until after I graduated from high school.”

Brad and Beth Liedel have 10 kids, and all of their names are inspired by their faith – Matthew, Ben, Theresa, Maria, Michael, Sarah, Greg, Mary, Joseph and Elizabeth.

Brad has coached for years, from area high schools to travel ball in the summers.

“The kids will come to the barn, and we’ll play basketball and I put together some teams and we go out and play,” he said. “I love teaching the game and helping kids get better at the game. I just love basketball.”

Brad was a junior varsity basketball coach at SMCC when his oldest son, Matt, won the Monroe County Region Player of the Year honor. Two years later, in 2005-06, Ben Liedel set a state record by making 116 3-pointers, a record that has since been broken.

The basketball legend continued to grow. Sarah played at Erie Mason, as did Greg, who wound up with more than 900 career points.

The youngest three siblings – Mary, Joe and Lizzie – have been the biggest scorers. Mary made 56 3-pointers during her senior year of 2017-18 and finished her four seasons on varsity with 1,784 points. Joe topped 2,200 career points and made 334 career 3-pointers, second in the state record book for career triples, while helping Erie Mason reach the MHSAA Semifinals for the first time in school history before graduating in 2020. Both are continuing their basketball careers at the college level now.

Joe, who started his college career at University of Detroit-Mercy, is sidelined this semester with an injury, which has enabled him to be home and watch Lizzie mature as a player.

“She’s quite a player,” he said. “She’s fun to watch.”

Lizzie was an immediate starter for the Eagles as a freshman. Four years later, she has 1,354 career points and is having an outstanding senior season.

Erie Mason basketballShe had a high of 47 points against Blissfield, which happened to be the same night she passed 1,000.

Blissfield coach Ryan Gilbert said Liedel is not someone you want to see get hot from the outside. You also don’t want to send her to the free throw line.

“She has the ability to take over a game,” Gilbert said. “I felt like we contested 90 percent of her shots, and she still got to 47.”

Liedel is not just a scorer, although she has made more than 170 career 3-pointers.

“She draws double and triple teams quite often and she has great vision to keep her teammates involved,” Gilbert said. “What separates her from the rest is her ability to move without the ball, especially right after she gives it up. Something a lot of great players struggle with is moving without the ball; she does not, and it makes her tough to defend.”

Lizzie said the Blissfield game was a special one.

“My teammates were finding me, and I was really feeling good,” she said. “I think I made my first five 3-pointers. I felt like I couldn’t miss. Everything was going right.”

She finished four points behind her sister Mary’s single-game Erie Mason scoring record of 51. 

Liedel was invited last summer to participate in the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Reaching Higher showcase.

“It was very different playing against all of these girls you don’t know,” she said. “It was a unique experience.”

Liedel is one of five seniors for the Eagles. They have won 53 games over her four varsity seasons, including a 13-0 record last year before being eliminated from the Division 3 tournament by eventual champion Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. This year’s losses have been to two Division 1 schools – Monroe and Howell – and SMCC. 

“I’m happy with how we are playing,” she said. “We really wanted to win the league again, and we have a good shot at it. I love this team. They are helping me do a lot better this year.”

Her offseason work, including playing in the barn, is paying off. She has multiple college scholarship offers, including from Davenport, Indiana-Kokomo and Schoolcraft. Indiana Tech, an NAIA powerhouse, is interested, as is Lake Superior State. 

She credits her dad and coaches for helping her game develop. She also gives a nod to her brothers and sisters.

“We are so close,” she said. “I love that. We talk all the time. When I come home after games, they’ll tell me how I did or what I need to do to get better.”

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) Erie Mason’s Lizzie Liedel makes a move toward the basket against Carleton Airport. (Middle) Liedel shows off the family barn where she’s sharpened her shot. (Top photo by Tom Hawley; middle photo courtesy of Brad Liedel.)

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.