Top-Ranked Rangers Finish Run to #1

June 17, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

WILLIAMSTON – Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central girls soccer coach Jeremy Stacy technically had an MHSAA championship on his coaching resume before Saturday, but he wasn’t there that day to experience it.

In his first year leading the Rangers’ program back in 2008, Stacy got married on the same day they won the Division 2 title.

On Saturday though, no wedding vows or cake cutting prevented him from experiencing what it was like to win the ultimate prize.

Behind second-half goals from senior Bailey Korhorn and sophomore Ashley Ward, Forest Hills Central won its first-ever Division 1 championship with a 2-0 win over Grand Blanc.

Forest Hills Central had previously won Division 2 championships in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Adding to the title for Stacy was that the victory came on his wife’s birthday, three days after his wedding anniversary and a day before he planned on celebrating Father’s Day with his four children.

“It feels really good,” Stacy said. “It was cool to see the atmosphere here. Regardless of the result, it is fun to be in a state final. But it is much cooler to be on the winning end, that’s for sure.”

The championship also capped off a season where Forest Hills Central had to carry the target of being the state’s No. 1-ranked team for a majority of it.

“It was kind of a struggle sometimes,” Stacy said. “We had so much pressure that we weren’t having as much fun as we needed to have to get better. We had a little talk about that midseason. We had more fun and got better in the process.”

After a first half that featured few scoring chances, Forest Hills Central opened the scoring 10 minutes into the second on a goal by Korhorn, who has signed to continue her career at University of Cincinnati.

Korhorn got the ball at the top of the box, turned and fired a laser into the left corner of the net to make it 1-0 Rangers.

“I took a touch and shot it top-left,” Korhorn said. “As soon as I saw it hit the back of the net, it was unreal. It was the best feeling of my life.

“What a great four years I’ve had here at Central. I’ll miss it so much.”

Forest Hills Central (21-0-4) then added an insurance goal with 5:48 remaining when Ward headed in a chance in front of the goal after a prior opportunity hit the crossbar.

“It was a great game and great opponent,” Grand Blanc coach Greg Kehler said. “They finished their chances, and we didn’t. It’s not like we didn’t have good opportunities. Hats off to them.”

Grand Blanc was attempting to win its first MHSAA title following losses in the 2015 and 2004 title games, and saw its season end with a 22-3-4 record.

“I’m the Bud Grant and Marv Levy of high school soccer,” Kehler joked, referring to former NFL coaches who lost a combined eight Super Bowls. “They lost four and I’ve lost (three). But it’s a battle to get here, and we’ll keep battling to get back. It will turn over one day.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Forest Hills Central’s Stephanie Curry (14) maintains possession while Grand Blanc’s Samantha Lewis defends. (Middle) Grand Blanc’s Lara Wheeler (5) and the Rangers’ Madison Donley battle for control of the ball.

3-Sport Standout Sluss Gives Lenawee Christian All-State Boost for Every Season

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

January 11, 2023

ADRIAN – Avery Sluss picked up a golf club for the first time her freshmen year at Adrian Lenawee Christian. Now she’s an all-state golfer.

Southeast & BorderSluss started playing basketball because it was a way for her and her older brother, Gavin, to connect. She’s now the leading scorer on the Cougars basketball team a year after receiving all-state recognition.

Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She will return to the soccer field in the spring already with her college plans in place. She signed recently to play goalkeeper at Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I’ve learned so much from sports,” Avery said. “It teaches me a lot about life.”

Her coaches call her a self-motivated athlete, quiet leader and someone dedicated to her faith, her teammates, and academics. She is a 4.0 student and has played four years of varsity golf, basketball, and soccer. She’s earned all-state recognition in all three sports.

“She is very self-motivated,” said first-year Lenawee Christian girls basketball coach Emilie Beach. “She doesn’t miss workouts or practices. She pushes herself hard. She forces others to rise (around her).”

Sluss is in her fourth season on the Lenawee Christian varsity basketball team. This year her role changed from mostly a defensive specialist to scorer.

Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center.Beach said Avery hasn’t changed her positive attitude with the changes in her role on the team. She has a high basketball IQ, Beach said, which helps her on the court.

“It can be tough and frustrating, but she comes in with a great attitude each day and leads her teammates,” Beach said. “She is a quiet leader who leads by example. She is hardest on herself, and that’s where a lot of her motivation comes from.”

The Cougars have had great success on the basketball floor the last several years, and Sluss has been part of it. She’s played alongside all-staters and played at the Breslin Center. She started and played 20 minutes in last year’s Semifinal loss to Plymouth Christian Academy.

This season she’s averaging 14.5 points a game, with 16 3-pointers, and has scored at least 17 points four times.

“It’s very different, but I like the role I’m in now,” she said. “Now, it’s like you have to score. I’ve accepted it. I’m just trying my best to fulfill that role for my teammates.”

Sluss sat out the fall travel soccer season while she was recovering from a slight back injury. But she was able to hit the golf course. She shot a two-day total of 186 at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final, helping the Cougars finish second as a team. A year earlier Sluss shot an 89 and 87 and helped the Cougars finish fourth overall.

Not bad for someone who didn’t pick up a golf club until just a few years ago.

“Golf was new to me my freshman year,” she said. “Some of my friends said I should try it, so I did. I went to the range maybe one or two times before I started to play. I’ve loved it.”

As far as sports goes, soccer was her first love. She started playing at the age of 4 when a neighborhood dad gathered a few girls together and formed a team.

“We started playing in the back yard,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer ever since. My first travel team was when I was 7.”

Sluss first started thinking about playing college soccer when she was in kindergarten.

“I’ve always wanted to play soccer in college,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about that. I’ve spent so much time on the sport that it would be silly not to. I want it to pay off with college.”

Sluss plants a chip on the green. She used to play multiple positions but turned to goalkeeper at the age of 12.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “There are a lot of little things. The mental part of being a goalkeeper is important.”

After being named to the coaches association all-state third team last year, Sluss is primed for a big season this spring, especially with her college choice behind her.

“It is a strong Christian college, which was important to me,” she said. “It’s a lot like Lenawee Christian. Everyone on the soccer team was great when I met them, and the girls are so nice.”

Sluss has become adept at mixing sports with academics and life.

“Balance is a big issue,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, especially doing two at a time.

“My whole family, my parents (David and Kristen), they always push me to be the best I can be. I owe them a lot. Even my little sister (Addie) pushes me to do my best.”

Avery’s family moved from Toledo to the Adrian area several years ago, and the two perfectly complement to each other.

“Lenawee Christian has been a great fit for me,” she said. “All of the people are awesome, and I have grown in my faith here.”

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) Avery Sluss gathers up the ball while playing keeper for Lenawee Christian’s soccer team. (Middle) Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Below) Sluss plants a chip on the green. (Photos courtesy of the Lenawee Christian athletic department.)