By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Nine teams won their first MHSAA championships this spring. Birmingham Brother Rice's boys lacrosse team won its ninth in a row.
And those are only among the toppers of the long list that made memorable moments during this season's Finals, which finished up the school year two weekends ago.
Locking down the 10 most significant performances is impossible. But endeavoring to do so, here are one person's guess at those that will continue to be discussed most in the years to come.
Among those that just missed this list: Brother Rice boys lacrosse, St. Ignace's girls track and field team after winning its fourth straight team title, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett's baseball team after its extra-innings Final win over Beal City, Grandville Calvin Christian's girls soccer team after winning a rematch of last season's Division 4 Final and Port Huron Northern's girls tennis team after it emerged from a loaded field to win the Lower Peninsula Division 1 title.
Sami Michell Shines Once More
In her final high school meet, Reed City senior Sami Michell won four more MHSAA Finals individual titles to finish her career with 12 – two more than the previous Lower Peninsula record. A year after becoming the second female to win four events at one Finals meet, she did so again by finishing first in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles, the 200 dash and the long jump. She scored 40 points to claim the team runner-up trophy for her school. Click to read more.
Best Class of All-Time?
That could be the argument for this season’s girls track and field seniors, as twins Hannah and Haley Meier and Erin Finn joined Sami Michell, Detroit Country Day's Kendall Baisden and a host of others in finishing their careers. The Meiers already are members of a national record-holding relay (which set its milestone in 2012), and Hannah won two more Division 1 individual titles (setting all-Finals records) while Haley placed in the same two races and joined her sister on two winning relays. West Bloomfield’s Finn, considered as well one of the nation’s top high school distance runners, finished third to the Meiers in the Division 1 1,600 before cutting nine seconds off her 2012 time in setting an all-Finals record in the 3,200. Click to read more.
Warriors Earn First Title for Winning Coach
Bay City Western’s baseball team strung together two 1-0 shutouts by pitchers Brett Adcock and then Connor Foley to claim its first MHSAA baseball championship – and the first to go with coach Tim McDonald’s other 563 wins over the last 21 seasons. The 1-0 championship game victory over Brother Rice was Western's 35th straight of the season; Western finished 42-2. Click to read more.
Gull Lake Soccer Makes Mark
Richland Gull Lake hadn’t played in a girls soccer Final since 1999, but survived two overtimes against reigning champion Bloomfield Hills Marian to win the Division 2 championship game 1-0. The title was Gull Lake’s first since 1992 and came against a program that not only won in 2012, but three of the last five Division 2 championships. Click to read more.
Upper Peninsula Ace Shoots Record Round
Snow and rain put a damper on a good portion of the girls golf season in the Upper Peninsula this spring. But no U.P. female golfer has ever finished as strongly as Marquette’s Avery Rochester. She claimed her second straight individual Finals championship with a U.P. Finals-record 69, which was three under par at Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton. Her score also was just one more stroke than the all-Finals record of 68 shot by Grandville’s Stacy Snider in 1998. Click to read more.
7 ... 2 ... 1 ... Champion Tecumseh
Tecumseh entered the MHSAA Tournament after finishing the regular season an honorable mention in the Division 2 softball coaches poll. But the Indians defeated No. 1 Stevensville Lakeshore in the Quarterfinal, reigning champion and No. 2 Livonia Ladywood in the Semifinal and No. 7 Saginaw Swan Valley in the Final to claim their first championship since 2008. Click to read more.
Bishop Foley Sets Baseball Bar
Madison Heights Bishop Foley claimed its third straight Division 3 baseball championship to become the first in MHSAA baseball history to win that many consecutive titles. Bishop Foley is 112-8-1 over the last three seasons and finished 35-2-1 this spring. The Ventures outscored their Bailey Park competition by a combined 18-5 over Finals weekend – getting junior Garrett Schilling to 15-0 for this season and 31-0 for his career with a 6-0 Semifinal win. Click to read more.
Done Deal for Dundee
The Dundee softball team eliminated two-time reigning champion Clinton on the way to Bailey Park this spring, and then beat three-time champion Unionville-Sebewaing in the Division 3 Final to claim its first MHSAA championship in the sport. In the process, Dundee finished 45-1 – setting an MHSAA record for wins in a softball season. Click to read more.
Troy Moves Up to No. 1
After two-straight Division 1 runner-up finishes, Troy earned its first girls soccer championship since 2003 with a 2-1 Final win over Grandville. The Colts had been outscored a combined 3-0 in the last two MHSAA Division 1 Finals, and began this season 3-6-2 before rattling off 15 wins and a tie on the way to claiming the championship. Click to read more.
Tie-Breaker After Heart-Breaker
The Battle Creek Lakeview boys golf team had finished one stroke behind Birmingham Brother Rice at the 2012 Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final, and found itself tied with Plymouth this month after the final round was complete. But thanks to a fifth-player tie-breaker, Lakeview claimed its first MHSAA championship since 2008. Click to read more.
We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA boys basketball season – and while the entertaining part is detailed below in our regular Monday report, there’s some major data crunching underway behind the scenes as well.
Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. More than 720 varsity teams are playing this winter, and we’re in the midst of a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 24-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.
Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – and when Districts are drawn and those top teams seeded Feb. 26, we hope to have every schedule up to date and every score filled in.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. North Farmington 68, Muskegon 55 These two have lived at or near the top of Division 1 MPR all season, making this win by the Raiders (12-1) at the 2K23 Showcase at Aquinas College arguably their best, especially considering it also was the first loss for the Big Reds (13-1).
2. Saline 57, Ann Arbor Huron 47 The Hornets (11-4) saw an eight-game winning streak end three days later, but in this one handed Huron (13-1) its lone defeat of the season.
3. Ann Arbor Huron 67, Benton Harbor 55 The River Rats, meanwhile, rebounded immediately with a 13-point win over Dexter and then a 67-55 victory over Benton Harbor (13-3) at Aquinas.
4. Warren Lincoln 52, Grand Rapids Northview 37 The Abes (12-3) just keep impressing, this time with a big win over a Northview team matching their 12-3 record, also during the 2K23 Showcase.
5. Iron Mountain 64, Powers North Central 58 This matched arguably the best in the Upper Peninsula in Divisions 3 and 4, respectively, with the Mountaineers moving to 13-1 and the Jets to 11-2.
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) The Cubs have won outright or shared the last two Detroit Catholic League Central championships, and they’re hoping to run that streak to three by winning Friday’s rematch with first-place Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1). A 68-53 defeat to the Warriors on Jan. 24 and a 67-64 loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Jan. 6 have left Jesuit a game back, but the Cubs do have a sweep of reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate plus early impressive nonleague wins over Clarkston and Ferndale.
Kalamazoo Central (13-2) After just missing the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago – losing to Northview by two in a Quarterfinal – the Maroon Giants are ahead of their 16-win pace from that finish with their only losses to Brother Rice and Battle Creek Lakeview (11-3), the latter by a point. They also defeated Lakeview in the teams’ first meeting, handed Mattawan its only loss and most recently defeated Detroit Renaissance at the 2K23 event.
Ferndale (7-6) Few if any have played a tougher schedule, especially considering Ferndale is Division 2 playing most of the Division 1 powers. The Eagles are No. 5 in Division 2 MPR despite a 1-5 start including losses to Brother Rice, Jesuit, St. Mary’s and Muskegon, and then a two-point loss to North Farmington last week. Meanwhile, Ferndale has defeated Grosse Pointe South (13-3), Flint Beecher (12-3), Clarkston (11-5) and River Rouge (10-5). The North Farmington rematch is Feb. 24, and a Feb. 11 matchup with Port Huron Northern should also boost MPR.
Grand Rapids Christian (10-4) The Eagles may be in fourth in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but they are No. 6 in Division 2 MPR. Three of the four losses were to league opponents, but Christian is coming off a 55-53 double-overtime win over Warren Michigan Collegiate (13-2) on Saturday at Aquinas. An early win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central and a Jan. 21 victory over De La Salle also stand out.
Flint Beecher (12-3) The Bucs are off to another big start after last season’s finish at the Division 3 Semifinals, losing only to Detroit Cass Tech (17-0), Benton Harbor and Ferndale as Beecher also has loaded up its nonleague schedule. Beecher also has four wins over teams with double-digit victories, with an 80-71 defeat of Flint Hamady (14-2) on Jan. 10 putting the Bucs in first in the Genesee Area Conference Red. The Hamady rematch is Feb. 18, before a major regular-season finish against Goodrich (13-1) and Grand Blanc (14-2).
Napoleon (14-0) The Pirates aren’t sneaking up on anyone after going 19-3 last season, but they are dominating nonetheless. All but one win have been by eight points or more, and Napoleon leads the Cascades Conference after finishing second last year with a pair of losses to Vandercook Lake. The Pirates not only defeated Vandercook in their first meeting, by 40, but next defeated Michigan Center by 17 after the Cardinals ended their season last winter. Napoleon also has a 63-45 win over Big 8 Conference co-leader Concord.
Baldwin (13-1) The Panthers are coming off an 18-5 finish and second place in the West Michigan D League, and they lead it this time by two games and with a win over Mesick after losing both meetings to the eventual league champ a year ago. Baldwin also has avenged a 2021-22 loss to Mason County Eastern and could avenge another hosting Traverse City Christian on Tuesday. The Panthers also have given Marion (11-4) half its losses.
Powers North Central (11-2) As noted above, the Jets are at least among the handful of elite small-school Upper Peninsula teams, No. 4 in statewide Division 4 MPR although second in D4 in the U.P. with Painesdale Jeffers in the top spot. Those two wouldn’t see each other until a Regional Final, where North Central’s 19-5 run ended last season. The Jets only defeats this time are to Division 2 Kingsford and Division 3 Iron Mountain, which stand a combined 25-3.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – Goodrich (13-1) at Corunna (12-2) – They’re tied atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Goodrich winning the first meeting 69-54 on Jan. 10.
Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1) – As noted above, the Detroit Catholic League Central title will be on the line, as Jesuit can force a shared championship.
Saturday – Hamtramck (10-5) vs. Kalamazoo Central (13-2) at Benton Harbor – The Cosmos have faced their share of statewide elite as well, and will be seeking what would be one of their most notable wins in this Wilson Chandler Shootout matchup.
Saturday – Flint Hamady (14-2) at Davison (10-5) – Old rivals meet again as Davison is coached by longtime Beecher leader Mike Williams.
Saturday – Saginaw Arthur Hill (7-9) at Saginaw (14-4) – They’ll still have 2023-24 left before one the best rivalries in state history ends with a school merger, but this year’s rematch comes after Saginaw won 57-55 on Jan. 14.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Saginaw player gets to the rim during Friday's 59-54 loss to Mount Pleasant. (Middle) A Montabella player goes to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.(Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)