Beginning Another Tourney Journey

August 8, 2016

Below is the introductory commentary to the MHSAA's spring issue of benchmarks. Histories of MHSAA tournaments published in that issue have been appearing on Second Half every Tuesday and Friday. 

By Jack Roberts
MHSAA Executive Director

Concussions and cutbacks. Participation fees and part-time employment. Student safety and specialization. International students and interstate travel. Transfers and trials.

Through a myriad of issues which periodically cloud our mission, the foundation on which the MHSAA was built still shines brightest three times each year: Tournament Time!

It can be daunting and overwhelming to make a living at this business of interscholastic athletics these days, not to mention a tad confusing. Do we need legal degrees? Medical degrees? Business degrees? Marketing degrees? There seems to be no escape from threat of legislative mandates which continually change the landscape of our product and how it’s delivered. Demands pile up, resources dwindle.   

Add the daily challenges of scheduling issues, inclement weather and pleasing teenagers and their parents on a daily basis, and it’s easy to lose focus of the primary missions for the MHSAA and its member schools.

And then, scenes like this happen:

• Holly Bullough, a senior cross country runner from Traverse City St. Francis takes her second straight Division 3 championship, winning by 36.4 seconds ... with a stress fracture in her left foot.

• Detroit Martin Luther King QB Armani Posey directs a game-winning drive to give his school the Division 2 football championship ... a drive which started on his own 3-yard line with 37 seconds left and ended with a 40-yard heave to receiver Donnie Corley on the final play of the game.

• Leland sweeps the Class D volleyball title match 3-0 over Battle Creek St. Philip ... ending a string of nine straight titles for St. Phil, the 10th longest national streak in history.

• Davison’s Taylor Davis becomes only the fourth person in MHSAA Girls Bowling history to roll a 300 game in the Singles portion of the tournament ... and the first ever in the championship match.

• The Upper Peninsula’s Hancock HS wins the Division 3 ice hockey title in its first trip to the Final since 2000 ... a trip funded in part from a “Go Fund Me” web page that raised $6,620 from 99 donors in two days.

• Junior Kierra Fletcher of Warren Cousino carries her team to the Class A girls basketball championship with 27 points in the Final ... after scoring 37 of her team’s 60 points in the Semifinals and totaling 198 during eight tournament games.

That’s just a sampling of the magic from last fall and winter.

These moments shine through the current challenges and the unseen future that awaits us as they always have. The uniforms and faces are different, but the tournaments have always yielded the fruits of our labors, and the memories for our mental scrapbooks.

PHOTO: Leland's volleyball team hoists its Class D championship trophy last fall at Kellogg Arena. 

Lansing Catholic Closes Season With Memorable Victory Close to Home

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 18, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Lansing Catholic girls basketball team took a short drive to end a long wait.

Playing just three miles from their high school, the Cougars defeated Frankenmuth 43-29 Saturday at the Breslin Center to win the MHSAA Division 2 Final. It was the first Finals title for the program since 1995.

“It felt like homecourt advantage a little bit,” Lansing Catholic senior guard Hannah Pricco said. “Our bus trip wasn’t super long. It just kind of felt like we were coming to our own court.”

The Cougars treated it that way, dominating from the beginning of the matchup in their first Finals trip since that 1995 title. They scored the game’s first 11 points and never looked back.

The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke.“This is, as you can imagine, extremely surreal,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “You’re going through literally every emotion on the bench, especially in a game like that. Frankenmuth is making such a great comeback, and we knew they were going to fight to the end. To go through the anger and sadness and happiness, and now it’s over and we’ve won it. It’s just been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I can’t describe the pride I have in these girls.”

It was the second meeting between the two teams, with Lansing Catholic taking the first 74-42 on Feb. 2. But Reid wasn’t going to let her team come in overconfident.

“They didn’t get here by accident,” Reid said. “They’re in the state championship because they’re playing their best ball of the year. We played them a month and a half ago. … We’re a totally different team, and we knew they were a totally different team. We knew they had been playing some really good basketball, and it didn’t matter at all what that first outcome was. We knew this was going to be a battle.”

Lansing Catholic (24-5) never trailed, and led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Leah Richards led the Cougars with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Anna Richards had 14 points. Gabby Halliwill added seven.

The Cougars were spurred by their defense throughout, holding Frankenmuth to 9 of 36 shooting from the field and forcing 13 turnovers.

“For us, defensively, we had to switch it up,” Reid said. “We had to keep switching up between man and zone. They were making adjustments and we couldn’t really sit in one thing for too long; they got comfortable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff always making adjustments. We had to continue to switch things up defensively and try to hopefully make their shooters second-guess their shot, or maybe not know where we were coming from.”

Frankenmuth (25-3) didn’t go away, despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the game. 

That was helped by Lansing Catholic shooting 1 of 11 from the field in the third quarter, and going scoreless for the final 5:26 of the frame.

Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.The Eagles cut the lead to seven with 2:45 to play on a steal and layup from Clare Conzelmann, but never got closer.

“There was always belief no matter what detriment we got ourselves in,” Frankenmuth senior Lexi Boyke said. “I wouldn’t want to choose any other girls to play with and be in with at that point. I think we fought back and really prided ourselves on, ‘We can still do it.’ We didn’t stop fighting until the end.”

Lansing Catholic always figured Frankenmuth would make a run to get into the game, but was ready when it came.

“We knew they were going to make runs, we knew we weren’t going to hold them to seven points the whole game,” Anna Richards said. “We knew in the third quarter they were going to score, so we just had to stay composed, work the ball around on offense to get the good shots that we wanted.”

Boyke, who scored Frankenmuth’s first 10 points and was its only scorer well into the third quarter, finished with 16. She also reached 1,000 career points in the game, and had six rebounds, while Izzy Bernthal had seven.

Frankenmuth was making its first Finals appearance since winning the Class C title in 1996, one year after Lansing Catholic. 

“That’s a really good Lansing Catholic team, and you’ve seen that from their postseason run and beating an undefeated West Catholic team, and tonight finishing their season off with a state championship. So, congratulations to them,” Frankenmuth coach Joe Jacobs said. “I’m super proud of our kids. They didn’t quit tonight. They could have. … Fun experience, one that we want to treasure forever, but the motivation to come back again is here after tonight’s loss.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lansing Catholic celebrates its Division 2 championship Saturday night at Breslin Center. (Middle) The Cougars’ Anna Richards (10) attempts to get a shot up over Frankenmuth’s Lexi Boyke. (Below) Tessa Roe (12) works to get past Clare Conzelmann and to the basket.