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ALL-FINALS TEAM: The top 10 performances from the MHSAA girls basketball finals

By: Matthew B. Mowery, March 26, 2019, 2:15 pm

After the dust has settled from the finals at Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena, with four divisional champions crowned for the first time this season (swapping from the old class system), it was clear that a group of players had their brightest moments on the big stage. Here are 10 of the best performances from the weekend of play:


Danielle Salenbien, Jr. G, Adrian Lenawee Christian — The primary ball-handler for the Cougars, the elder Salenbien sister took on the role as leading scorer in the final two games, hitting for 25 points on 5-for-10 shooting in the Division 4 semifinal vs. Fowler, then adding 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting in the D4 title-game win vs. St. Ignace. She was also 17-for-20 from the free-throw line in the two games.


Emily Coveyou, Sr. F, St. Ignace — Despite battling through exertion compartment syndrome that has left her at less than 70 percent, Coveyou continued to be the primary source of offense for the Saints — as she has all season, averaging 22.9 points per game. She notched 20 points on 8-for-19 shooting in the 48-44 D4 semifinal win over Kingston, then had 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting in the D4 title-game loss to Lenawee Christian, grabbing eight rebounds in each.


Bree Salenbein, Soph., F, Adrian Lenawee Christian — Despite getting the lion’s share of the defensive attention, the younger Salenbien sister had 17 points, nine rebounds vs. Fowler, and 17 points, 13 rebounds vs. St. Ignace. She also chipped in with 10 assists between the two games, helping out with the ball-handling duties.


Ellie Droste, Jr. G, Pewamo-Westphalia — The jackrabbit of a point guard for the Pirates was critical in breaking pressure from both Ypsi Arbor Prep in the semis and Flint Hamady in the finals, but she added 15 points, four rebounds, four assists in the first game, and 18 points in the nail-biting title game, despite foul trouble. She was 17-for-22 from the free-throw line in the two games.


A.J. Ediger, Soph. F, Hamilton — All you need is her stat line from the Hawkeyes’ 71-66 loss to Freeland in the D2 semifinals, when the 6-foot-2 sophomore had 33 points on 11-for-20 shooting (and 11 of 14 from the free-throw line) to go with 17 rebounds. The Falcons had no answer for her, other than to outscore her.


Alyssa Argyle, Sr., G/F, Freeland — We could’ve picked any of the Falcons’ starters, and been OK, but it was Argyle whose 3-pointer with 4:30 left in the come-from-behind semifinal win over Hamilton gave Freeland the lead for good. She had 17 points, 11 assists in the 71-66 win, passing the 1,000-point plateau for her career, then had 18 points and five rebounds in the loss to Edison in the championship game.


Rickea Jackson, Sr. F, Detroit Edison — Having already picked up Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year, BCAM Miss Basketball and McDonald’s All-American honors, you couldn’t blame Jackson if she took a couple of games as a break. But, nah … she dropped 26 points with eight rebounds in the semifinal win over Haslett then added 28 points (on 11-for-16 shooting) against Freeland in the final game of her high school career.


Alyza Winston, Sr. G, Muskegon — After the Big Reds missed their first 18 shots of the semifinals, falling behind Southfield A&T by 21 points in the first half, it was Winston’s speed that helped bring them back, garnering the bulk of their 20 fast-break points in the game. She had 25 points in the loss, and assists on the final two buckets by the Big Reds that cut the deficit to two points, 52-50, with 53 seconds remaining.


Moira Joiner, Sr. G, Saginaw Heritage — It wasn’t until the stat sheets were brought into the postgame news conference that Joiner knew she had a triple-double — 14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists — in the semifinal win over Wayne Memorial. Joiner was 4-for-9 shooting from 3-point range in the championship game, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, just missing another triple-double.


Shine Strickland-Gills, Sr. F, Saginaw Heritage — Despite foul difficulties in the semifinal, Strickland-Gills had 15 points, 12 rebounds for the Hawks, then had 16 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and six assists in the championship game win over Southfield A&T.


Honorable mention:

Freeland’s Kadyn Blanchard had 23 points, seven rebounds, four steals vs. Hamilton, 16 points, four rebounds, four steals vs. Edison.

Wayne Memorial’s Jeanae Terry had 26 points, six steals, five rebounds in a 58-55 loss to Heritage in the D1 semifinals.

Southfield A&T’s Cheyenne McEvans had 12 points, four rebounds, four assists in A&T’s 54-50 win over Muskegon in the semifinals, then had 13 points, five rebounds in the title-game loss to Heritage.