Girls Basketball Preseason Top 25: Detroit Edison tops the list as the Class C champions return entire roster
Detroit – Last season not only did Detroit Edison win its first state title, the Pioneers were also considered to have some of the top underclassmen regardless of classification.
Edison (21-5) won the Class C title by defeating Pewamo-Westphalia, 46-44, in the final. Edison coach Monique Brown returns all five starters plus the state’s top freshman.
Edison, in just its seventh season with a varsity program, is State Champs’ top team in the preseason.
“We have to show (last season) wasn’t a fluke,” Brown said. “We’ll be so much better this season. They all know me now. We get to continue to put some things in because they’re all coming back.”
That’s right. Edison had no seniors on the team last season.
The Pioneers are led by junior Rickea Jackson (6-3). Jackson averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds, and could well be a Miss Basketball candidate in 2019.
Taking over at the point will be freshman Damiya Hagemann (5-7). Hagemann already has received scholarship offers from a number of schools including Michigan and Ohio State. A fine ball handler, Hagemann can play a variety of positions.
Gabrielle Elliott (5-10) is a sophomore who can be physical inside and is able to use her athleticism to be effective on the perimeter.
Shaulana Wagner played the point last season and will likely play the shooting guard. She had 12 points five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the state final.
Sophomore Daija Tyson suffered a knee injury early in the season and is expected to be yet another fine perimeter player.
Ashley Primas does all the dirty work. She averaged eight rebounds last season and she signed with Tennessee State. Another senior, Oretha Humphries, is the only player to be in the program for four seasons. She’ll likely play for a Division III school next season.
It’s difficult to find a weakness on this team. Brown will have plenty depth.
2. Saginaw Heritage (20-2), A: Coach Vonnie DeLong returns four starters including junior Shine Strickland-Gills (6-2) who moved to Georgia with family members this past summer but has since returned and is attending classes at Heritage. Strickland-Gills is an awesome post player who has been offered a scholarship by Central Michigan and Miami (OH). Only one senior will start and that’s Jessie Bicknell, a 5-9 guard who signed with Detroit. Mo Joiner (5-9) was all-state last season as a sophomore and she’s a player who can score from anywhere on the court. Marquette offered Joiner a scholarship. DeLong likens junior Mallory McCartney (5-6) to Bicknell, just a shorter version. The fifth starter could be Lauren Reed, a 5-1 sophomore, who has shown considerable improvement since last season. DeLong has six seniors and she’ll likely go nine deep.
3. Detroit Country Day (26-1), B: The defending Class B champions have a starting five that can match any team in the state. How well coach Frank Orlando develops his reserves will greatly determine whether the Yellowjackets repeat. Kaela Webb (5-6) averaged 14 points, she signed with Providence and is likely a Miss Basketball candidate. Maxine Moore (5-11) signed with Western Michigan and she averaged 10 points last season. The next three top players are juniors. Maddie Novak (5-10) transferred from Lake Orion and she is eligible after sitting out last semester. Jasmine Powell (5-7) is comfortable playing the point or the shooting guard. Adrian Folks (6-0) is one of those players who isn’t timid when she gets near the basket and is solid rebounder.
4. Wayne Memorial (17-5), A: The Zebras return all five starters from a team that lost in a regional semifinal to Belleville. Camree Clegg signed with Clemson is likely a Miss Basketball candidate. Jeanae Terry (5-10) is a versatile junior who has 26 scholarship offers including ones from Indiana, Illinois, Florida and Nebraska. Coach Jarvis Mitchell calls junior Jayah Hicks (6-0) “my Draymond Green”. Hicks plays with a lot of energy. Sophomore Makailah Zeigler-Griggs (6-0) has received scholarship offers from Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Xavier. Zeigler-Griggs is physical player near the basket. Samiyah Hoskin (5-10) is a junior who plays the wing and is one of Mitchell’s top defenders. Junior Jasmine Elder (5-11) could see starter’s minutes as a reserve.
5. East Kentwood (26-2), A: The Falcons’ run to the state final last season caught many by surprise but not coach Jimmy Carter. “I knew we were the best team,” he said. “Our average margin of victory in the O-K (Conference) Red Division was 20 points, and we were picked for fourth.” Carter returns five of his top eight players including seniors Taia Smith (6-0) and Corinne Jemison (6-3). Smith is being recruited by Division II schools and Jemison was all-state in track (shot put, discus) and is said to be a Division I recruit for volleyball. The best player is likely junior Alona Blackwell (5-10). Blackwell is a terrific 3-point shooter and has received 13 Division I scholarship offers, which include schools such as Dayton, Eastern Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State. Junior Mariah Barnes (5-5) will play the point and, like Jemison, is a fine track athlete. Jemison’s sister, Rayvon (6-0), is a sophomore and she’ll play the three. The Falcons will be aided by Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills transfer Shana Ewine and freshman Kliese Christopher (6-0).
6. Williamston (24-2), B: Along with Country Day, Williamston is one of the favorites to win the title in Class B. Few teams can match the inside-outside game Maddie Watters (5-7) and Allison Peplowski (6-2) present. Both are four-year varsity players, Watters signed with Western Michigan; Peplowski South Dakota. Two other starters return for coach Pete Cool and they are sophomores Kenzie Lewis (5-10) who plays like a senior and who has received much interest from Division I schools, and Page Basore (6-2). Despite her height, Basore, a track athlete, runs the floor as if she were a guard. “(Lewis) is a great floor leader,” Cool said. “She had a number of triple doubles (rebounds, assists and steals) last season.” The future is bright for Williamston as the school officials were able to sponsor a freshmen team for the first time in years.
7. Flint Carman-Ainsworth (18-4), A: The Cavaliers return four starters and few teams will be able to match their athleticism. Destiny Strother is a 5-9 junior who averaged 15 points as a freshman and 17.9 as a sophomore. She committed to Marquette. Xeryia Tartt (5-9) is one of four sophomores who could start and she’s been offered a scholarship by Oakland. Junior Jasia Caldwell (6-1) gives the Cavaliers a post presence and look for Goodrich transfer Aaliyah McQueen (5-9) to be a force once she becomes eligible in January. Marquette and Michigan State are among the 12 schools to offer McQueen a scholarship. Sophomores Chenelle King (5-6) and Jessiana Aaron (5-6) will be in the rotation. This program won its first league title two seasons ago. Expectations are much higher this season.
8. Detroit King (23-2), A: The Crusaders lost in a region final and return three starters. Of the top six players, four are seniors. The top two are Jordan Lewis (5-10) and Erica Whitley-Jackson (5-11). Lewis averaged 14.5 points and signed with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Whitley-Jackson is a terrific perimeter shooter and, though she hasn’t signed, coach William Winfield said a number of Division I schools are recruiting her. Del’Janae Williams (5-9) is one of the top juniors in the state. Winfield said Penn State has offered her a scholarship. Another returning starter is senior Rasheeda Mitchell (5-10). Senior Keih Dancy (5-11) and junior Danielle Camp (5-10) will compete for a starting position. Winfield enters his 37th season as a head coach and he said he has a lot of athletic players though they lack some size.
9. East Lansing (21-3), A: The Trojans return all five starters including one of the state’s top players, Jaida Hampton (5-11). Hampton signed with Wichita State and is a complete player. As good as Hampton is, the Trojans’ success depends greatly upon the play of sophomore point guard Sanaya Gregory (5-3). If Gregory plays well, East Lansing should make a long tournament run. Two other sophomores, Ahlura Lofton (5-8) and Aaliyah Nye (5-11), are returning starters. Amelia McNutt (5-3) suffered a knee injury in the spring and should be ready to go in January. Like McNutt, Carolyn Heck (5-8) is a senior and she could start until McNutt’s return. Senior Steffi Kracko (5-11), a transfer from Lansing Catholic Central, will be eligible in January.
10. Macomb Dakota (19-6), A: The Cougars reached the quarterfinals and they return three starters. Tara Bieniewicz (5-11) is a tremendous 3-point shooter who will attend Trine (IN) University. Cameron Grant (6-1) is one of the state’s top sophomores and her perimeter game has improved significantly. Grant has received numerous Division I scholarship offers. Junior Taylor Williams (6-2) plays forward but she can play on the perimeter as well. Bradley and Detroit have offered Williams a scholarship. Freshman Jaimee Moshenko (5-7) could start at the point. The top junior varsity players from a season ago include juniors Olivia Dameron and Kaitlyn Knapp, and sophomore Dena Moyer. This team has size but it’s one that can play fast, too.
11. Southfield for the Arts and Technology (22-5), A: Four starters return including three who started every game. Cheyenne McEvans (5-10) is a sophomore who averaged 13 points and seven rebounds. She can play the point or small forward. Alexis Johnson (5-11) is one of the state’s top juniors and she averaged 15 points and eight rebounds. D’Layna Holliman (5-7) is a four-year starter and she averaged eight points, five rebounds and four assists. Shawna Manning (5-7) is another senior and she’ll likely play on the wing. Although the starting five lacks height, coach Michele Marshall has taller players just waiting to get their shot off the bench.
12. Clarkston (17-6), A: Coach Christine Rogers has veteran team. She has six seniors, four returning starters and a fifth who started part time. Kayla Luchenbach (6-1) is a three-year starter who signed with Oakland. Look for Luchenbach to play away from the basket more this season. Maddie Beck (6-0) averaged 18.5 points and can score in a variety of ways. Molly Nicholson (6-2) will play the post and she’s Clarkston’s top shot blocker. Kiana Ayotte (5-0) is a quick point guard who keeps her turnovers to a minimum. The top underclassman is likely Taylor Eaton, a 5-7 sophomore, who has shown the most improvement since last season. Two freshmen will be in an eight-player rotation.
13. Port Huron Northern (17-4), A: Three starters return plus a fourth who played starter’s minutes. The junior class is strong but look for Sami Klink (5-7), a four-year varsity player, to be the leader. The other starters could all be juniors. Olivia Ramsey (5-6) is a three-year varsity player, Madison Adair (5-5) is a smooth ball-handler who’s back at the point and center Sydney Koppinger (6-1) is solid inside. Sarah White (6-2) is athletic and a good leaper. Riley Shagna (6-0) played point guard early in her career and the ball-handling skills she learned then makes her a difficult matchup at the power forward spot. The junior varsity hasn’t lost a game the past two seasons.
14. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (27-1), C: Scott Stine, an assistant last season, takes over as head coach replacing Rod Wells who switches places and now will be the top assistant. Arbor Prep will be led by the Petree sisters, seniors Lasha and Jala, and junior Mahri. Lasha Petree (6-0), who will play the two guard, averaged 10.5 points and she signed with Bradley. Jala (5-8) is a wing and Mahri (5-10) is active near the basket and is accurate from the 3-point range. Senior Kelli Davis returns after having suffered a knee injury and the Gators will be aided by two transfers, Sasha Thomas (5-5) from Ann Arbor Huron and Kashrya Jackson (5-11) from Country Day.
15. Flushing (24-3), A: Coach Larry Ford enters his 14th season and he has just one starter back in senior Shelby Morrow (5-8), the team’s leading scorer (12 points) last season. But there are other players with experience. Junior point guard Thailyia Christensen was the first reserve and junior Maddie Morrison (6-2) is an athletic shot blocker who played 12-to-14 minutes a game. Christensen is an in-your-face defender. Ford will need senior Mackenzie Pemberton (6-0) to clog the middle. Three juniors (Julia Hagler, Denazja Jackson and Sutton Bate) off of the junior varsity will be asked to contribute in a variety of ways.
16. Grand Rapids Christian (17-5), A: The O-K Conference Gold Division champions will have a new coach (Crystal Strickland) and a solid cast of returners. How well Christian plays defense and limits the opposition to one shot will greatly determine its success. Edecia Beck (6-1) is the Eagles’ top player and she signed with Ohio. Beck is a solid post presence but also has the ability to run the floor. Senior guard Bri Cook (5-8) also returns and her offensive game has greatly improved. Moving to the post is freshman Mady Tillman (6-2) and sophomore Rory Pruis (5-10) will play the shooting guard spot. Christian lost to state finalist East Kentwood, 51-49, in a district final.
17. Warren Cousino (24-3), A: Coach Mike Lee has five players who played on the 2016 state championship team. “We have a nice group of players,” Lee said. “We have sophomores who are 59 and 5-10. We haven’t had that before.” Junior Kate McArthur is the best of the bunch. She averaged 15.7 points and has committed to Clemson. There are three seniors and Sophie Moore (5-9) is one of those who might break into the starting lineup. The top sophomores are Olivia Jolisse (5-10) and Rachel Adewusi (5-9). “This group is ready,” Lee said. “They’re ready to prove themselves.”
18. Midland Dow (21-4), A: Dow lost to Flushing in a regional final and the Chargers return one starter, junior Molly Davis (5-7, who committed to Central Michigan. Coach Kyle Theisen has just one senior on the team and that’s Quin McCaffrey (5-10), a three-year varsity player, who will be counted on to contribute considerably. Junior Maizie Taylor (5-7) suffered a knee injury in June and is expected to return in early February. Sophomore Haley Jaster (6-1) is a transfer from Midland Bullock Creek and she’ll be eligible in January. Two freshmen will see considerable playing time and they are Gada Garner at the point and Katelyn Murray who is more of a shooting guard. Dow might get off to a slow start but should finish fast.
19. Okemos (15-8), A: Kristen Rasmussen enters her second season as Okemos’ head coach and she’ll have three starters back from a team that lost to Mason in a district final. Laya Hartman (5-11) is one of the top players in the Class of 2019. She’s been offered a scholarship by Tennessee and most of the Big 10 schools. Sophomore Jasmine Clerkley (5-10) is accurate from the 3-point range and Michigan State has offered her a scholarship. Maddie Sermak is another sophomore and she’ll play the point. Junior Alma Cooper is a transfer from Mason and she’ll have an opportunity to start along with sophomore Kelsey Henry, junior Bergin Robinson and Sermak’s sister, Lexi, who’s a freshman.
20. DeWitt (21-2), A: The Panthers got beat by East Lansing in a district final and they return three starters. That’s a good nucleus but DeWitt lost its backcourt who were outstanding defenders. Maddie Peterson (5-7) started eight games as a shooting guard and will move to the point. The three starters are back led by Grace George (5-10), who signed with Wayne State, and two juniors, Annie McIntosh (5-9) and Sydney Mills (5-11). Lily Stephan (5-7) will start at the two guard and is part of a strong junior class.
21. Grand Rapids South Christian (13-10), B: The Sailors were 8-4 in the O-K Conference Gold Division and they return seven players. South Christian return seven players and all five starters. Sydney Cleary is the starting point guard. A 5-8 junior, Cleary sees the floor well and last ended last season with 122 assists. MacKenzie Selvius (5-5) is the shooting guard but will also play the point. She shot 33 percent from the 3-point range and she signed to play soccer at Spring Arbor next season. Senior Mariel Bruxvoort (6-1) is back at forward and she’s a four-year varsity player. This will be Mariel’s fourth season on the varsity and she averaged 15.6 points last season. Bruxvoort signed with Iowa as a track athlete. South Christian will be a tall team. Bethany Lanning (5-11) is a power forward and Gabrielle Timmer (6-2) is back at center. Timmer averaged 8.3 rebounds and 13 points per game. Emily Brinks (6-0) and Kendra Kuiper (5-7) are two other top juniors.
22. Haslett (13-9), B: Three starters return including 6-3 sophomore Iamania Baker (no relation to coach Ross Baker). Baker averaged 12 points and eight rebounds. Coach Baker will be able to take some pressure off of his post player with a number of fine perimeter players. Junior Ella McKinney (5-9) averaged nine points and senior Teagan Woodward averaged 4.5, and both are accurate 3-point shooters. Sophomore Olivia Green (5-10) was predominantly a post player last season and she’s added to her overall game with a fine midrange shot. Senior Taylor Rahl (5-6) will play the point. Coach Baker has depth particularly on the perimeter.
23. Muskegon (12-10), A: The Big Reds return two starters plus a transfer from Muskegon Mona Shores, Alyza Winston, a 5-4 junior. The returning starters are junior Diynasti Dowell (5-9) and senior Daz’Shay Day (5-4). Dowell averaged 8.6 points, six rebounds and 1.7 steals. Coach Rodney Walker said Dowell is one of the hardest working players he’s coached. Day averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Junior Brionne Crews could start at center and junior Bri Alexander is an on-ball defender at the point guard spot. Day’s sister, Da’Shonna, is a sophomore and Walker said she is the team’s top defender. Winston is a player who plays with a high motor. She’s super quick with the ball and has been offered a scholarship by a number of Division I schools.
24. East Grand Rapids (17-4), A: Three starters return for the Pioneers led by Micki Ivy, a 5-10 senior who has yet to commit to a university. Ivy is a strong and athletic player who possesses a high skill level on the perimeter. Olivia Brown (5-8) is a junior point guard who shot 39.3 percent from the 3-point range a season ago. Hillsdale has offered Brown a scholarship. Brown’s sister, Jillian, is a 5-10 freshman who has received a scholarship offer from Eastern Michigan. The glue to this talented team is senior Ella Gourley (5-4). Gourley has the knack for making the right play at the right time. Junior Mary Schumar (5-10) saw playing time last season and could be the fifth starter.
25. Detroit Mumford (18-8), B: The Mustangs are coming off one of their best seasons as the lost in the league final to King and to Country Day in a quarterfinal. Four starters return led by junior point guard Tia Ernest (5-5) and senior Zamaria Pope (6-3) who has received interest from Division I and II schools. Ernest was second on the team in scoring (12 points) and Pope is coming off of her first season playing competitively. Junior Adoreya Williams (5-6) averaged eight points last season and she’ll be called on to score more this season. Twin sophomores Sequoia and Jaquoia Jackson are tenacious defenders.