Girls Basketball Preseason Top 25 Team Rankings: Arbor Prep takes the top spot, Cousino is No. 2
Ypsilanti – Ypsilanti Arbor Prep reached the quarterfinals in 2014, the state semifinals in 2015 and won the Class C title last season.
The question remains what more can coach Rod Wells’ program accomplish this season.
As it turns out the answer is simple. Win the Class B title. Arbor Prep moved up a class this season.
Arbor Prep’s program has taken off like a rocket since Wells took over in 2011. Nastassja Chambers, who helped lead the Gators to the title last season, graduated this past spring and is now at Wayne State. Chambers was a steadying influence throughout her career at Arbor Prep and helped set the standard.
Four starters return from that title team including Wells’ daughter, Ro’zhane Wells, a 5-6 point guard who signed with Saginaw Valley State. Wells averaged 12 points and four assists last season and she is one of many fine players on a team that State Champs has named as the No. 1 team in the preseason.
“We’ll be very balanced,” coach Wells said. “We can be better, if we show more effort.”
Arbor Prep’s record over the last three seasons is 69-10. The Gators were 25-2 last season and this will be a senior-led team but there are a number of underclassmen, one in particular, who will contribute significantly.
The Gators will be enhanced by the three Petree sisters who transferred from Salem. Lasha and Jala are juniors, though they are not twins, and Mahri is a sophomore. Lasha Petree is 6-foot tall and is, at this point, the best of the three. Lasha is a fine perimeter shooter and has been offered a scholarship by Bradley, Oakland and Western Michigan.
Adrienne Anderson (5-9) is the heart and soul of the defense. Anderson is tenacious defensively and she signed with Ferris State.
Cydney Williams (5-11) is a strong inside player who led the team in rebounds per game (10). Defenders can’t sag too much on Williams as her 3-point percentage (35 percent) would indicate. She signed with Wayne State.
The fourth returning starter is the tall and lanky Kayla Knight (6-0). Her strength lies on the defensive end and Knight can defend the post as well as the wing. She signed with U-M Dearborn.
And lastly there’s Lauryn Carroll (5-6), a senior who adds a spark to the offense.
Arbor Prep has an adventurous schedule once again and the Gators will play such state-ranked teams as Midland Dow and Muskegon Mona Shores.
2. Warren Cousino (23-4), A: The Patriots are the new powerhouse and one can point to Kierra Fletcher as the main reason. Fletcher (5-9) is one of the leading candidates for the Miss Basketball award who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds as a junior. She signed with Georgia Tech. Coach Mike Lee lost just one starter from his championship team and that spot with be filled by senior Erin McArthur (5-9) who did not play last season due to an injury. She was on varsity her freshman and sophomore seasons. Another valuable senior is Rachel Hayes. Hayes (5-7) won’t score much but she’ll muscle her way inside for rebounds and play on the top in Lee’s zone. Sophomore Mackenzie Cook (5-3) returns at the point and fellow sophomore Kate McArthur (5-6), Erin’s sister, is an excellent 3-point shooter. The junior class is strong and there’s plenty of depth.
3. Hudsonville (23-4), A: The Eagles started two sophomores, a freshman and a junior last season and reached the state semifinals. Junior point guard Kasey DeSmit (5-7) is the leader, a three-year starter, and one who set a school record for assists as a freshman. Sophomore Addison Irish (5-9) is the team’s top defender and sophomore Arinn King (5-4) started every game and is the type of player who’s rarely out of position. Coach Casey Glass returns two solid players in the post. Chloe Guingrich is a 6-foot center who signed with Oakland. Guingrich plays well with her back to the basket and she averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in the seven games that led up to the semifinals. Junior Sydney Irish (5-10) played in all but two games and her specialty is rebounding. Senior Dakota Spears (5-9) stated the first four games before suffering a knee injury.
4. Port Huron Northern (21-4), A: Four starters return from a team that defeated Cousino twice before losing to St. Johns in a quarterfinal. Bree Bauer (6-0) is a post player who can cause matchup problems with her ability to shoot from the perimeter. She signed with Lake Erie. Kendyl Keyes (5-8) is a four-year varsity player who missed much of last season with a knee injury. Jenna Koppinger (5-10) is another senior, one who brings energy and the temperament to do the things that don’t show up in the box score. Sami Klink (5-8) will be the lone junior in the starting five and she’s adept at going to the basket. Kathleen O’Connor (5-4) will play the point. “We’ve had success recently,” coach Mark Dickinson said. “We play a tough schedule and our players believe in themselves. And our depth is real good.” Northern’s junior varsity was 20-0 last season.
5. East Lansing (19-7), A: The Trojans lost in the quarterfinals to Hudsonville and return four starters. Coach Rob Smith enters his 15th season and his junior class is outstanding. Jaida Hampton (5-11) and Aazhenii Nye (5-9) each have received numerous Division I scholarship offers. Amelia McNutt (5-5) is a shooting guard who was named all-conference last season. Deasia Miracle (6-0) will start at center and is the lone senior on the team. Smith will start a freshman, Sanaya Gregory (5-5), at the point and he said Gregory will soon be the next star in the greater Lansing area. Devyn Colon (5-7) started a few games and Carolyn Colon (5-9), the team’s top 3-point shooter, could have a breakout season. Nye has twin sisters who are on varsity as freshmen.
6. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (23-3), B: C.C. lost in a quarterfinal to Marshall and the Cougars return nine of their top 10 players. Sophia Karasinski (5-9) and Kyra Bussell (6-1) both signed with Central Michigan. Karasinski can create her own shot and Bussell is a post player who can shoot the 3-pointer. Myka Cromwell (5-11) is a lefthander who will play the shooting guard spot. She signed with Oakland. Shaniya Huggins (5-6) plays the point and she signed with Davenport. Senior Tess Ens (6-0) started part time and is a four-sport athlete. Jakarri Alven (5-8) is a sophomore who excels in track. Junior Abigal Tepper (5-7) could be the fifth starter.
7. Detroit Country Day (24-2), B: A state semifinalist last season, the Yellowjackets return four starters led by Destiny Pitts (5-10) who signed with Minnesota. Pitts is outstanding on the perimeter and inside. Tylar Bennett, a 6-3 center, will attend Clemson next season and Kayla Webb, a 5-5 junior guard with tremendous quickness, committed to Marquette. Sophomore Jasmine Powell (5-6) will play the point and will take on more of a leadership role. Maxine Moore (5-11) is a power forward who is being recruited by Mid-American Conference schools. This is Frank Orlando’s 50th season as head coach and the Yellowjackets will again be a top contender for a state title.
8. Detroit King (24-2), A: The Crusaders came so close to winning a title (67-65 loss to Cousino) and will be in the hunt again as coach William Winfield loses just two seniors, both of whom started. Seniors Tia Tedford (5-8) and Alicia Norman (5-4) are among the state’s top players. Norman is especially quick. Look for the other starters to be juniors. Jordan Lewis (5-8) had eight points and 10 rebounds in the final. Erica Whitley-Jackson had six points and seven rebounds in that final. Sophomore Del’Janae Williams (5-8) could have a breakout season.
9. Midland Dow (19-4), A: The Chargers return four starters from a team that lost to Saginaw Heritage in a district final. Ellie Taylor is one of the best 3-point shooters and she signed with St. Louis. Kaylee Wasco (6-2) is a post player who has incredible foot work inside and signed with Binghamton (NY). She also has a nice offhand (left) baby hook. Molly Davis (5-8) shot 42 percent from the 3-point range and she’s just a sophomore, as is Taylor’s sister, Maizie. This Taylor is also a fine 3-point shooter and is more of a natural point guard. Nadia Atton (6-1) could be the fifth starter and she signed with Northwood for volleyball. Atton is fast for her size and also plays travel volleyball along with basketball.
10. Southfield for the Arts and Technology (first season), A: Questions surround a program that is the result of the merger of Southfield High and Southfield-Lathrup. Coach Michele Marshall ran a successful program at Southfield-Lathrup and she has three players from her former team joining nine from Southfield. “It’s interesting,” Marshall said of the merger. “It takes a while for something like this to come together.” Deja Church (5-9) is a good starting point. One of the state’s best players, Church averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals, and she signed with Michigan. What the Warriors lack in heights this season they’ll make up with quickness. Freshman Cheyenne McEvans (5-7) is “fabulous” according to Marshall and will likely share time at the point with senior Tylar Washington. Sophomore Rizaria Franklin could be the team’s top reserve. Sophomore Alexis Johnson (5-10) averaged 12 points and is a Division I recruit. Shawna Manning (5-7) averaged seven points playing for Marshall last season and junior D’Layna Holliman will start after averaging 10 points and three assists at Southfield.
11. Saginaw Heritage (22-2), A: the Hawks reached a regional final and they return four starters. Courtney McInerney (6-2) is a three-year starter who signed with Davenport but Heritage’s top player is a sophomore. Mo Joyner (5-9) averaged 13 points last season and she’s a player who can control the game on the perimeter and inside. This will still be a young team as two other sophomores will start, Mallory McCartney (5-6) and Shine Strickland (6-1). Junior Jesse Bicknell (5-9) will play the wing and share time at point guard.
12. Birmingham Marian (18-7), A: A quarterfinalist last season, the Mustangs return four starters and expectations are high. Sophomore Olivia Moore (5-8) is a strong point guard who could soon blossom into one of the top players in the Detroit area. Madeline Laurencelle (5-10) will likely spend more time near the basket this season because of the depth at the guard position. This will be an athletic team and the inside presence of Uche Ike (5-11) and Isabelle Hayes (6-1) will make the Mustangs one of the taller teams in the area. Lauren Montalbano is a defensive specialist and two seniors, Hannah Redute and Maria Kaschalk, will likely share time as the fifth starter.
13. Dearborn Heights Robichaud (18-7), B: Coach Jason Wilkins enters his sixth season and he has four starters returning from a team that lost in the quarterfinals. Kamaria McDaniel (5-9) is a three-year starter and she signed with Penn State. McDaniel played just 13 games last season due to an injury. Kayla Brown (5-7) is the point guard and she’s a scorer. Brown averaged 24 points and signed with Detroit. Terria Fisher (5-7) and Monae Palmer (5-9) are also seniors who started last season. Fisher is a defensive specialist and Palmer averaged 13 points and eight rebounds.
14. Wayne Memorial (16-5), A: The Zebras were 0-21 two seasons ago. Junior Camree Clegg (5-5) is the main reason for the turnaround. Clegg averaged 23.4 points and she committed to Clemson. The lanky Amara Chikwe (6-0) averaged 11.5 points and five blocks. She signed with Youngstown State. Mya Garrett (6-3) will be the only other senior who will significant playing time and she won’t be ready until mid-December (knee injury). The underclassmen is where the bulk of the talent lies. Sophomore Jeanae Terry (5-9) boasts a high skill level. She averaged 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Then there’s Maikala Zigler-Griggs. This freshman is 6-foot tall, will start and has been offered a scholarship by Clemson.
15. Muskegon Mona Shores (21-4), A: The Sailors could have the state’s top backcourt. Jordan Walker (5-7) is a magician with the ball and she can score (averaged 20 points). Sophomore Alyza Winston (5-6) can go to her left or right equally well and she’s been offered a scholarship by a number of schools including Michigan State. The top post players are Rileigh Wehler (5-11) and Veronica Kastelic (5-11), both of whom are juniors, and senior DeeDee Trotter (5-10). Wehler is a fine volleyball player and she brings athleticism to her game. Nia Miskel (5-9) is a sophomore who can go inside or out and is one of the team’s top defenders.
16. Macomb Dakota (13-8), A: Another dangerous team from the Macomb Area Conference Red Division, the Cougars return four starters led by three-year starter Emily Langolf (5-6) who’s a facilitator at the point. Seniors J’May Simmons (5-11) and Lauren Szalai (6-0) are experienced, and add aggressive style of play. Tera Bieniewicz (5-11) is a good perimeter shooter who averaged 10 points as a sophomore. Two new faces in the program could take this far in the tournament. Cam Grant, the daughter of Greg Grant (Clinton Township Clintondale, University of Detroit), is a 6-1 freshman who has the skill level to play the shooting guard. Sophomore Taylor Williams (6-0) is a transfer from New Baltimore Anchor Bay who will be eligible in January.
17. Northville (21-4), A: The Mustangs reached the quarterfinals last season and they return 10 varsity players including four starters. This is a balanced team with no superstars. Jessica Moorman (5-11) is a four-year starter who averaged 12.5 points. Moorman has long arms, shoots well from the perimeter and she’ll play for Hope College next season. Brook Adams (6-1) is another four-year varsity player and she’ll sometimes wander outside and shoot the 3-pointer. The next three top players are juniors. Roan Haines (5-8) is a versatile player with good court sense. Kendall Dillon (5-7) will again run the offense at the point and Jasmine Prince completes the three-guard offense. Coach Todd Gudith said his team has good chemistry and that expectations are high.
18. St. Johns (23-4), A: The Redwings reached the state semifinals and have two starters back led by junior point guard Maddie Maloney (5-7). A steadying force on the team, Maloney had 12 points and six assists in the semifinal. Senior Erika Ballinger (5-7) is the shooting guard and Maloney will look for her on the wing. Nina Bozzo is a 5-9 junior and will play inside much of the time out of necessity. Coach Mark Lasceski said his team will take advantage of their quickness and press. Juniors Alexis Sillman (5-7) and Olivia Moore (5-7) also saw playing time last season.
19. Canton (17-5), A: The Chiefs have four starters back and they intend to finish the job this season. Canton lost in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association and district final last season. Erin Hutt (5-11) led the team in scoring last season and she’ll play inside. Senior Brianna Finn (5-8) is the floor leader and she led the team in 3-pointers. Madison Wolfbauer (5-10) is an athlete. A Division I recruit in soccer, Wolfbauer averaged 12 rebounds and is the team’s top defender. Coach ??? Heitmeyer’s daughter, Alaina (5-6), plays the point and constantly looks for her teammates. Three or four other players will fill in as role players.
20. Lansing Waverly (14-8), A: Waverly will be strong in the front court led by 6-1 senior Alisia Smith (signed with Penn State) and 6-1 junior Malin Smith. The backcourt will be young but look for Maya Bennett, who saw extensive playing time there last season, to fill the gap. Forward Kieyana Parker is also expected to contribute.
21. Grand Rapids Christian (22-5), A: The Eagles lost four of their top six players to graduation but a solid core of players return. Edecia Beck (5-10) is one of the state’s top juniors. Beck can play every position and has been offered a scholarship by Western Michigan. Sydney Muller, the daughter of coach Charlotte Muller, is a 5-9 senior and the glue of the team. Senior Leah Singleton (5-11) rebounds well for her height and isn’t afraid to mix it up near the basket. Christian has a good mix of seniors (4) and underclassmen.
22. Hartland (15-5), A: The Eagles return all of their varsity players and this lineup will be greatly enhanced by 6-2 freshman Whitney Sollom. An athletic post player, Sollom is expected to start. Lexey Tobel (5-10) is the leader of this team and she signed with Detroit. Junior Graysen Cockerham (5-9) is another Division I prospect and she led the team in rebounds (6.5) last season. Senior Michelle (5-7) is a three-year starter at the point and she led the team in assists the last two seasons.
23. Belleville (19-5), A: The Tigers have a new coach (Belleville graduate Mariah Gordon) and they did not lose a player to graduation. Senior Victoria Perez (5-10) is quick, athletic and versatile. Junior Katie Sherwood (5-8) is a shooting guard who goes to the basket well. She committed to Wayne State. This is still a young team. Point guard Vanessa Franklin (5-1) and Raven Grantham (5-6) are both juniors. Franklin is a cerebral type of player and Grantham is quite the opposite. Her quickness allows her to defend well but she needs to understand her role and that of her teammates better. Chacyla Smith (5-10) is a post player who is a part of a sound sophomore class.
24. Flint Hamady (24-2), C: The loss to Ithaca in a quarterfinal still stings coach Keith Smith. With three starters back including one of the state’s top players in Krystal Rice (5-7), Hamady is once again one of teams to beat in Class C. Rice is an all-around player whose game mixes well with senior Deajah Cofield (5-7) and junior Sasha Penn (5-7) in Smith’s three-guard system. Look for freshman Aryana Naylor (6-2) or junior Danielle Tipton (6-1) to fill one starting position. Smith likes junior Jordan McKeller (5-8) too much to move her out of the lineup. McKeller is that type of player who will dive on the floor for loose balls and set that pick when no one else will.
25. Grand Rapids South Christian (25-3), B: The Sailors lost all five starters to graduation from a team that reached a state final but there is talent coming back. Junior forward Mariel Bruxvoort saw significant playing time as the top reserve. Senior center Courtney VanderHoning will provide a defensive presence. Coach Kim Legge enters her second season and will count on seniors like Abby Hulst and Sydnie Haines for leadership.