Marian’s repeat, St. Igance’s huge comeback are highlighted in a look back on the girls basketball finals
East Lansing – We had a number of firsts at the 41st girls basketball semifinals and finals this past weekend at the Breslin Center.
First there was Birmingham Marian winning back-to-back Class A titles for the first time.
Then Calumet surprised everyone, except those in the Keewanaw Peninsula, by winning its first state title. The Copper Kings, which never entered the top 10 rankings, upset No. 5-ranked Flint Hamady 57-49 in the Class C final.
St. Ignace LaSalle became just the second team in state-final history to come back from a 20-point deficit and win the title. The Saints defeated Pittsford, 64-60, in the Class D final.
For the first time in tournament history two teams from the Upper Peninsula, Calumet and St. Ignace, won titles in the same season.
Looking back maybe it benefitted Marian to lose to Chicago Whitney Young in January. Sometimes a team needs to have a setback before pushing forward.
It also benefitted Marian that it had a close game (50-49) against Detroit King in the regular season finale. When players play in close games they have a better chance at reacting well in close games later in the season. Twice DeWitt came back to take the lead from Marian in the final before the Mustangs prevailed, 51-37.
Though DeWitt and Haslett, in Class B, lost in the final these teams’ long tournament runs showed the strength of the Capital Area Conference Red Division. Both teams played demanding schedules, which paid dividends later.
Credit Detroit Country Day for playing a demanding schedule as well. The Yellowjackets gained valuable experience for a team loaded with underclassmen.
So this is easy. Country Day will be the top-ranked team in Class B next season. I know. Don’t go so far out on a limb, Tom.
This was the most balanced class of the four. Teams like Goodrich, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Wayland Union, Benton Harbor and others all had tremendous seasons.
Often teams from the U.P., particularly the western half (Crystal Falls Forest Park in football comes to mind), find fatigue as much of an enemy as their opponent in the final.
Not so with Calumet as the Copper Kings ran and pressed with Hamady all 32 minutes. Calumet was more active in the rebounding category and had an excellent ball-handler in point guard Clara Loukus.
Perhaps one of the best quotes came from Hamady coach Keith Smith when asked if he was surprised his team’s press didn’t force more turnovers.
“We were anticipating more turnovers and less fouls called on us,” he said.
What a trip for Calumet. The team began its journey to East Lansing with a pep rally on Monday and the team loaded onto to the bus an hour later. They played in Petoskey on Tuesday. They stopped in Cadillac on Wednesday for practice and then headed to Spartan country. After winning the title the team planned on a stop near the Mackinac Bridge before heading home. That’s approximately a 510-mile trip one way.
Calumet coach Jeff Twardzik said his team got pumped up after watching St. Ignace makes it comeback.
“The way they chipped away at (the lead),” he said. “They gave us a lot of motivation.”
St. Ignace lost in the Class C final last season and had to come back to win both the semifinal (59-50 over Frankfort) and the final.
Margo Brown’s six 3-pointers against Frankfort was paramount. Abbey Ostman then had 31 points in the final.
When told her team tied a state record for largest comeback St. Ignace coach Dorene Ingalls, always good for a quote or two, said that was the game plan all along.
Margo Brown, St. Ignace: Scored 42 points and added five assists and four steals in two games
Clara Loukus, Calumet: Scored 20 points and had seven rebounds and seven steals in two games
Makenna Ott, Haslett: Scored 35 points and had 16 rebounds in two games
Destiny Pitts, Detroit Country Day: Scored 40 points and had 24 rebounds in two games
Samantha Thomas, Marian: Scored 29 points and had 13 rebounds and seven steals in two games
Top reserves: Maddy Clark, Pittsford, Jalisha Terry, Hamady
I correctly picked Marian and St. Ignace to win titles before the tournament. My selection in Class B, Goodrich, lost to Country Day, the eventual champion in the semifinals. My pick in Class C was Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and it lost in the semifinals to Hamady.