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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Marian, Eaton Rapids, Nouvel & Sacred Heart storm Breslin, all collect state crowns in 2014

By: Scott Burnstein, March 18, 2014, 8:00 am

EAST LANSING – All hail the new champs!

The state crowned its 2014 girls basketball champions over the weekend at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

In Class A, Birmingham Marian grabbed the hardware with a 44-26 thumping of Canton, following an upending of its’ arch-rivals Farmington Hills Mercy in the state semifinals (Marian was 1-2 vs. Mercy in the regular season and lost in heartbreaking fashion at the buzzer to the Marlins in the CHSL Finals).

Standout freshman forward Samantha Thomas had 15 points in the state championship game, including three consecutive three-point plays in the third quarter that allowed the Mustangs to pull away in the second half and what was only a 22-16 lead at the break.

Marian wraps up the season 25-2 and can now boast five state-championship trophies for the school’s mantle case. Longtime head coach Mary Cicerone will return all but one player (senior captain and Lawrence Tech-signee Laura Bruton) from her 2014 rotation for the 2015 campaign next winter when the Mustangs go for a repeat. Cicerone’s is currently tied for most state titles won by a coach in the annals of the MHSAA (Detroit King’s William Winfield also has five rings).

Eaton Rapids captured its first-ever state crown in Class B, with a 51-38 downing of Grand Rapids South Christian. Registering 26 points and 13 rebounds, all-state senior center Allie Ditmer pushed Eaton Rapids (23-5) to the title. Ditmer scored 10 points and collected four rebounds in the fourth quarter. Eaton Rapids was tough-to-spot on the free-throw line, connecting on 12-of-15 from the stripe in the final quarter of action.

Over in Class C, Saginaw Nouvel topped St. Ignace 62-40, dethroning the 2013 state-title holders from Class D. Rachel McInerney was a monster all game long for Nouvel (22-4), posting a dandy of 22-point, 23-rebound double-double. Sophomore Laurel Jaqumain was just as devastating, notching 21 of her game-high 23 points in the decisive second half.

Former Nouvel freshman coach, Mary Joe Skiendziel, (Class of 1989) became the head coach just last month and her team rallied around her. Nouvel advanced into the state finals last winter, losing to Manchester.

St. Ignance senior Kelley Wright ended her career with a state-best 102 victories in a prep uniform.

Taking the royalty reins in Class D from St. Ignance was Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart, which edged past Crystal Falls Forest Park and Miss Basketball Lexi Gussert (MSU), 56-53, to grab it’s program first state championship in school history.

Sacred Heart (22-5) concluded the game on a 16-4 run and contained Gussert by holding the prolific-scorer to only 17 points. Star sophomore center, Averi Gamble led Sacred Heart with 25 points. Riley Terwilliger made a steal and lay-up to get Sacred Heart to within a point behind at 50-49 and then buried what ended being the game-winning shot, a triple, to make it 52-50 with 1:16 remaining.