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GIRLS BASKETBALL: State-championship Saturday is another classic at the Breslin Center

By: Scott Burnstein, March 17, 2013, 10:00 am

EAST LANSING – Alert the jeweler, a fresh batch of state-title rings need to be ordered.

The state of Michigan crowned four new state champions on the girls basketball floor Saturday up in East Lansing at the Breslin Center.

Actually, some weren’t all that new come to think of it. 

In Class A, Grand Haven repeated as champions, downing Grosse Pointe South 60-54 in overtime in a rematch of last year’s one-point Buccaneers’ win. Grand Haven finished the season with a perfect record of 28-0.

Senior Abby Cole, one of the candidates for Miss Basketball this year, posted 12 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots in Saturday’s down-to-the-wire victory, battling foul trouble for much of the contest. The skilled 6-foot-5 center saved her best for late in the game, scoring on consecutive possessions in the paint at the start of overtime to push the Buccaneers ahead for good.

The two-time first-team all-state pick and Class A Player of the Year on the hardwood in 2013 as voted on by the Associated Press will be playing volleyball at the college level, inked with the University of Michigan.

Grand Haven was on fire from the field in Saturday’s finals, shooting a torrid and state-finals record 76 percent. Hannah Wilkerson scored 17 points (8-for-8 shot attempts) and Taylor Craymer added 14, hitting 3-for-3 beyond the arc, to flank Cole in the Buccaneers score-sheet.

Most impressive on the South side of things was the play of senior captain Claire DeBoer. The Bucknell-signee dropped a triple-double in defeat, scoring 10 points, swiping 10 steals and snaring 12 rebounds. The Blue Devils (26-2) had a chance to win it in the final seconds of regulation but a South player fumbled a pass underneath the basket out of bounds right before the horn.

In Class B there was also a repeat state-champion, as Goodrich trounced Flint Powers 51-34 for its second straight state-title banner.

It was never a game. Goodrich (25-3) staked out to a 28-6 lead to start things off and never looked back.

Fueling the Martians repeat effort on Saturday was superstar senior point guard Taylor Gleason. The Illinois-signee and runner-up in this year’s Miss Basketball race delivered a balanced outing of 15 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists, wowing the crowd with a behind-the-back pass on the fastbreak that sophomore Tania Davis put in for a lay-up in the first half.

Goodrich’s run to the 2013 trophy was made even more applause-worthy considering the Martians’ were deprived of the services of all-state off guard, Aketra (Kee-Kee) Sullivan, due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason. Like Gleason, Sullivan is Big 10-bound, signed with Penn State. 

The Class C title tilt saw Manchester claim its program’s first-ever crown with a 57-52 win over Saginaw Nouvel. Senior forward McKenna Erkfrtiz registered a double-double for Manchester in the triumph, tallying 22 points and 11 boards.

Erkfritz and her teammates overcame a frigid start (behind 14-2) to rally for the victory in the fourth quarter, where Manchester (27-1) went on top with just over seven minutes left and stayed there for the remainder of play.

The state finals in Class D had history on the line, with three-time defending champion Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes taking on an undefeated St. Ignace squad. If WOLL won it would have become only the third team in the state to ever four-peat.

It wasn’t to be though, as St. Ignace (28-0) stormed back from a halftime deficit to eventually win in comfortable fashion, 59-44, spoiling the Lakers date with infamy and corraling the program’s fourth state championship in one fell swoop.

Emily Hinsman paced the winning club with 20 points. St. Ignace’s senior Sarah Culip patrolled the post with vigor, chipping in with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

This was St. Ignace’s first year competing in Class D, moving down from Class C, where the Saints had appeared in the final four last year. Just like WOLL, St. Ignace was making its fourth straight appearance at the Breslin Center Saturday.

Lexie Robak, WOLL’s all-state senior shooting guard, tickled the twine for a game-high 25 points, sinking 6 3-point bombs, the second highest total in state-finals history.

Robak and her fellow all-state teammate Ava Doetsch started for the Lakers since they were freshman and on Saturday were trying to become only the second pair of prepsters to ever start on four straight state-title teams.