By: Butch Harmon
Talent abounds across the state as girls's basketball season tips off
Although just a junior, Freeland's Tori Jankoska is already recognized by many girls' basketball recruiting experts as one of he premier players in the state, regardless of class.
The 5'8" guard has been a dominant force for Freeland during her first two seasons of high school basketball. With two more seasons left to play,the future is wide-open for the future Michigan State University Spartan.
Last season, Jankoska averaged close to 23 points per game for the Falcons. Jankoska and her Freeland teammates will be looking for big things this season and should be one of the premier teams in Class B in the Tri-Cities area.
Class B is home to a number of standout teams across the state this season. Defending Class B state champion Divine Child is the team to beat again. The Falcons return plenty of talented players from last year's squad, led by 5'9" guard Rosanna Reynolds, who is headed to the University of Detroit-Mercy. Divine Child also welcomes back senior guard Cara Miller (6'1"), who is headed to Michigan State University.
One of the prime challengers to Divine Child will be Goodrich. The Martians return arguably the second-best junior in the state in point guard Taylor Gleason (5'8"). Like Jankoska, Gleason will be playing her college basketball for an in-state Big 10 school, as she will be a future University of Michigan Wolverine. Goodrich has another future Big 10 player on its roster in junior guard Aketra Sevillian (5'6") who is headed to Penn State University.
Mid-Michigan is home to a number of outstanding Class B teams and players this season. Portland has plenty of talent back, led by senior center Sarah Trierweiler (6'4"), who will be playing her college ball at Northwood University. The Raiders also return standouts Taylor Roe (5'9"), Chelsi Scott, and Kelsey Spitzley.
Durand welcomes back talented senior guard Kristen Long (5'5"). Long, who has scored 1,322 career points, will be playing her college basketball at Wayne State University.
In Class A, defending state champion Inkster is loaded up to defend its state title. Inkster brings back one of the premier post players in the state in senior Kelsey Mitchell (6'2"), a future University of Michigan Wolverine. Fellow senior Ashley Franklin (6'3") gives the team even more size and talent up front.
Westland John Glenn will be one of Inkster's main challengers. John Glenn has the size to match up with Inkster, led by senior power forward Joslyn Massey (6'2"), who is headed to Purdue. John Glenn also has a standout guard in Erica Corvile (5'9"), who will be playing her college ball at Temple. The Rockets also have one of the premier juniors in the state in guard Shakeya Graves.
In Detroit, both Pershing and King have solid teams capable of state title runs.
Grand Haven is one of the premier teams outstate. The Buccaneers turned in a 26-1 record last season with their lone loss coming in a state semifinal. They return plenty of talent this season, led by senior point guard Shar'Rae Davis (5'8") and fellow senior guard Alex Law. The Bucs also have size in the post with 6'5" junior Abby Cole.
The Lansing area has a number of solid Class A teams. East Lansing reached the quarterfinals last year in a rebuilding season before falling to Grand Haven. The Trojans return a number of talented players, led by senior guards Alex Green and Aimie Konkel along with junior Piper Tucker (6'0"), a solid all-around player.
Waverly is also poised for a big season. They are led by senior power forward Jasmine Wood (6'0"), who will be playing her college basketball in the MAC at the University of Akron next season. Junior point guard Victoria Milton is one of the top young guards in mid-Michigan.
St. Johns has a veteran team that is poised for another solid season. Senior Jordyn Nurenberg (6'0") is an outstanding all-around player and is joined up front by Alex Hallenback, a solid post player. Skylar Hebert (5'10") gives the Red Wings an excellent threat from the perimeter.
Look for Midland to be the team to beat in the Saginaw Valley. Maura McAfee is a solid all-around player while sophomore point guard Jessica Walter (5'8") is a rising standout.
Last season was one to remember for the Pewamo-Westphalia girls basketball team. The Pirates were one of the most dominant teams in Class C in mid-Michigan and captured district and regional titles before falling to Hamady Community in the state quarterfinals. Rebuilding will be the name of the game for the Pirates this season, as a number of key players graduated. The school, however, has developed an outstanding basketball tradition. Look for the Pirates to become a factor again as their young players gain experience.
Last season Clare reeled off 24 straight wins before falling to Pewamo-Westphalia in the regional championship game. This season, look for Clare to pick up where it left off last season. The Pioneers return a number of key players, led by sophomore standout Lindsay Winter. Winter led the Pioneers in scoring last season as a freshman and is poised for an even bigger sophomore season. She is not the only key player returning, as juniors Melissa Benchly and Ashley Petree are also back to provide the team with scoring and strong work on the boards.
After playing in Class B last season, Morley Stanwood is back in Class C this season. With senior guard Bailey Cairnduff (5'10") back for her senior season, the Mohawks have the potential for another unbeaten regular season. With Alexis Huntey and Alyssa Nelson also returning, the Mohawks are loaded this season and set for a deep tournament run.
Look for perennial Flint area power Hamady Community to be strong again, led by senior Dy'man Webb.
Our Lady of the Lakes will be looking for a three-peat this season in Class D. OLL has won the last two Class D state titles, and with a solid, balanced squad this season, the Lakers will again be one of the teams to beat.
New Lothrop will again be one of the top Class D teams in the Genesee Area Conference as will Morrice, which returns senior Natalie Markell.
Lansing Christian returns one of the top young players in Class D in sophomore Mikayla Terry (5'10").
Rebuilding will be the name of the game at Portland St. Patrick, but you can be sure the Shamrocks will be tournament-tested come March, as will Sacred Heart Academy.