By: Butch Harmon
girls basketball preview class A and B
Top teams statewide: Detroit King, Marian, Muskegon, Grosse Pointe South
King has one of the tallest teams in the state and plenty of players coming back from a squad that went 22-1 last year.
Marian has been one of the most consistent teams in the state the past several years and has an athletic squad led by Laura Burton (6'1"), who can score inside or out.
Grosse Pointe South has been the Class A runner-up the last two years and will make another run at the state title, led by junior point guard Cierra Rice.
Top area teams
DeWitt, Grand Ledge, Greenville, Midland, Rockford
DeWitt went 17-4 last year and also has a deep and talented squad. Senior Hannah Stoll (6'0") is headed to Michigan Technological University next year and is an excellent shooter. Senior Natalie Knauf (5'6") is an athletic guard, while junior Claudia Reid is another excellent shooter. Lexi Banaszak (5'11") and junior Abby Nakfoor (5'10") offer size and rebounding up front.
Grand Ledge reached the state quarterfinals last season and finished the year with a 21-5 record. The Comets return a host of talent this season. Senior twins Lindsay and Hannah Orwat averaged a combined 31 points per game last year and are dangerous either shooting from the perimeter or driving to the bucket. Junior Cori Crocker (6'3") is an outstanding athlete who nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds last year. Cori Drake (6'1") adds more size up front, while Lauren Bachert and Sophia Guzman are skilled point guards.
Greenville returns a load of talent from a team that turned in an 18-5 record last year and captured the OK Bronze title. Senior post Leah Somerfield (6'1") is a four-year starter who averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds per game a year ago. Senior Nikota Howe (5'10") is another veteran back for a team with good size and quickness.
Midland is led by senior Jessica Walter (5'11"), who is one of the best players in the state and a Miss Basketball candidate. She is a versatile talent who averaged 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals per game last year. Lily Hami (5'10") is another offensive threat who averaged 15 points per game a year ago, while Emily Reser (5'9") returns in the post.
Rockford finished second to state champion Grand Haven in the OK Red last season. The Rams have seven veterans back from a team that went 15-6. Junior Logan McCane (5'9") is an outstanding guard, while Megan Datema (5'10") makes big plays on both ends of the floor. Senior Lauren Imhoff (5'11") is a force in the post.
Top players in the state:
Ariel Bethea, jr., Ann Arbor Huron; Erika Davenport, jr., Clarkston; Candice Leatherwood, sr., Mercy; Sade’ Lemons, jr., Sterling Heights; Kerri McMahan, sr., Novi; Cierra Rice, jr., Grosse Pointe South; Asia Robeson, sr., Kalamazoo Central
Top area players
Cori Crocker, jr., Grand Ledge; Tara Lierman, jr., Holt; Logan McCane, jr., Rockford; Hannah Orwat, sr., Grand Ledge; Lindsay Orwat, sr., Grand Ledge; Kamrin Reed, so., Holt; Claudia Reid, jr., DeWitt; Leah Somerfield, sr., Greenville; Hannah Stoll, sr., DeWitt; Jessica Walter, sr., Midland
Top teams statewide: Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids South Christian, Three Rivers, Wayland Union
Benton Harbor has one of the top one-two scoring punches in the state in the Gondrezick sisters. Junior Kalabrya averaged over 17 points per game last year, while sophomore Kysre averaged over 29 points per game as a freshman. It adds another talented freshman this year in Kaniya Washington (6'3").
South Christian has an athletic squad that reached the final four last year. Senior Cassie Vredevoogd (6'0") is an athletic post player. Senior Rene Broekhuizen (5'11") is a versatile forward who can do a number of things.
Three Rivers center Teagan Reeves (6'2") is another Miss Basketball candidate. The Western Michigan University recruit averaged 21 points and 11 boards last year. Wayland Union junior Presley Hudson (5'5") is a talented point guard with unlimited range on her shot. She has already committed to Central Michigan University.
Team area teams:
John Glenn, Clare, Corunna, Eaton Rapids, Powers Catholic, Goodrich, Haslett, Ionia, Bullock Creek, Portland
John Glenn has one of the most talented young teams in the area. The Bobcats reached the district finals last year, where they fell to Bullock Creek. Sophomore Jenai LaPorte is one of the top sophomores in the state and is joined by fellow sophomore Jamie Brisson.
Clare suffered heavy graduation losses last year, but with all-everything guard Lindsay Winter (5'7") back for her senior year, the Pioneers will still be a force. Last year, Winter averaged 22 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game. Senior center Corinne Wezensky (5'11") and senior forward Alex Stark (5'8") also return.
Corunna turned in a 14-7 record last year and finished second in the CAAC White. Senior center/forward Payton Birchmeier (6'1") is a multi-dimensional player and a force in the paint. The Cavaliers have plenty of experience returning. Senior guard Lauren Ruess (5'7") heads up the backcourt along with talented sophomore guard Skylar Napier (5'5").
With nine seniors back from a team that turned in an 18-3 mark last year, Eaton Rapids has big aspirations heading into the season. Senior post Allie Dittmer (6'1") is a dominating center who averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds last year will play at Hillsdale College. The Greyhounds have plenty of size with Bailey Baker (5'10") back up front along with point guard Emily Reinecke (5'11") and Kathryn Mills (5'11") on a wing.
Powers Catholic returns a trio of starters from a team that went on a sizzling tournament run and reached the Class B state final. Senior point guard Sarah Ruhstorfer (5'5") is a talented floor general who can also drain the three-point shot. Ally Haran is an athletic player who can play any of the five positions on the court. Michela Coury (6'1") gives the Chargers a low-post threat. She averaged 10 points and 14 rebounds per game last year.
Defending Class B state champion Goodrich suffered heavy graduation losses but still has plenty of talent. Junior guard Tania Davis (5'5") is one of the top juniors in the state and averaged 17 points per game last year. Junior Isabella O’Brien (6'1") gives the Martians good size in the post, while sophomore Lexi Sevillian is an outstanding all-around player.
Haslett has a wealth of talent returning from a team that went 19-4 last season before fallng to eventual state champion Goodrich in the regional semifinal. All five starters return, led by athletic junior post Makenna Ott (5'10"). Sophomore Karson Tripp (6'0") adds more size up front. Junior point guard Kenzie DeCook runs the offense, while junior Adrianna Stolicker (5'8") is an outstanding three-point shooter.
Ionia turned in a 15-9 record last year and returns a talented senior core. Senior guards Taylor Bovee (5'8") and Sarah Swartz (5'9") both earned all-state honors last season. Up front, junior post Anna Riccius (5'11") earned all-league honors and gives the Bulldogs a potent inside-outside game.
There may not be a more talented young team in the area than Bullock Creek. Last year, it turned in a 23-4 record and reached the state semifinals. Four starters return from that team, and this year’s starting lineup will have three juniors and two sophomores. Junior guard Ellie Juengel (5'8") is the top returning scorer at 14 points per game. Fellow junior guard Hannah Heldt added 10 points per game. Up front, junior forward Halee Nieman (5'10") averaged 13 points and six rebounds. Sophomores Alyssa Mudd at forward and Madison Hill at guard add even more talent.
Portland captured the CAAC White with a perfect 10-0 record last year and finished 17-4 overall. The Raiders return a pair of all-conference players in senior forward Allison Russell (5'9") and senior guard Madison Adams. Senior forward Allie Grys (5'9") is another returning veteran.
Top players in the state:
Kalabrya Gondrezick, jr., Benton Harbor; Kysre Gondrezick, so., Benton Harbor; Teagan Reeves, sr., Three Rivers; Madison Valko, sr., Marysville; Hayley Walkowski, sr., Olivet
Top area players
Payton Birchmeier, sr., Corunna; Taylor Bovee, sr., Ionia; Michela Coury, sr., Powers; Tania Davis, jr., Goodrich; Allie Dittmer, sr., Eaton Rapids; Allison Haran, sr., Powers; Hannah Heldt, jr., Bullock Creek; Ellie Juengel, jr., Bullock Creek; Jenai LaPorte, so., John Glenn; Halee Nieman, jr., Bullock Creek; Makenna Ott, jr., Haslett; Adrianna Stolicker, jr., Haslett; Sarah Swartz, sr., Ionia; Lindsay Winter, sr., Clare