By: John Raffel
Top Division 1 and 2 girls basketball team
Heritage, East Lansing among top Division 1 and 2 teams
By John Raffel
Teams to keep an eye on in Divisions 1 and 2 include East Lansing which was 26-1 before falling in the title game to Saginaw Heritage, which wound up at 27-1.
Miss Basketball, Jaida Hampton has graduated. But East Lansing still has a lot of talent with all-state third-year stater Aaliyah Nye, a 5-foot-11 forward, and, all-conference third-year starter Sanaya Gregory.
Also back is third-year player Kalaia Hampton, and second-year players Ahlura Lofton, Annelise Lebeda and Allie Mayes.
“We lost 3 All State kids and Miss Basketball,” coach Robert Smith said. “It is going to be a tough road but our girls are working really hard and improving every day. We will be very competitive with the other league teams.”
Smith is looking forward to the rivalry with DeWitt, which has dominated the Red, while East Lansing has won 14 or the last 16 titles in the Blue. East is trying to win its 10th district and 9th regional title in the last 12 years. East has owned a (198-22) Conference Record in the last 16 years. His overall coaching record is 311-78.
The defending Class A champions have the talent to do it again with returning all-staters such as Moira Joiner, Shine Strickland-Gills and Mallory McCaskey. Heritage’s only loss came to Class C state champion Detroit Edison during the regular season. Heritage has started out the season at 5-0 including a 51-31 regular-season win over Freeland.
Jasmine Clerkley and Laya Hartman give Okemos two very talented players who can help the Chieftains make a lot of noise this season. Hartman has already committed to Northwestern. “We’re just getting ready and will have a (tough) conference season,” Hartman said. “We’ll have to be ready every game.” Okemos has started the season at 4-3.
DeWitt was 21-2 last year and is a senior-dominated team this season and dominated on its roster by seniors including power forward Sydney Mills and swing guard Lilly Stephan. The Panthers have started out 5-1 with their only loss being 45-41 to anotherr other state contender, East Lansing/
It’s a tough schedule for Grand Ledge, which has started out 5-1 with five straight wins after a season-opening loss to Jackson. But a tough schedule includes the likes of East Lansing and Okemos. Courtney Sharland is an outstanding player for the Comets. Senior Mackenzie Todd is expected to have an outstanding season.
Sisters Hailey and Alyssa Leister give Alma plenty of reason to hope for a strong season, although the Panthers have been hit with turnover problems in a 3-2 start. More discipline would make the Panthers a solid team. In an early season win over Essexville-Garber, Hailey Leister led the Panthers with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Alyssa Leister added in 12 points. They both averaged 13 points a game last season.
The Hornets had a fabulous 20-0 regular season last year but lost in the playoffs. But almost everybody returns from this team and the Hornets have a score to settle in the postseason. Libby Ledford is among the talented returning players. Forward Hannah Putnam was lost to an ankle injury late in the season and will be returning.
Dow will be led by Maizie Taylor, a 5-foot-7 senior, who had a torn ACL in 2017 and missed a lot of last season while recovering. She has been a starter for Dow since her freshman season. Dow has started off the season at 4-1.
Freeland made the state quarterfinals, led by Alyssa Argyle, who averaged 41 percent in 3-point shooting and averaged 4 steals, 4 assists and 3 rebounds a game.
BAY CITY JOHN GLENN
Glenn sophomore Carly McCrum had some strong performances as a freshman last season. John Glenn has gotten off to a 4-1 start.
The Greater Lansing Activities Conference will feature many standout teams including Perry.
Lakewood coach Marcus Urka could have the surprise team of 2018-19.
“Anja Kelley, a sophomore point guard, is our strongest ball handler, and she does a little bit of everything with scoring, rebounding, assists, and defense,” Urka said. “I expect her to be one of the top players in our league.”
Zari Kruger, a senior power forward, “was our leading rebounder last year, and one of our leading scorers.” Urka said. “She was All-GLAC, and I expect her to be again this year.”
Patsy Morris is a senior guard. “Patsy is one of our best shooters, and she can also help out with handling the ball and setting up her teammates with assists,” Urka said. “She is also a tremendous rebounder for her position.”
Kristine Possehn is a junior guard.
“Kristine can handle the ball, finish with both hands, and is one of our best shooters. I expect us to be a more competitive team this year,” Urka said. “We expect to finish in the top 3 of our league, and have a winning record overall. Last year Perry won the GLAC, and I expect them to be strong again this year. We expect to finish in the top half, along with Perry, Olivet, and Lansing Christian.”