Tag Archives: Girls Basketball

Rockford Girls Basketball: Second Time’s the Charm against West Bloomfield

“If you’re going through hell, keep going!”

This iconic phrase has oft been misattributed to the venerable British prime minister, Wintson Churchill. But while the phrase has far more obscured origins, it is reasonable to glean why it maintains such close ties with the wartime statesman.

In the throws of a savage war, Britain found itself on the ropes at home and abroad with little hope as bombs fell on London and empty stomachs as rations were diverted to the war effort. On the heels of the German blitz, Churchill delivered his iconic “Never Give Up” speech at Harrow School on October 29, 1941: Never give in, never give in, never never, never–in nothing, great or small, larger or petty–never give in…”

He became a cultural figure representing stoic steadfastness and British resilience in the face of devastating opposition and thus, some legends become large enough to generate cultural gravitational pull so great that things, never uttered by them, are attributed through reputation, alone.

Rockford girls basketball does not have the global cultural impact of Winston Churchill and a basketball game is not world war, but the spirit of resilience and perseverance in that quote carries itself across all avenues of life, far beyond matters of historical scale.

Exactly one year ago, the Rockford Rams met the West Bloomfield Lakers in the state semifinals at Michigan State’s Breslin Center on March 18, 2022. The Lakers went on to win that game 66-63 and eventually beat Hartland 51-42 to win the state title. That semifinal matchup a year earlier could not have been a more distant cry, however, from what would take place March 18, 2023.

Rockford senior, Kayla MacLaren, said getting back to Breslin has been the goal since they left last year:

“I think the whole team agreed it was our goal to make it back there this season after doing it my junior year. We even made our team motto ‘finish’ because it was our goal and our main focus to finish what the ‘21-‘22 team started.”

And if that goal wasn’t focused enough, she explains that the Rams had their eye on one particular matchup they had a chance at on the other side of the bracket after winning in the semifinals.

After quarterfinals, when we found out there was a potential for the championship game to be against West Bloomfield, that game was all we wanted. Obviously, we had to focus on beating a very good Renaissance team, but West Bloomfield was our number one goal. Once we got to the championship game we knew it was going to be a war with all of the skill Bloomfield has, but everyone on the team was willing to give it everything they had so we could finally finish what we started last year.

And the Rams had started red hot in the 2022 encounter and led 31-26 at halftime. A year later, neither team could seem to hit shots, but the Rams managed to hold a slim and somewhat sloppy 14-12 lead at the break with the Wypych sisters being responsible for all fourteen. Early on, it looked even more bleak and seemed as if the Rams had little hope of stopping the Lakers, as they opened up in a zone defense and fell behind after the first quarter 10-4; a six point differential that was the largest for either team on Saturday and seemed closer to 20 in terms of how things felt in the arena.

West Bloomfield whipped the ball around and found open looks that carved the zone and got the ball deep into the defense for several high percentage shots around the basket in the opening quarter. Rockford knew they had to adjust and the coaching staff came out of a timeout in man-to-man. That decision began to take immediate effect and the Rams began giving the Lakers fits with their disciplined defense that cut down on dribble penetration and stifled passing lanes with robust help side defense.

Rockford junior guard, Grace Lyons, remarked on that pivotal in-game adjustment:

“Our coaching staff works so incredibly hard for us all season long. They spend countless hours studying film, getting our scouting reports ready, breaking down the opponent’s plays, deciding our match ups, and none of this would have been possible without each and every one of them. So going into the game we had our game plan which was to start in zone and see how they react to it, but we knew eventually we would have to win the game by playing solid man-to-man. The zone just wasn’t working out for us just because they have too many talented players who can pass from all over the floor…”

Lyons also explained how experience from a year ago played a key role in facing the vaunted Laker attack.

“Our game plan on man defense was to not face guarding anyone, because last year when we did that it gave open driving lanes to their other players. So this year we decided everyone needs to be in help or in a gap when your player has the ball to stop dribble penetration, and just make it tough for them to go anywhere. We were able to make that adjustment on the fly because it’s what we’ve been doing all season. We play some zone, but we rely on and are known for our solid man-to-man.”

While the scoring may have been polar opposite to last year’s bout, the competitive balance between the two teams was once again on full display. The Rams, once again, tussled back and forth with constant lead changes that never saw the game get out of reach for either team. It seemed as though the game would come down to whoever had the ball last and whether or not either team could see a couple shots go through the net and get hot at just the right time.

West Bloomfield began to take control and figure out some alleys for attack against the Rockford man defense and eventually pulled ahead. The Lakers would extend the lead to 3. Rams answer. 2. Rams answer. 3. Rams answer. Each time West Bloomfield looked to have the upper hand, the Rams would find a way to attack the rim for a bucket, free throws or kick to the outside. One big three came off the fingertips of senior Alyssa Wypych, that dropped a bucket that kept things within a score down the stretch. Sophomore sister, Anna Wypych, relentlessly attacked the rim and put down shots in critical minutes. Freshman Sienna Wolfe got to the line and hit shots with poise often unseen at any age on this sort of stage. MacLaren and a host of other Rams broke the Laker press and secured the ball under immense pressure to keep Rockford in striking distance. Despite all that, the Lakers maintained the advantage towards a 36-33 lead with just 2:10 left.

Wolfe took advantage of an opportunity to get to the rim and draw the foul with 1:45 left in the game and knocked down both shots to pull the Rams back within one and the score set at 36-35.

Lyons expressed how the Rams never stopped believing down the stretch:

“We all just knew we were not giving up no matter what. We’ve worked way too hard all season to just fold because some things weren’t going our way. We made an adjustment as a team. If your shot is not falling, just drive and get to the line. Work your way back in it that way. I know I at least told Sienna (Wolfe) ‘Keep being aggressive they are going to fall eventually, keep taking it to them.'”

While Lyons may have had an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon on offense, she made quite a statement when the moment mattered most:

“For me personally, I know I’m not going to stop shooting just because I had missed a few. I know I’m a good shooter and I know my coaches and teammates have confidence in me. So, when Alyssa drove in, kicked it to Anna, and Anna swung it to me, nobody was around me, so I knew I was going to let it fly.”

The shot fell through the cylinder like Ram fans have seen so many times before and Rockford took a slim but commanding lead.

West Bloomfield had one more chance to tie at the line, but a missed front end forced an attempted intentional miss, which failed to hit the rim and turned the ball over. Rockford inbounded and got the ball to Lyons who was fouled and sank two free throws to seal the deal with .1 seconds remaining. The final score ended 40-36 with the Rams as Division 1 state champions.

Banners hang in gyms all over Michigan citing conference titles, district championships and beyond, but while those numbers signify the completion of great accomplishments, they are earned long before and the same is true for Lyons.

“It’s just an amazing feeling, I’ve been working for this my whole life, putting in so much time in the gym with my dad, and it finally paid off. It’s funny because my dad would always make up these scenarios when we were practicing free throws, ‘ok, you’re down one in the state finals, no time left, if you make both you win.’ And to some extent that really happened. It is just an unexplainable feeling of just pure joy and I don’t think my dad has stopped smiling.

Anna Wypych echoed much of the same, “I literally don’t have words to describe how amazing this feels. We’ve been working so hard all year and it paid off.” Alyssa Wypych could not have been more excited, “It’s an indescribable feeling…I went lightheaded. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh…this is happening and it’s something that I’ve worked my whole life for. It’s been a dream since forever.”

The Rams held West Bloomfield junior and Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year, Indya Davis, to just 8 points. Indya’s sister Summer was held to only 4 made free throws and 0-11 shooting from the field.

Rockford coach, Brad Wilson, had this to say following the incredible championship finish:

“They gave us everything they had and we have a ton of respect for them. They made a couple of runs today where some teams would have folded. Our girls didn’t flinch, they steadied the storm, and when our girls had opportunities to make plays, they did.”

Lyons returns next year with a host of Rams, but losing some key pieces to Rockford’s success over the last few years:

It was just so great to be able to accomplish this with this group of seniors. They are incredible girls and we all had the same goal in mind all year long. We got it done. We hope to be back at the Breslin next year and we will set just as high of expectations for next season!”

For her part, MacLaren has a lot to be proud of in her career at Rockford:

“As a Ram I hope to have brought pride back to our school and our program. When I was a freshman, our program hadn’t won a district championship in 10 years and now for us to have won the state title only 4 years later, I think is pretty amazing. All six of us seniors have been playing basketball together since sixth grade, so the legacy that we would hope to leave is that it is so important to stick together and grow together. The determination and grit that the seniors brought to the team, especially after losing in the final four last year, was incredible. We brought energy and love to the team and we hope the team next year is able to have the same or even improve and make it a norm in our program to play with lots of love and passion.”

Anna Wypych finished with 20 points (including 9 of 10 from the free throw line) and 8 rebounds. Alyssa Wypych finished with 9 points and Sienna Wolfe closed out her freshman year with six. The Rams finished the season 28-1 and tied for the state record for wins in a season. Their lone loss came in a close 61-54 defeat against Division 2 semi-finalist West Catholic before the new year at the Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament.

#1 West Catholic Survives Overtime Scare Against Grand Rapids Christian

In a thrilling regional championship game between the West Catholic Falcons and Grand Rapids Christian Eagles, it was the Falcons who emerged victorious in an overtime battle, winning 53-45.

The game was a closely contested affair throughout, with both teams displaying excellent defensive skills and offensive prowess. The Falcons controlled the game most of the evening and held a double digit lead late in the game, but the Eagles mounted a sterling comeback and tied the game at 42 with a final shot in regulation that would have given GRC the victory, but was off the mark.

In the extra period, the Falcons managed to pull away from the Eagles, outscoring them 11-3 to secure the victory. The Falcons’ defense was particularly impressive in overtime, as they held the Eagles to just one basket and two free throws.

The win was a huge accomplishment for the West Catholic Falcons, who will now move on to the state quarterfinals following the 53-45 win. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles, who fought hard throughout the game but were unable to come away with the major upset.

Overall, the game was a thrilling showcase of high school basketball, with both teams displaying excellent skills and sportsmanship. The West Catholic Falcons will now look to build on their momentum and continue their run in the state tournament, while the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles will have to regroup and prepare for next season and find a new identity as several seniors graduate.

Top 35 Girls Basketball Players We Saw This Season

Player of the Year – Abbey Kimball, West Catholic (Senior)
Our player of the year is senior West Catholic guard, Abbey Kimball. While she came in second to Detroit Edison senior, Ruby Whitehorn, in the Miss Basketball standings and her Falcons lost to Edison in the state championship, she was the most complete and skilled player we saw all season. She is the best half-court scorer in the state and is able to finish in the paint or behind the arc. She also has excellent passing vision and transition skills to go with solid athleticism on the defensive end.

#2 – Ruby Whitehorn, Detroit Edison (Senior)

#3 – Indya Davis, West Bloomfield (Sophomore)

#4 – Macy Brown, East Grand Rapids (Junior)

#5 – Mya Petticord, Arbor Prep (Senior)

#6 – Theryn Hallock, Forest Hills Central (Senior)

#7 – Myonna Hooper, West Bloomfield (Senior)

#8 – Amanda Roach, Hartland (Senior)

#9 – Madisen Wardell, Detroit Edison (Senior)

#10 – Gabi Lutchka, Grass Lake (Senior)

#11 – Cadence Dykstra, West Catholic (Junior)

#12 – Jaci Tubergen, Hudsonville (Senior)

#13 – Soraya Timms, East Lansing (Senior)

#14 – Alyssa Wypych, Rockford (Junior)

#15 – Janae Tyler, Holt (Senior)

#16 – Maddie Petroelje, Hudsonville (Junior)

#17 – Ashley Bower, Portland (Senior)

#18 – Maddie Geers, Kent City (Sophomore)

#19 – Summer Davis, West Bloomfield (Sophomore)

#20– Claire Groenewoud, Holt (Senior)

#21 – Karianna Woods, Arbor Prep (Senior)

#22 – Dakota Alston, Detroit Edison (Junior)

#23 – Ella Miller, East Lansing (Senior)

#24 – Anna Wypych, Rockford (Freshman)

#25 – Lexie Bowers, Kent City (Junior)

#26 – Michelle McGee, Wyoming (Senior)

#27 – Mia Riley, Fowler (Senior)

#28 – Alaina Diaz, Hudsonville (Senior)

#29 – Brax Baker, Lowell (Sophomore)

#30 – Emma Riley, Fowler (Junior)

#31 – Lydia Meredith, St. Patrick (Senior)

#32 – Jamya Robinson, Muskegon (Senior)

#33 – Grace Lyons, Rockford (Senior)

#34 – Jayd Hovey, Hart (Senior)

#35 – Madison Garbow, Morley-Stanwood (Senior)

Top 5 Returning Players in 2023 – Indya Davis – West Bloomfield, Macy Brown – East Grand Rapids, Cadence Dykstra – West Catholic, Maddie Petroelje – Hudsonville and Alyssa Wypych – Rockford.

Clean Sweep for Area Girls Basketball

The talents of west Michigan girls basketball were on full display Tuesday night. Kent City traveled an hour south to face Schoolcraft in the quarterfinal for a second year in a row, Rockford welcomed East Lansing just down the road at Calvin University and West Catholic faced undefeated Edwardsburg in Wayland.

A year after Kent City (25-0) routed Schoolcraft (finished season 23-2), the teams battled it out through four quarters of defensive brilliance. Schoolcraft managed to slow Kent City star, Lexie Bowers, and held her to just six points. However, sisters Emma and Maddie Geers played sister-sister and led the Eagles on the offensive end to the 34-33 victory. The Eagles will head to Breslin for the second time in school history in as many years. They will face Madison Heights Bishop Foley (20-3).

While it took the Kent City faithful four quarters to find out if their Eagles would advance, West Catholic (24-1) had their answer much earlier in the night. Undefeated Edwardsburg (finished season 24-1) was outmatched from the jump and never got their bearings. The Falcons ran away with things in the first half and did the unthinkable by forcing a running clock in the second half during the state quarterfinal. West Catholic advanced with the stunning 82-27 final. The Falcons are playing with a fire brought on by a heartbreaking exit last year, partially due to Covid protocols and will have something to prove against Detroit Country Day this Thursday.

The final showcase of west Michigan girls basketball talent was the Rockford Rams (23-2) and East Lansing Trojans (finished season 19-5). Both teams are stacked with stellar guards able to handle and shoot the ball with efficiency. East Lansing also had the unique aspect of a post presence in senior center, Ella Miller. Both teams played a hard-fought first half with Rockford freshman Anna Wypych giving a standout shooting performance on the way to a 23-21 lead at the break. East Lansing’s offensive efficiency waned in the third quarter after coming out hot in their first few possessions and fell behind double digits. The Trojans made several runs, but couldn’t sustain them long enough to overcome the Rams’ hot shooting touches. The Rams advanced to the state final with the 54-43 victory.

All three west Michigan programs advance, proving once again that west Michigan hosts some of the best girls basketball in the state and deserves more recognition in the state-wide hoops landscape.

Kent City Eagles Continue Journey

Despite a very aggressive Covenant Christian team, the Eagles continued their journey towards the grand prize, a State High School Championship.

Covenant Christian led most of the first quarter, with the Eagles trailing close behind. But soon the tide changed and the Eagles took off.

Lexi Bowers finished with 19 points, but it was Madelyn Geers who had to take charge when Bowers got her fourth foul at the begging of the 3rd quarter. The Kent City Eagles defeated Covenant Christian 46-32.

Lexie Bowers 19 points Madelyn Geers 16 points Taryn Preston 9 points.

Kent City (24-0) will play Schoolcraft (23-1) tuesday at Edwardsburg High School at 7pm.

Kelloggsville Rockets Grounded in League Play at Sparta

It didn’t take long for the Sparta Spartans to make it obvious that the Rockets were not cleared for takeoff on Thursday night.

Sparta got a bucket to fall and immediately put on the full court pressure, which proved too much for the Kelloggsville backcourt. That, in turn, led to chance after chance at putting the ball in the hoop on breakaways and opportunities for further full court defense.

It took less than a quarter for things to be out of reach for the visiting Rockets and the Spartans are primed for tonight’s rivalry matchup on the road against neighboring Comstock Park tonight.

Kent City Returns with State Finalist Trophy in Tow

There is an old adage in basketball: end on a make. The quip relates to players’ seeming necessity to not end a shooting session or practice until they can end on a made basket. The final score did not reflect the outcome the Eagles had hoped it would as Grass Lake held on for the narrow 52-50 win at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI, but Kent City did what all competitors hope to do: end on a make. Despite the outcome being different than hoped, the Eagles capped off their season in a fitting way, making the final bucket of the 2021 Division 3 season.

As things kicked off on Friday afternoon, Grass Lake was clearly the beneficiary of fresh legs after their semifinal game on Wednesday was cancelled by forfeit and the Warriors came out firing on all cylinders. Kent City managed to hold Grass Lake All State performers, Lexus Bargesser and Abrie Cabana under wraps in the first half. That focus led to a wild shooting day for Grass Lake’s Gabi Lutchka. Lutchka played lights out in the first half with 14 points, including four three point buckets, before the Eagles held her scoreless in the second half. While the Eagles were able to spread the scoring around in the first half and benefitted from two stellar three point buckets by Taryn Preston, the Eagles shot a solid, but sustainable percentage from the field. That shooting kept them in the game, but the Eagles fell behind by double digits and looked to be out of it multiple times, only to rally back each and every time.

Bargesser took over the scoring duties in the second half for Grass Lake, most coming on fast break layups, and finished the day with an impressive stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 1 block. The Warriors finish the season 20-1 and Division 3 champion.

The Eagles were led by senior guards Jenna Harrison and Kenzie Bowers who finished with 16 and 13, respectively. The Eagles finish their season 21-1 and brought home the school’s first ever girls basketball state finalist trophy. In the end, the Eagles battled back every time it appeared they were out of it and fell just two points short with the season ending 52-50 loss. This won’t be the last time these seniors see the hardwood as Kenzie Bowers heads to Illinois State and Jenna Harrison will continue her basketball career at Sienna Heights next year. The 2021 senior class will be a tough hole to fill, but if this post-season has showed one thing, it is that the Eagles have a bright future ahead of them with several returners ready to take over as program leaders.

Eagles Fly High on way to State Championship

The Kent City Eagles (21-0) received their first real test of the post-season against undefeated Calumet High School, but answered the call to hand the Copper Kings their first loss of the season in the state semi-final game. Calumet ends their season with a record of 20-1.

While much of the Kent City plaudits are doled out to the senior pair of Jenna Harrison and Kenzie Bowers, and deservedly so, the Eagles were driven largely by underclassman in the early going.

The game opened up for the Eagles with freshman Maddie Geers leading the way on the scoreboard, breaking loose inside the Copper King defense and finding her way to the bucket on several trips down the court. Things began to slow on the offensive end for Kent City and shots were uncharacteristically off the mark in the unfamiliar confines of the Breslin Center arena. They were off the mark, that is, until another underclassman, sophomore guard Lexie Bowers, came alive and dropped repeated triples that pulled the Eagles from several possessions behind to a small lead part way through the second quarter. Though Lexie Bowers didn’t post anymore points after that blitz, the run was crucial to getting Kent City back into things when they needed it most.

That flurry put Kent City in the driver’s seat most of the rest of the afternoon. Calumet made several runs throughout the game and even took the lead again on a few occasions, but those early runs enabled other Eagles to find their shooting touch and join the scoring fun.

The bigger court neutered the Kent City press to some degree and the arena setting cooled early shooting, but the Eagles pushed on until things started to click up and down the roster. Despite a slow shooting start, Jenna Harrison rallied back in the second half to lead all Eagles scorers with 15 and was followed by Maddie Geers (14), Kenzie Bowers (13), Lexie Bowers (10) and Emmalyn Geers (7). In the end, the Eagles held on for the 59-53 semi-final victory.

Once again, Kent City showed that they win games as a team and has players capable of stepping up to score when others start cold. The team first mentality is behind so much of the Eagles’ success this season and they will need to conjure every ounce of it when they face the vaunted Warriors of Grass Lake High School who notably beat Detroit Renaissance; a team that will be participating in the Division 1 State Final this week.

Despite the long odds and underdog status, Kent City seems prepped to slug it out with anyone.

Kent City Punches Ticket to Final Four over Schoolcraft

Kent City achieved the seemingly impossible task of holding a quarterfinal qualifying opponent to zero points for an entire quarter to open their Elite 8 contest with Schoolcraft High School on Monday night.

The teams met in Portage and filled “The Igloo” with hopeful fans and players a single game away from a trip to the Breslin Center. Kent City made sure there were no illusions that the trip would be as easily earned as several other contests the Schoolcraft Eagles had experienced in the postseason thus far.

Kent City led Schoolcraft 10-0 after the first quarter and went into the half with an emphatic 28-6 lead. Things didn’t get much easier for Schoolcraft in the second half and the SHS Eagles were only able to net another thirteen points in the second half, while Kent City added another twenty-four points and ended the night with the 52-19 victory and a ticket to the Division 3 Final Four.

Kent City was led by the Bowers sisters with senior Kenzie ending with 20 and sophomore Lexie finishing the night with 11.

The Kent City (20-0) squad will face Calumet High School (20-0), who upset Maple City Glen Lake (ranked 6th in polls before Districts), in a tight battle that ended with Calumet victorious, 73-69. While both teams carry impressive undefeated resumes into the semi-final, there is a reason the games are played and it is clear that anything can happen when teams figuratively tip off on Wednesday just after high noon.


The Kent City (19-0) girls basketball team will be heading back to the MHSAA Division 3 state quarterfinal for the second time in four years tonight in a matchup with Schoolcraft High School (14-2).

The two teams had relatively untested paths to the quarterfinal round with Kent City’s toughest contest coming in the opening round of regionals against Western Michigan Christian; a game the KC Eagles still won by 16. Schoolcraft on the other hand also burned through district competition before meeting a tough opening regional against Hackett Catholic Prep (Kalamazoo) in a slim 53-51 victory for the SHS Eagles. Schoolcraft bounced back and slammed the door shut on Gobles High School, allowing just 12 points to the opposition in a low scoring defensive battle that still netted a comfortable 25-point victory for SHS.

Each team will look to rely on stout defenses in attempts to cool the broad range of scoring threats that both squads will be bringing to the neutral site at Portage Northern High School tonight. The teams will tip off at 7pm with hopes of claiming their spot in the Division 3 Final Four at the Breslin Center in Lansing, Michigan this Wednesday. Tickets for tonight’s game go on sale at noon.

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