By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
For two straight seasons, Pittsford didn’t lose a game.
But the Wildcats ended up in Class C this school year, and that means we’ll have a new champion in D this weekend – with a mix of familiar and new faces making the charge.
Waterford Our Lady and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart are regulars for the final weekend of the season, and both have won Class D titles this decade. Adrian Lenawee Christian and Chassell have far less experience at this level – in fact, this is Chassell’s first trip to the Semifinals – but between them they are a combined 49-2 this winter.
Semifinals and Finals this weekend will be played at Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids.
Class D Semifinals – Thursday
Chassell (25-1) vs. Waterford Our Lady (20-4), 5:30 p.m.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (24-1) vs. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (25-0), 7:30 p.m.
Class D Final – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Class D and Class A). All Semifinals will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a pay-per-view basis. All four Finals will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Detroit and streamed live on FoxSportsDetroit.com and the FOX Sports Go! app. Free radio broadcasts of all weekend games will be available on MHSAANetwork.com.
Below is a glance at all four semifinalists. Click on the name of the school to see that team’s full schedule and results from this season. (Statistics are through teams' Regional Finals.)
ADRIAN LENAWEE CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 3
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Jamie Salenbien, first season (24-1)
Championship history: Class D runner-up 2010.
Best wins: 62-31 over honorable mention Athens in Quarterfinal, 63-33 (District Semifinal) and 61-42 over honorable mention Morenci, 63-47 over Ida, 52-38 over Dexter.
Players to watch: Bree Salenbien, 6-2 fr. F (21.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3.5 spg, 3.1 bpg); Dani Salenbien, 5-9 soph. G (13.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, 3.8 spg, 46 3-pointers).
Outlook: Lenawee Christian is nine wins better than a year ago and will play its first Semifinal since 2010 under Jamie Salenbien, who formerly led Onsted to league titles all three of his seasons as head coach from 2011-13. This team has just one senior and seven underclassmen, with Bree Salenbien one of the most intriguing freshmen in the state. She followed her sister Dani with 37 3-pointers entering this week, and sophomore guard Libby Miller had 33. The schedule was filled with larger teams – the lone loss came by a point to Class A Monroe, while Class B Ida was a league champion and Dexter pulled off one of the biggest District upsets in Class A.
Record/rank: 25-1, No. 6
League finish: First in Copper Mountain Conference Copper Country
Coach: Brandi Hainault, sixth season (79-57)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 58-41 over No. 4 Gaylord St. Mary in Quarterfinal, 52-46 over No. 2 Munising in Regional Semifinal, 58-55 (OT) over Bark-River Harris in Regional Final, 62-35 over Ewen-Trout Creek.
Players to watch: Milly Allen, 5-3 sr. G (15.5 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.0 spg); Sydney Danison, 6-1 sr. C (13.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg).
Outlook: Chassell won its first Regional title last week, and after going 5-16 in 2014-15 has upped its win total for the third successive season. The Panthers have eliminated two top-five teams over the last two weeks and sandwiched the close win over Bark River-Harris (18-6) between them. They haven’t lost since opening night to Class C L’Anse. Junior guard Jenna Pietila adds another 9.6 points and 4.2 assists per game in helping to lead the veteran group.
MOUNT PLEASANT SACRED HEART
Record/rank: 25-0, No. 1
League finish: First in Mid-State Activities Conference.
Coach: Damon Brown (10th season (204-41)
Championship history: Class D champion 2014, runner-up 2016 and 2008.
Best wins: 49-29 over Bellaire in Quarterfinal, 37-20 over Fruitport Calvary Christian in Regional Final, 57-43 over Beaverton, 39-30 and 53-13 over Carson City-Crystal.
Players to watch: Scout Nelson, 5-9 jr. G (13.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.7 spg, 4.2 rpg); Sophia Ruggles, 6-0 sr. F (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
Outlook: The Irish have made the Semifinals for the third straight season returning their entire starting five from last year’s loss to eventual champion Pittsford – seniors Grace Reetz (7.8 ppg), Haydn Terwilliger (6.8) and Megan Nowak (6.1) join Nelson and Ruggles. Terwilliger, Nelson and Ruggles also started for the 2015-16 team. Although Sacred Heart doesn’t have wins over any opponents ranked at the end of the regular season, they saw their share of strong competition. Class C Carson City-Crystal finished 19-4, while Class C Beaverton and Calvary Christian were league champions and Bellaire finished 21-4.
WATERFORD OUR LADY
Record/rank: 19-4, No. 8 (tie)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League A North
Coach: Steve Robak, 11th season (204-65)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), runner-up 2013.
Best wins: 42-28 over No. 5 Kingston in Quarterfinal, 51-22 over Marine City Cardinal Mooney in Regional Final, 47-39 over Allen Park Cabrini, 41-40 over Royal Oak Shrine, 51-47 over Bloomfield Hills.
Players to watch: Tiffany Senerius, 5-8 sr. F (14 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 41 3-pointers), Isabelle Kline, 5-8 soph. G (10.5 ppg, 25 3-pointers).
Outlook: After falling in a Quarterfinal last season, Our Lady is back for its third Semifinal in four seasons and seeking its fourth championship over the last nine. The Lakers have won 18 of their last 19 games after an opening stretch that included losses to reigning Class B champion Detroit Country Day and current Class C contender Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. Cardinal Mooney, Cabrini and Shrine ended the regular season unranked, but all three won league titles. Three more players average at least six points per game – seniors Catherine Weddle (6.5) and Kayla Sanders (7.9) and freshman Brooklyn Robak (8.0).
PHOTO: Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart's Grace Reetz drives past a defender during her team's Regional championship win last week. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)