By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three of this weekend’s Division 3 semifinalists have become regulars checking in for the final rounds of the season.
The fourth semifinalist hasn’t made it this far in more than 40 years – not since it became one of the MHSAA’s first girls basketball champions, pre-dating the other three teams’ successes.
We’ve become quite familiar with Flint Hamady, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and Pewamo-Westphalia especially this last decade. Lake City, meanwhile, hasn’t played this late in the season since 1976 – when it won Class D in the fourth season of MHSAA-sponsored girls hoops.
Division 3 Semifinals – Thursday
Lake City (22-2) vs. Flint Hamady (20-5), Noon
Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (19-6) vs. Pewamo-Westphalia (25-1), 2 p.m.
Division 3 Final – Saturday, 4 p.m.
Tickets cost $10 per pair of Semifinals and $10 per two-game Finals session (Divisions 3 and 2). 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 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.)
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 10
League finish: Second in Genesee Area Conference Red
Coach: Keith Smith, 16th season (345-50)
Championship history: Three Class C titles (most recent 2010), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 40-35 over No. 2 Hemlock in the Regional Final, 45-36 over New Lothrop in Regional Semifinal, 50-42 over Division 2 honorable mention Corunna, 44-39 over Detroit Cass Tech.
Players to watch: Treshondra Williams, 6-1 sr. F (11.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 3.2 spg); Aryana Naylor, 6-2 jr. C (12.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg).
Outlook: After a season away, Hamady is back at the Semifinals for the fourth time this decade and after playing a regular-season schedule filled with larger opponents. All five losses came to Division 1 or 2 teams, and Hamady avenged its defeat against Corunna. Williams and Naylor give the Hawks an impressive frontcourt, while 5-9 junior Xeryia Tartt (15.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.8 spg) leads in scoring and senior guard Jordan McKeller (5.6 apg) is the top distributor.
Record/rank: 22-2, unranked
League finish: Second in Highland Conference
Coach: Bill Tisron, fifth season (83-30)
Championship history: Class D champion 1976.
Best wins: 50-46 over Ishpeming Westwood in Quarterfinal, 49-35 over Oscoda in Regional Semifinal, 57-42 over Morley Stanwood.
Players to watch: Rylie Bisballe, 6-2 jr. F (16.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg); Makayla Ardis, 5-5 sr. G (12.6 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.7 spg).
Outlook: Lake City is back at the Semifinals for the first time since its championship season, having fallen only to league rival Manton (twice) this winter. The Trojans have won at least 12 games all five seasons under Tisron and two District titles, and the Regional title was also the program’s first since that last long run four decades ago. Ardis earned an all-state honorable mention last season, and she and Bisballe get additional scoring help in part from sophomore guard Olivia Bellows (10.2 ppg) – who with Ardis had combined for 50 3-pointers entering the week.
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Steve Eklund, 10th season (205-36)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 2017, 1984 & 1983.
Best wins: 43-19 over No. 4 Niles Brandywine in Quarterfinal, 35-33 over No. 8 Kent City in Regional Semifinal, 69-41 over Detroit Country Day, 45-25 over Division 1 No. 4 Midland Dow, 56-26 over New Lothrop.
Players to watch: Hannah Spitzley, 6-0 jr. F (13.9 ppg, 38 3-pointers); Ellie Droste, 5-8 jr. G (13.9 ppg, 39 3-pointers).
Outlook: The Pirates were runners-up in Class C in 2017 and made the Semifinals in 2018, and arguably have been the favorite in Division 3 all year with only a loss to Division 2 power Detroit Edison. Spitzley and Droste both earned all-state honorable mentions a year ago – Droste hits an outstanding 61 percent of her shots from the floor, including 47 percent from 3-point range. Senior guard Rachel Huhn is another perimeter ace – she had 38 3-pointers heading into the week while making 41 percent from beyond the arc.
YPSILANTI ARBOR PREP
Record/rank: 19-6, unranked
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Scott Stine, second season (40-12)
Championship history: Class C champion 2016, two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-31 over honorable mention Adrian Madison in Quarterfinal, 59-55 over No. 5 Maple City Glen Lake, 54-40 over Division 2 No. 10 Muskegon Oakridge, 48-46 over Division 2 No. 9 Harper Woods Chandler Park, 61-46 over Dearborn Heights Crestwood.
Players to watch: Mya Petticord, 5-8 fr. G (19.3 ppg, 47 3-pointers, 3.3 apg); Mahri Petree, 5-11 sr. F (13 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg).
Outlook: Arbor Prep has made the Semifinals five straight seasons and finished champion or runner-up the last three (in Class B in 2017). The Gators have won 10 of their last 11 games, the only defeat in overtime to Chandler Park. Petticord was highly touted entering high school and has made good on those expectations. Petree, who earned all-state honorable mention last season, also provides plenty of boost, and 6-foot senior forward Kashyra Jackson is averaging 8.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game coming off the bench.
PHOTO: Lake City’s Olivia Bellows make a move toward the basket during her team’s Tuesday Quarterfinal win over Ishpeming Westwood. (Photo courtesy of Cadillac News.)