Detroit Country Day basketball

Girls Basketball

D2 Preview: Past Powers, New Hopefuls Bring Stories to Breslin

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

March 16, 2022

This weekend’s Division 2 Finals bracket might have the most pre-packaged storylines of any of the four divisions that will celebrate girls champions this weekend at Breslin Center.

Detroit Edison returns after the last two seasons were cut short, seeking to add a fourth title in six years with another Miss Basketball leading the way. Detroit Country Day owns the most Finals championships in girls basketball history and is seeking its first since 2018.

Grand Rapids West Catholic hopes to follow the Miss Basketball runner-up to its first championship in more than three decades. And Ludington, making its first appearance at Finals weekend, is looking to add more firsts to a historic run.  

DIVISON 2 Semifinals – Friday
Grand Rapids West Catholic (24-1) vs. Detroit Country Day (14-7), 5:30 p.m.
Detroit Edison (17-3) vs. Ludington (20-5), 7:30 p.m.
FINAL – Saturday – 6:15 p.m.

Tickets for this weekend’s games are $12 for both Semifinals and Finals and are available via the Breslin Center ticket office. All Semifinals will be broadcast and viewable with subscription to MHSAA.tv, and all four Finals will air live Saturday on Bally Sports Detroit’s primary channel as well as on the BSD website and app. Audio broadcasts of all Semifinals and Finals will be available free of charge from the MHSAA Network.

Here’s a look at the four Division 2 semifinals (with rankings by MPR and statistics through Regional Finals):

DETROIT COUNTRY DAY
Record/rank: 13-7, No. 28
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Jerica Williams, second season (28-10)
Championship history: Thirteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2018), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 59-55 over Marysville in Quarterfinal, 54-39 over St. Clair Shores Lakeview, 47-45 over Division 4 No. 11 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist.
Players to watch: Jaidyn Elam, soph F (13.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 spg); Emma Arico, soph. G (8.9 ppg, 3.4 apg); Ari’Yana Wiggins, fr. F (9.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Outlook: Four starters are back from the team that made last season’s Semifinals, with Elam and Arico joined by junior guard Aysia Yokely (8.6 ppg) and sophomore forward Peja Liles (4.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg). The Yellowjackets have all of that experience and still no seniors, with Elam also having made the all-state second team last season and Arico earning an honorable mention. Country Day saw its share of tough opponents, with six of its seven losses coming against teams that ended up with 14 or more wins.

DETROIT EDISON
Record/rank: 17-3, No. 1
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Coach: Monique Brown, 10th season (177-40)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2019).
Best wins: 53-35 over No. 3 Portland in Quarterfinal, 85-43 over No. 2 Redford Westfield Prep, 67-44 over Division 1 No. 3 Farmington Hills Mercy, 60-32 over Division 1 No. 13 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 60-47 over Division 1 No. 11 Parma Western, 68-30 over Division 1 No. 14 East Lansing, 67-48 over Division 1 No. 1 Hudsonville, 60-52 over Division 3 No. 1 Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
Players to watch: Ruby Whitehorn, 6-0 sr. G (23.9 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, 4.5 spg, 2.1 bpg); NaKiya Bonner, 5-6 soph. G (8.2 ppg, 5.5 apg); Madisen Wardell, 6-1 sr. F (13.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg).  
Outlook: After last season’s undefeated team was sidelined during Districts by COVID-19, Edison is back looking to add to its three straight Finals championships won from 2017-19. Whitehorn, who has signed with Clemson, gave her program its fourth-straight Miss Basketball Award winner earlier this week, and Wardell will continue her career at DePaul. Edison’s only losses were to Division 1 semifinalist West Bloomfield, Indiana state champion South Bend Washington and Illinois power Joliet West. All but one of the Pioneers’ in-state opponents finished with a winning record this winter.

GRAND RAPIDS WEST CATHOLIC
Record/rank: 24-1, No. 8
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue
Coach: Jill VanderEnde, eighth season (119-69)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1990), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 82-27 over No. 6 Edwardsburg in Quarterfinal, 55-29 over No. 20 Newaygo in Regional Final, 55-43 over Grand Rapids Christian in Regional Semifinal, 64-29 over Grand Rapids Catholic Central in District Final, 63-23 over No. 13 Sparta.
Players to watch: Abbey Kimball, 5-10 sr. G (25.1 ppg, 97 3-pointers, 3.0 apg, 4.4 spg); Cadence Dykstra, 5-9 jr. G (8.2 ppg, 4.5 apg); Elisha Dykstra, 5-10 fr. F (8.3 ppg).  
Outlook: West Catholic is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since 1995, when it finished Class B runner-up. Kimball was the Miss Basketball runner-up and added three more 3-pointers Tuesday – the Michigan State signee’s 100 are tied for second-most in a single season in MHSAA history and five off the record. Freshman guard Anna Ignatoski adds 7.8 points off the bench and was the team’s leading scorer in the Quarterfinal win over the Eddies. The team’s only loss was Dec. 23 to Division 1 semifinalist Rockford.

LUDINGTON
Record/rank: 20-5, No. 45
League finish: Tied for first in the Lakes 8 Activities Conference.
Coach: Warren Stowe, second season (34-10)
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 30-27 over No. 5 Frankenmuth in Quarterfinal, 34-31 over Negaunee in Regional Final, 54-36 over Standish-Sterling in Regional Semifinal, 38-33 over Muskegon Western Michigan Christian.
Players to watch: Keelyn Laird, 6-3 jr. F (10.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.2 apg); RyAnn Rohrer, 5-10 sr. F (10.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.2 apg, 3.3 spg); Abi Bandstra, 5-9 sr. G (4.5 ppg, 2.8 spg).
Outlook: Ludington will be playing in its first Semifinal since 2004 and has won 17 of its last 18 games. The Orioles avenged an early defeat to league rival WMC and also got good early prep in losses to eventual Division 1 semifinalists Hartland and West Bloomfield, and Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. Only one opponent has put up more than 40 points during the 18-game run – Cadillac, which scored 47 in handing Ludington the lone loss over that stretch. Junior forward Olivia Lynn adds 7.5 points off the bench.

PHOTO Detroit Country Day’s Jaidyn Elam brings the ball upcourt during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Livonia Clarenceville. (Photo by Douglas Bargerstock.)