Michigan’s Miss Basketball field jam-packed
Kysre Gondrezick scored a state record 72 points, averaging 40 points her senior year at Benton Harbor to earn Miss Basketball honors before now starting for No. 20 Michigan.
Well, the list of Miss Basketball candidates is jammed with players set to compete in the Big Ten and ACC following their impressive high school careers which are about to conclude next month.
Kierra Fletcher led Warren Cousino to its first state championship in school history last year and is on a mission to return to the Breslin Center for another shot at bringing home the ultimate trophy before moving on to Georgia Tech.
Destiny Pitts of Detroit Country Day (Minnesota), Deja Church of Southfield A&T (Michigan) and Kamaria McDaniel of Dearborn Heights Robichaud (Penn State) are also on the list, along with Western Michigan-bound Jordan Walker of Muskegon Mona Shores.
Fletcher made a name for herself during Cousino’s Class A state championship run, scoring 37 in a semifinal win over Hudsonville, then coming back less than 24 hours later with a 27-point, eight-rebound, five-assist effort in a 67-65 state title win over Detroit King.
Fletcher averaged 23 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and four steals to earn a spot on The News Dream Team.
So, how has Fletcher handled the pressure of having the bullseye on her back? She has continued where she left off, averaging 22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals to help her team to a 17-2 record.
Fletcher was at her best Saturday, playing an outstanding all-around game (18 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and five steals) in a 53-34 win over Port Huron Northern — ranked No. 5 in Associated Press Class A poll — in the MAC championship game. It was Cousino’s third win this season against Port Huron Northern.
“I think the highlight for me was accomplishing all our goals so far, one of beating Port Huron Northern twice, then a third time in the MAC championship game,” said Fletcher. “My teammates did a great job of setting me up, putting me in great position to score and overall (players) 1-through-12 we played an amazing game.
“Really, teams are gunning for us, the target’s gotten bigger after we won the state championship so it’s not so much pressure … we just know we have to have our best days in practice so we’re ready for anything.”
So, where has Fletcher improved since a year ago?
“I think my pull-up jumper has improved because sometimes I can’t get all the way to the basket, so my jumper in general,” Fletcher said. “I think I can read the defense better too, so I know where to put my teammates so they can succeed, and my defense has also been better.”
Cousino coach Mike Lee is proud of Fletcher’s leadership.
“She is amazing,” Lee said. “As the stage gets bigger so does her effort. It’s hard to believe but she gets better and better every game. She doesn’t know what the word pressure means. She just wants that lasting impression with her teammates and her school.”
Fletcher feels honored to see her name on the Miss Basketball list.
“I haven’t really thought about Miss Basketball much, but once I found out (I was on the list) I thought it was a pretty big accomplishment since no one from the MAC has won it before so if I did win it would be great for the community and the school. I don’t think about that too much because I’m not into individual awards so I’m not really focused about that right now, but if I did win it would be a great accomplishment and I’d owe it to all of my teammates.”
Pitts, a 5-foot-10 guard, helped Country Day to a 23-2 record her freshman year, then to the Class B state championship her sophomore year when she scored 28 in a state semifinal, followed up with a double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) in the title game win to earn a spot on the News Dream Team.
Pitts is going out in style, averaging 23.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists for Country Day which was unbeaten and ranked No. 19 nationally by USA Today before a one-point loss Saturday at Saginaw Heritage.
“She’s been outstanding,” praised Country Day coach Frank Orlando of Pitts. “She is really what Miss Basketball is all about, an all-around great player and great person. She can do it all, score, rebound, pass and an outstanding defender and leader.”
Church will join Gondrezick at Michigan after what she hopes is a long tournament run at Southfield A&T.
Church, a point guard, helped Southfield to a 20-4 record and regional final appearance, a loss to Detroit King last winter before the school merged with Southfield Lathrup.
Church has been a leader, helping Southfield A&T to a 13-4 record while averaging 19.1 points, nine rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.5 assists.
“Deja is an amazing young lady and student-athlete,” Coach Michele Marshall said. “She is blessed with tremendous talent and is one of the hardest working, determined and humble players I have ever coached.”
McDaniel, a 5-10 shooting guard, is a scoring machine, averaging 30.5 points with eight rebounds and three assists for 11-7 Robichaud.
“Ranked No. 30 in the nation at her position by ESPN’s Dan Olson of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, Kamaria has the ability to excel against top level competition which she has proved on the national AAU circuit and in high school,” Coach Jason Wilkins said. “Last year, after returning from injury at mid-season, she helped Robichaud to its first Class B district and regional championships in school history. This season she has taken on a leadership role and does whatever is asked of her to help the team.”
No doubt, WMU coach Shane Clipfell has to feel fortunate he’ll be working with Walker next year.
After all, Walker is an outstanding guard who can score or get her teammates involved.
Walker scored a school-record 39 in a 72-47 rout of rival Muskegon earlier this month, also finding time to grab 12 rebounds and collect six steals to cause all kinds of problems for her cousin who is Muskegon coach Rodney Walker.
State Wrestling Finals set for McGuirk Arena
A state championship will already be decided this weekend when the State Team Wrestling Finals get underway at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant.
State quarterfinal matches will get underway Friday with semifinal and title bouts set for Saturday.
Division 1 quarterfinals are set for 2 p.m. with No. 1 seed Detroit Catholic Central (28-1) facing No. 8 seed Brighton (16-8); No. 4 seed Oxford (24-5) against No. 5 seed and defending state champion Hartland (32-3); No. 3 seed Macomb Dakota (32-3) facing No. 6 seed Westland John Glenn (29-6) and No. 2 seed Davison (24-3) going up against No. 7 seed Grandville (14-5).
Division 2 will begin at 6:45 with No. 1 seed Lowell (18-2) vs. No. 8 seed Tecumseh (24-6), No. 4 seed Marysville (26-0) vs. No. 5 seed Allendale (34-3); No. 3 seed St. Johns (25-1) vs. No. 6 seed Niles (15-1) and No. 2 seed Warren Woods Tower (26-0) vs. No. 7 seed DeWitt (30-4).
Division 3 is set for 4:30 with No. 1 seed Richmond (27-2) getting a bye; No. 4 seed Lake Fenton (33-5) facing No. 5 seed Whitehall (20-3), No. 3 seed Remus Chippewa Hills (27-1) facing No. 6 seed Lake Odessa Lakewood (29-6) and No. 2 seed Dundee (18-4) vs. No. 7 seed Caro (28-7).
Division 4 quarterfinals are set for noon with No. 1 seed Hudson (16-9) facing No. 8 seed Munising (22-3), No. 4 seed Bronson (30-8) vs. No. 5 seed Springport (17-3), No. 3 seed Carson City-Crystal (29-8) vs. No. 6 seed New Lothrop (14-8) and No. 2 seed Leroy Pine River (30-4) vs. No. 7 seed Clinton (28-7).
Semifinals for Division 1 and 4 will be at 9 a.m. with Division 2 and 3 at 11:30.
Title matches for Division 1 and 4 will take place at 3:30 with Division 2 and 3 at 6.