Class D: Michigan Lutheran Seminary surprising finalist

David Goricki
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary made sure Engadine would have to take the long trip back to the Upper Peninsula without the prize trophy it had hoped to bring back from Breslin Center.

Seminary used its size advantage to continue its Cinderella run with a 64-59 victory Thursday night in a Class D semifinal for its 11th consecutive win.

Seminary (18-9) will play in the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday against Thursday night’s late winner between defending champion Pittsford and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

Rylee Pankow, a 5-foot-10 senior center, had 18 points (9-of-18 shooting) and six rebounds to help Seminary to a 43-31 rebounding advantage.

Seminary had some timely 3-point shooting as well, hitting 3’s during the final seconds of the second and third quarters.

The outcome overshadowed an outstanding performance by Engadine senior guard Olivia Vaughn who scored 30.

“I’m incredibly proud of these girls,” said Seminary coach Brian Blaine, whose daughter, Meghan, a sophomore forward, had 14 points and six rebounds. “These girls came together.”

Junior forward Reese VanLue had nine points and a team-high 12 rebounds, five on offense.

So, how did Seminary make it to Breslin?

“In the beginning of the season, we just started focusing on fundamentals,” said Blaine, who is in his first year as head coach. “We knew our conference was pretty tough. Hemlock made a good run, Ithaca, good run, and there’s some really quality teams in our conference. And our girls just battled and battled and we just kept coming together as the season progressed and now we’ve got 10 or 11 (wins) in a row.”

Engadine coach Roger French said Pankow was the difference.

“We knew Pankow was a decent inside player, but we didn’t really know she could hit that 12-to-15 foot shot as well as she did,” French said.

Engadine (19-6) took a 30-27 lead late in the firsthalf on consecutive baskets by 5-10 junior center Aubrey Simmons before Dayna Pembroke’s 3-pointer pulled Seminary even at the half.

Pembroke continued her strong play in the early minutes of the second half, scoring off a driving layup, then getting a steal leading to two free throws by VanLue for a 41-34 lead.

Pankow closed the game with good play on both ends of the court in the fourth, grabbing steals and blocking shots while also scoring on mid-range and inside the paint jumpers.

Pittsford 57, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 39: Maddie Clark was able to stay on the floor and play after picking up three first-half fouls to help Pittsford (27-0) make a return trip to the championship game.

The semifinal was a rematch of last year’s state title game won by Pittsford when Clark had 23 points and 10 rebounds. It will be the third straight state final game appearance for Pittsford, which lost to St. Ignace 64-60 in overtime in 2015.

Turnovers was the demon for Sacred Heart (25-2) in the rematch. It turned the ball over 16 times in the opening half to allow Pittsford to take a 23-18 lead.

Still, Sacred Heart had Clark in foul trouble, but couldn’t get a fourth foul on her to send her back to the bench during the second half.

Pittsford led 36-29 after three quarters and opened a 47-33 cushion with three minutes left, then continued to build on it.

Clark, a 5-foot-10 senior forward, finished with 19 points and eight rebounds and all-state guard Jaycie Burger finished with 14.

Scout Nelson scored 16 for Sacred Heart, which finished with 28 turnovers.

SEMIFINALS

At Breslin Center

THURSDAY

Class C

Detroit Edison 54, Flint Hamady 31

Pewamo-Westphalia 64, Maple City Glen Lake 51

Final: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Class D

Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary 64, Engadine 59

Pittsford 57, Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart 39

Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY

Class A

Warren Cousino vs. Flushing, 1 p.m.

East Kentwood vs. Southfield A&T, 2:50 p.m.

Final: Saturday, noon

Class B

Detroit Country Day vs. Marshall, 6 p.m.

Ypsilanti Arbor Prep vs. Freeland, 7:50 p.m.

Final: Saturday, 6 p.m.