Champ Detroit Edison not likely to miss a beat, even without Rickea Jackson

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Detroit Edison's Gabby Elliott grabs a rebound against Freeland's Kadyn Blanchard.

Detroit Edison earned its third consecutive state championship with Miss Basketball winner Rickea Jackson leading the way.

Jackson will be moving on. She will play in the McDonald’s All-American game later this month in Atlanta, and eventually will wind up at Mississippi State to begin her college career.

But Edison’s dynasty is far from over.

Edison returns 5-foot-10 junior Gabby Elliott, who is considered the top player in the state in the 2020 class; 5-7 sophomore point guard Damiya Hagemann, among the top players in the 2021 class; and 6-0 freshman guard Ruby Whitehorn, also among the top players in her class, 2022.

You get the picture. Edison will be nationally-ranked and the favorite to win the state championship, next season and possibly beyond.

More: David Goricki’s girls basketball finals MVPs

Edison finished 27-1 and was ranked No. 1 in Michigan by The Detroit News and No. 5 nationally by USA Today. Its lone loss this season was against No. 3 Columbus Africentric.

Jackson, a 6-3 forward, showed why she was voted Miss Basketball during the Final Four at Calvin College, contributing 26 points and eight rebounds, making 11-of-17 shots from the field in a 70-43 semifinal rout of Haslett Friday, followed by a 28-point performance on 11-of-16 shooting in a 77-58 Division 2 title game win over Freeland on Saturday night.

How good was Jackson? She scored seven straight points to open a 22-7 lead in the championship game.

Elliott, who averaged 17.4 points, had 15 points and six rebounds in the title game, and Hagemann had 13 points and nine assists.

Hagemann averaged 14 points, 8.1 assists and 4.1 steals, and Elliott scored her 1,000th career point in a Jan. 21 win at Pewamo-Westphalia, which won the Division 3 state title Saturday.

Can Edison become the first team since Flint Northern (1978-81) to win four straight state championships?

“We’re losing a key piece, but we still have D1 prospects in our gym and I know for a fact that we can get it done for four consecutive years, and I plan on doing that with my team,” said Elliott, who has offers from Maryland, Ohio State and DePaul and is the younger sister of Marquette guard Greg Elliott.

Hagemann had offers from Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and DePaul before she ever entered high school, and Whitehorn already owns offers from Michigan, Michigan State and DePaul, as well.

Junior forward Ariel Jenkins and junior guard Daija Tyson got a lot more playing time due to injuries to starting forward Dareonna Little, a junior who was forced to have shoulder surgery, and junior guard Shaulana Wagner (concussion), who was one of the stars in Edison’s first Class C state title two years ago.

Little will be able to pick up a ball again in late summer and should be ready to go for the 2020 season with yet another state championship on the line.

Tyson showed she is durable, able to play a full season after missing the first two title runs with an ACL injury to each knee.

Moving on  

Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant was thrilled to pull out an NCAA Tournament first-round win over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Merchant also has to be happy to be bringing in Saginaw Heritage point guard Moira Joiner, who was a Miss Basketball finalist.

Joiner helped Heritage repeat as state champion Saturday when she had 17 points and eight rebounds, making 4-of-9 3-pointers in a 55-40 win over Southfield A&T in the Division 1 title game. She also had a triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) in a state semifinal win over Wayne Memorial.

While Merchant will be getting Joiner – along with Miss Basketball finalists Julia Ayrault (Grosse Pointe North) and Alyza Winston (Muskegon) –coach Sue Guevara will welcome Joiner’s teammate, 6-1 forward Shine Strickland-Gills, at Central Michigan.

Strickland-Gills had a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) despite playing in foul trouble against Wayne, then scored 16 (7-of-14 shooting) with eight rebounds, six assists and six blocks in the title game.

Marshall’s future?  

Southfield A&T coach Michele Marshall said after a regional game that she decided to come back this season because she wanted to be on the sidelines for Alexis Johnson’s senior season.

After A&T’s Division 1 championship game loss to Heritage, Marshall was asked about her future.

“My concern is to make sure that these kids understand how appreciative I am of them for this season,” Marshall said. “That decision (future) will take care of itself down the line.

“This was very special (to get to the title game). You work hard for several months trying to be ultimately the last two to play on this big stage and my kids worked really hard to get here. We’ve had a wonderful season, had great kids to coach, had some tough games along the way, but we’ve answered the call each time.

“Today, unfortunately did not happen to be our day. The difficult part is that you see kids that you really love and care about who are hurting because they just didn’t have their best game today. It’s still very special to be here and I’m still extremely proud of them as young ladies.”

A&T losses Johnson, a 5-10 forward headed to Marshall, and shooting guard Soleil Barnes (Toledo), but will return starters in standout junior point guard Cheyenne McEvans, junior center Jasmine Worthy and sophomore guard Kayiona Willis.

Marshall guided Southfield Lathrup to the Class A state title in 2005 and then became head coach at A&T when Lathrup and Southfield High merged heading into the 2016-17 school year.

Two for two for Salenbien

Sophomore forward Bree Salenbien is having an outstanding start to her career, leading Adrian Lenawee Christian to its second state championship in as many years.

Salenbien, who has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Gonzaga and Indiana, had a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds), along with six assists, in a 48-46 Division 4 state title game win over St. Ignace.