Detroit News top girls basketball teams: Edison aims for fourth straight title, history

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit Edison will be going after a piece of history this season when it attempts to become the second team in state history to win four consecutive state championships.

Edison won Class C state titles in 2017 and ’18, then moved up to Division 2 last season, defeating Freeland for its third straight title.

Monique Brown

Flint Northern was the last team to win four straight titles, in Class A from 1978-81, with the McGee twins, Pam and Paula, leading the way.

The McGee twins went on to win a pair of national championships at USC with Cheryl Miller, and Pam also won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. Pam’s son, 7-foot JaVale McGee, is a 12-year NBA veteran.

How much pressure do the Edison players feel with history hanging in the balance?

“This is an absolute dream,” said Edison coach Monique Brown, who built the program from the ground up. “No, sorry, never had this dream, but always had a dream of winning one state title, prayed for the second, blessed to get the third, only working hard daily will get us the fourth.

“Being in this position has definitely put pressure on the entire program, but we are up for the challenge. We know what’s at stake and we will work our hardest to match history. I was always told that winners work.”

More: Detroit News top girls basketball players: Elliott takes over at Edison

While Miss Basketball, 6-foot-3 Rickea Jackson, has moved on and is starting for No. 15 Mississippi State, Edison returns the bulk of last year’s team, eight seniors and four starters, including Miss Basketball candidate Gabrielle Elliott (Clemson), a guard/forward; junior combo guard Damiya Hagemann, who has multiple Big Ten offers; point guard Daija Tyson (Bradley); guard Shaulana Wagner (Xavier); and Ariel Jenkins (Ferris State).

In addition, 6-0 Dareonna Little will be motivated to have a strong season after missing the majority of last season due to shoulder surgery. Sophomore Ruby Whitehorn, also 6-0, is another impact player.

“She’s a great rebounder, can finish around the rim and also play good post defense,” said Brown of Little.

More top teams

Aaliyah Nye

2.  East Lansing (20-3, Division 1)

Veteran coach Rob Smith has all five starters back from last year’s team, which was upset by Coldwater in a regional semifinal, along with transfer Lamariyee Williams (Oakland), who averaged 22 points last season for River Rouge.

East Lansing is led by Illinois-bound Aaliyah Nye, who averaged 17 points and can score in a variety of ways and should be a Miss Basketball candidate. Smith is extremely high on 5-7 sophomore guard Soraya Timms. Sanaya Gregory is a four-year starter at point guard and Ahlura Lofton is a defensive stopper.

“We’re a very good defensive team and we’re looking for consistency; that’s our M.O. this year, to play great defensive consistently, for 32 minutes,” said Smith, pointing out his team’s early-season 40-27 win over Division 3 state champion Pewamo-Westphalia.

East Lansing will play host to Edison Jan. 7.

3. Hartland (22-4, Division 1)

Hartland returns all five starters from last year’s state quarterfinal team.

Michigan-bound Whitney Sollom, a 6-4 post player, averaged 10.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and over three blocks last season. Point guard Nikki Dompierre and Madi Moyer are also key contributors, with Moyer averaging 8.1 points and six rebounds and Dompierre 7.7 points.

Sollom has already has a 21-rebound game this season.

“The strength of this team is experience,” Coach Don Palmer said. “All five starters have multiple years of varsity experience. It is a good defensive team with Sollom able to protect the basket after a defensive breakdown. We also have scoring balance.”

4. Pewamo-Westphalia (27-1, Division 3)

P-W returns the bulk of its state championship team, including Western Michigan-bound Hannah Spitzley (14 points, seven rebounds) and point guard Ellie Droste (Grand Valley), who averaged 14 points and 2.7 assists.

Spitzley and Droste helped P-W to an impressive 72-7 record the past three years, pushing Detroit Edison to the limit in the Class C state championship game in 2017 before falling, 46-44.

Perimeter threat Kiera Thelen and post player Addison Bauer are also returning starters for P-W, which has a strong schedule, losing to East Lansing and defeating Southfield A&T in the Ice Breaker Classic at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. Spitzley scored 17 and Thelen had 15 points in the win over A&T.

Cheyenne McEvans

5. Southfield A&T (24-2, Division 1)

A&T made a trip to Calvin College to compete in the Division 1 state championship game last season and returns a veteran group, led by Buffalo-bound guard/forward Cheyenne McEvans.

McEvans, 5-10, is athletic, physical and talented, averaging 17.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals last season. Kayiona Willis runs the offense for the third straight year while Jasmine Worthy provides the inside presence at 6-3, averaging a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) last season while blocking three shots a night.

Junior guard Kayla Trammer, sophomore guard Nia Lawson and 6-4 junior center Rhyen Williams are other key contributors.

“I believe we will be very good this year,” Coach Michele Marshall said. “As the season is progressing my young kids are truly starting to understand how to play the roles that will help my big three in McEvans, Worthy and Willis. We play aggressive defense, have strong guard play, share the ball well, and have an excellent post presence in Worthy.”

6. Flint Carman-Ainsworth (18-6, Division 1)

Carman-Ainsworth showcases a strong backcourt in Illinois bound-Aaliyah McQueen and point guard Chenelle King (Wayne State). McQueen, 5-9, averaged 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists last season.

Jessiana Aaron and Arie Lewis are also impact players with freshmen DeDe Smith and 6-0 Armonie Strozier also key contributors.

7. Ann Arbor Huron (12-10, Division 1)

Ann Arbor Huron could be the surprise team of the year.

Huron returns all five starters from last year’s team and that experience has turned into a strong 6-0 start this season, including wins over Wayne, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep and Muskegon, all teams that played in the state semifinals last season.

Huron’s backcourt is made up of Reeya Patel at the point and Siena Smith and Smith’s twin sister, Jadyn. Siena Smith is averaging 17 points and Patel 15 during the 6-0 start, with Jadyn Smith at nine points and six rebounds. Alexa Lyon and Khady Ba are 6-0 post players.

Lauren Licari

8. Birmingham Marian (21-2, Division 1)

Marian returns three starters from a team that lost to Grosse Pointe North in a regional semifinal.

Marian has size in 6-1 Lauren Licari, 6-0 junior Shannon Kennedy and 6-2 sophomore Sara Sylvester. Sophia Mancini is combo guard and sophomore Anna Herberholz can also handle the ball.

9. Wayne (24-3, Division 1)

Jarvis Mitchell’s teams are used to making deep runs in the postseason with last year’s team reaching the Final Four before a state semifinal loss to eventual state champion Saginaw Heritage.

Wayne returns talented 6-2 Alana Micheaux (11 points, 14 rebounds), Makailah Griggs-Zeigler and Jordan Wright to form a strong nucleus. Junior Lachelle Austin, a transfer from Detroit Henry Ford, should also be a key contributor.

10. Adrian Lenawee Christian (26-2, Division 4)

Lenawee Christian is capable of beating the top teams in the state despite competing in Class D/Division 4.

Lenawee Christian won the Division 4 state title last season and returns the Salenbien sisters with 6-3 junior Bree Salenbien (23 points, nine rebounds) leading the way. Bree has more than two dozen offers, including multiple Power Five teams, including Duke, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland and North Carolina. Danielle Salenbien (Hillsdale) averaged 14 points last season.

11. Walled Lake Western (23-2, Division 1)

Western has been atop the Lakes Valley Conference the past couple of years and returns one of the top backcourts in the state in Jenna Galecki and Olivia Warren to try and make a deep run in the postseason tournament. Lia Krawiec will also play a big role.

12. Macomb Dakota (12-8, Division 1)

Dakota is the MAC Red favorite and could make a big run in the state tourney with Ball State-bound Cam Grant, a 6-1 senior, back and healthy. She averaged 15.2 points and 10 rebounds in a season in which she missed 11 games due to an ankle injury.

Grant will have a strong supporting cast in sophomore Ella Burger, junior point guard Jaimee Moshenko and 6-2 Dena Moyer.

13. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (19-7, Division 3)

Arbor Prep is used to playing in late March, winning the Class C state championship in 2016, losing in the state title game in ’17 and ’18, and losing in a Division 3 state semifinal last season.

Arbor Prep is young and talented, starting four sophomores and a junior, led by its returning starter in high-scoring sophomore guard Mya Petticord (19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists). Kaiden Glenn, a transfer from Ann Arbor Huron who averaged 15 points last season, will be another impact player, along with Jazmin Chupp.

14. East Grand Rapids (20-3, Division 1)

EGR has dominated the OK Gold Division with an outstanding trio in junior Jillian Brown, sophomore Alli Carlson and Brown’s younger sister, freshman Macey Brown, who is already getting college attention.

EGR showed it will again be one of the premier teams in the Grand Rapids area when it avenged last year’s district loss to East Kentwood with a 50-43 win last week.

15. East Kentwood (19-5, Division 1)

Junior point guard Lexi McCully runs the show for East Kentwood and has multiple weapons to work with in 6-3 junior Kaybriana Hallman, junior forward Maddie Tillman and 5-10 sophomore Deyonce Thompson.

Keliese Christopher, a 5-11 junior, is the team’s defensive stopper.

16. Kalamazoo Central (14-7, Division 1)

K-Central showcases one of the most versatile players in the state in 6-0 junior Morasha Wiggins who has offers from Michigan, Michigan State and DePaul.

Wiggins averaged 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks last season. Sophomore guard Alaila Walker is another key contributor, showing her ability with a 34-point outing in an 80-63 win over St. Joseph last week, making eight 3-pointers.

Shannon Wheeler

17. Detroit Renaissance (13-7, Division 1)

Renaissance should be the top team in the PSL with a strong 1-2 punch in talented 5-4 junior point guard Kailee Davis, along with an inside presence in 6-2 junior Shannon Wheeler. Junior Nika Dorsey can also score inside while showing the ability to knock down the perimeter shot.

18. Brighton (21-3, Division 1)

Bowling Green-bound center Sophie Dziekan returns from last year’s team, which lost to Wayne in the KLAA championship game.

Dziekan has a strong supporting cast around her, including Martha Pietila and Bella Vogt.

19. Saginaw Heritage (25-2, Division 1)

Heritage lost the bulk of its state championship team, but still has a talented lineup with returning starters LoLo Reed and Keyonie Champion leading the way. Champion scored 12, making 6-of-7 shots from the field, in the state championship game win over Southfield A&T. Lauren Gunn will also be a key contributor.

T20. Michigan Center (19-3, Division 3)

Michigan Center has an experienced team, led by the 1-2 punch in point guard Teagan Haynes and perimeter threat Alize Tripp. Junior Shea Tripp provides inside scoring.

T20. St. Clair Shores Lakeview (19-6, Division 1)

Lakeview won its first regional title in school history and returns 6-6 center Joslyn Brennan and guard Kayla Austin.

Brennan (Grand Valley) averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks last season and should be one of the top posts in the state during her senior year.