Basketball

Michigan’s top 20 girls basketball teams

Warren Cousino holds up the trophy after defeating Detroit Martin Luther King 67-65, during the MHSAA girls basketball Class A finals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Warren Cousino holds up the trophy after defeating Detroit Martin Luther King 67-65, during the MHSAA girls basketball Class A finals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

1. Muskegon Mona Shores

Record last year: 21-4

Outlook: Jordan Walker is a legitimate Miss Basketball candidate, averaging 20 points per game last year along with 8.9 rebounds and five assists despite tearing her ACL and only being cleared to play last Dec. 1. Alyza Winston is a spectacular sophomore point guard. She averaged 17.4 points as a freshman, scoring 435 points. With perhaps the most explosive backcourt in the state, Mona Shores is looking for a visit to the Breslin.

2. Birmingham Detroit Country Day

Record last year: 24-2.

Outlook: The Lady Yellowjackets return four Division I prospects in Destiny Pitts, Tylar Bennett, Kaela Webb and Maxine Moore. Memories of last year’s semifinal loss are still in the minds of the team. To make sure the veterans stay sharp coach Frank Orlando has put together a monster schedule, featuring some of the top teams in Class A and B.

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3. Warren Cousino

Record last year: 23-4

Outlook: The defending Class A champions return four of five starters, led by Miss Basketball candidate Kierra Fletcher. She dominated play at the Breslin Center, shooting an amazing 72.2% from the field combined in the semifinal and final. She averaged 23 points, 9.8 rebounds, six steals and six assists as a junior. Sophomore guard Kate McArthur expanded her game and will be more than a three-point shooter. She averaged 13 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. The Patriots will be a tough out again.

4. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep

Record last year: 25-2

Outlook: The defending Class C champs lost their star player in Nastassja Chambers, but bring back four starters and a great transfer in Lasha Petree, a 6-foot junior guard who transferred from Salem with great shooting range and triple-double capabilities. Senior guard Rozhane Wells averaged 12 points a game last year and she’ll be flanked by Cydney Williams, the team’s leading rebounder last year, Adrienne Anderson and Kayla Knight.

5. Midland Dow

Record last year: 19-4

Outlook: With Saginaw Heritage and Midland around it’s tough to get out of the Saginaw Valley League, but Dow has experience, speed and some youth. Ellie Taylor (St. Louis University) averaged 18.8 points per game last year. Kaylee Wasco is a solid center. Molly Davis (9.8 points, four rebounds) has multiple D-I offers and Maizie Taylor had a solid freshman year, averaging 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds.

6. Saginaw Heritage

Record last year: 22-2

Outlook: Heritage is loaded and returns four starters from a year ago. Moira Joiner was an All-Stater as a freshman. Courtney McInerney is a solid 6-2 center. Junior Jessi Bicknell and sophomore Mallory McCartney started last year. Other key players are Shine Strickland-Gillis and Haley Brefka.

7. Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Record last year: 23-3

Outlook: Only one player graduated from last year’s team so CC will be a factor. Seniors Sophia Karasinski and Kyra Bussell have both committed to Central Michigan. Karasinski is a dynamic scorer with range and Bussell can score inside and out. Senior Shaniya Huggins is a lightning quick guard and Myka Cromwell is a crafty scorer with range. Senior Tess Ens is a four-sport athlete and a good rebounder. Other contributors will be Sophia Conroy, Abigail Tepper and Jakarri Alven, who was a state track champion as a freshman.

8. Detroit King

Record last year: 24-2

Outlook: King made it to the championship game, got down early and put on a furious rally before losing to Warren Cousino. Senior point guard Alicia Norman is a four-year starter and has been around forever. Tia Tedford played a significant role last year and should be an All-PSL candidate. Deljanae Williams will be a factor. King won’t be tall, but they’ll run and press and dominate the league.

9. Okemos

Record last year: 8-12

Outlook: Laya Hartman is ranked as the 29th-best sophomore in the class of 2019. The 5-11 guard averaged 18 points, six rebounds and four assists last year. She’ll get help from 6-foot freshman post player Jasmine Clerkley, who already has scholarship offers from Western and Central Michigan. Bergin Robinson is a solid three-point shooter and freshman Leah Zaleski is expected to be the starting point guard.

10. Port Huron Northern

Record last year: 21-5

Outlook: Eight of nine players return from a team that beat Warren Cousino twice last season and shared the MAC Red crown. Senior Bree Bauer is the post presence. She averaged 11.3 points per game last year. Junior guard Sami Klink averaged 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds. Senior Jenna Koppinger and Kathleen O’Connor round out the returning starters.

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11. Ann Arbor Huron

Record last year: 19-5

Outlook: The team was one game away from making it to the Breslin Center last year. Six core players return for coach Lindsay Klemmer. Senior Emily Marsh is 6-feet and can guard all five positions. She averaged nine points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots a game year. Senior Kara Wilson is a 5-7 guard with speed and strength and has committed to Illinois-Chicago. Junior Shamin Wambere is a 6-foot rising post player. Junior Sasha Thomas is a 5-6 combo guard who is a ball hawk on defense. Sophomore Eden Johnson is a 6-1 guard who transferred from Skyline. She can shoot, pass and defend.

12. Wayne Memorial

Record last year: 16-5

Outlook: The KLAA co-champs have all five starters back and are led by Camree’ Clegg (Clemson), who averaged 24.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. She gets plenty of help from Amara Chikwe (Youngstown State), who averaged a double-double a year ago, 11.5 points and 13 rebounds a game to go with four blocked shots. Jeanae Terry is a threat, bringing 13 points, five assists and 7.8 rebounds per game to the table as a point guard.

13. Southfield A&T

Record last year: N/A (new school)

Outlook: The Warriors are a new team, combining Southfield-Lathrup with Southfield High Schools. Deja Church (Michigan) can do it all at either guard or forward. Sophomore Alexis Johnson was a solid player last year for Southfield High and should form a solid 1-2 punch with Church. Freshman Cheyenne McEvans brings a big-time reputation to the team and should start.

14. Williamston

Record last year: 19-4

Outlook: Four key starters return for the Hornets, who lost in the regional semifinal. Maddie Watters is the leader, averaging 17.9 points last year. Allison Peplowski is an inside threat, scoring 6.7 points per game last year and 5.7 rebounds. Halle Wisbiski averaged six points per game and Elana Lycos 4.2 a year ago.

15. Lansing Waverly

Record last year: 14-8

Outlook: Six returning letter winners and three transfers should have Waverly in the mix. Alisia Smith is a 6-3 senior who averaged 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots per game. She’ll be joined on the front line by 6-2 junior Malin Smith, who averaged eight points and seven rebounds per game. Senior Maya Bennett and junior Jazlynn Wilcox will help the rotation along with Isabella Pizzo and Maya Garrett. Transfers include Tazjah Pruitt and Ciara Wilheart from Lansing Everett, and Evelyn Taylor from East Lansing. If the team meshes it could be dangerous in March.

16. Flint Carman-Ainsworth

Record last year: 15-6

Outlook: Another team in the tough Saginaw Valley. Sophomore Destiny Strother leads the returners. A pure shooter, she averaged 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.2 assists per game. She’ll get help from senior center Shakara Johnson, who averaged 6.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game. Three freshmen will contribute: Xeryia Tartt, Chenelle King and Jessiana Aaron.

17. Marshall

Record last year: 27-1

Outlook: The defending Class B champions have six players back that should keep them in the hunt for another trip to the Breslin Center. Senior forward Nikki Tucker and senior guard Jill Konkle are both All-State players and will pace the offense, while captain Taryn Long is a solid guard. Tucker averaged 12.7 points and eight rebounds per game while Konkle was at 8.2 points and 4.5 boards. Carlee Long was an All-League performer and is one of four captains. Georgianna Pratley is the center while junior forward/guard Natalie Tucker is in the rotation.

18. Hartland

Record last year: 15-5

Outlook: Despite a winning record last season, the perception was Hartland underachieved, especially on rebounding and defense. Lexey Tobel has committed to Detroit Mercy after averaging 14.1 points as a junior. Graysen Cockerham led the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game. Michelle Moraitis is the team’s best defensive player and junior Emily Messner will be a top contributor. Freshman Whitney Sollom, a 6-2 post player, has already garnered interest from MSU, U-M and Louisville.

19. Muskegon Reeths-Puffer

Record last year: 15-6

Outlook: Nine seniors return, so coach Brandon Barry is expecting a big year. Delaney Bolles, Brooke Larabee, Elysia Mattos and Artrese Williams are the returning starters. Bolles led the team in rebounds, Larabee in scoring and Mattos in assists. Williams is a defensive demon and heart and soul of the team.

20. St. John’s

Record last year: 22-4

Outlook: Two starters return from last year, junior Maddie Maloney, a first-team All-League performer who has started three years on the varsity, and senior Erika Ballinger, another first-team performer in the backcourt. Other returning players are Nina Bozzo, Olivia Maurer, Alexis Stillman and Emily Thelen.

Other contenders

DeWitt

Northville

Pittsford

Flint Hamady

Macomb Dakota

Canton

Ithaca

Dearborn Heights Robichaud

Waterford Kettering

Hudsonville

Grosse Pointe North

Detroit Edison

St. Ignace

North Farmington

Goodrich

Harper Woods Chandler Park

Romeo

Belleville

Bay City Glenn

Farmington Hills Mercy

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