Selecting the finalists for this season’s Miss Basketball Award was no easy task, said Dorene Ingalls, the St. Ignace girls basketball coach who serves as chairwoman for the state’s top individual honor.
The award, given annually to the state’s top senior by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, started with a list of 10 candidates and was narrowed down to five finalists – all guards.
“The five candidates have been consistently the cream of the crop throughout their prep careers,” Ingalls said.
The finalists are:
• Deja Church, Southfield A&T
• Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino
• Kamaria McDaniel, Dearborn Heights Robichaud
• Destiny Pitts, Birmingham Detroit Country Day
• Jordan Walker, Muskegon Mona Shores
The winner will be announced March 13 and honored at the Free Press.
Ingalls said the committee did an excellent job of selecting names familiar to most fans.
Fletcher, who is 5-feet-9 and rated a five-star prospect by ESPN, has signed with Georgia Tech. She helped Cousino win a state championship last season and had recruiting interest from Division I programs Notre Dame, Illinois and Minnesota.
Walker, who committed to Western Michigan in 2015, is a 5-8 point guard who pushed Mona Shores to a 14-3 record. She became the fastest Sailor to score 1,000 points last season and set the school record for career points last month.
Pitts, who stands 6 feet, is a four-star guard and Minnesota signee. ESPN ranks her the No. 62 player in the nation. She helped Country Day to a 16-0 record.
Church, a 5-10 three-star guard who signed with Michigan, averages 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 steals. Southfield is 11-4 and in first place in the Oakland Activities Association’s Red Division.
McDaniel, a 5-10 shooting guard, helped Robichaud to a 10-7 record. She cracked the 1,000-point plateau this season and is a McDonald’s All-American Game nominee. The three-star recruit signed with Penn State.
In December, each of the five girls were ranked in the top 20 on the Free Press’ list of the top 100 girls basketball players in Michigan.