Top 16 girls basketball teams (and five contenders)

Top 16 girls basketball teams (and five contenders)

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Top 16 girls basketball teams (and five contenders)

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Southfield-Lathrup, led by senior Antoinette Miller and junior Deja Church, can run, jump, defend and kill defenses with its incredible skills.

Southfield-Lathrup, led by senior Antoinette Miller and junior Deja Church, can run, jump, defend and kill defenses with its incredible skills.

1. Southfield-Lathrup

2014-15 record: 21-2.

Outlook: The Lady Chargers, led by senior Antoinette Miller and junior Deja Church, are loaded. They can run, jump, defend and kill defenses with their incredible skills. Miller, headed to Cincinnati, averaged 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game and was all-state, all-area and All-OAA last season. She can get to the basket with ease and is a tenacious defender. Church is being courted by a ton of Division I schools after averaging 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals a game last year. Then there are the twin towers: seniors Taiye and Kehinde Bello. Taiye is 6-feet-3 and averaged a double-double last season — 12 points and 10 rebounds — while chipping in two blocked shots. Kehinde, 6-4, chipped in three points, six rebounds, and four blocked shots and is a defensive stopper who protects the rim. Junior Benjanae Smith is expected to be the fifth starter, and the bench is loaded with Shawna Manning, Xavi Cobb and sophomore Kamryn Collier.

2. Birmingham Detroit Country Day

2014-15 record: 23-4.

Outlook: The Lady Yellowjackets are the defending Class B champions. Destiny Pitts may be the best junior in the state. She averaged 17 points and five rebounds per game last season and can hurt teams inside and outside. The middle is covered by 6-4 Tyler Bennett, who averaged eight points and nine rebounds a game as a sophomore. If her offensive game expands, forget about it. Senior guard Arika Colbert is a solid defensive player, and 5-7 sophomore Kaela Webb scored a team-high 20 points in the championship game. Maxine Moore and Sheldon Bochenek, a 6-1 junior forward, will be in the rotation.

3. Muskegon Mona Shores

2014-15 record: 20-2.

Outlook: Star junior guard Jordan Walker is already committed to Western Michigan. She had a great sophomore season, averaging 19 points, 8.2 rebounds and three assists per game. The three-year starter is surrounded by plenty of help with 5-10 junior DeDe Trotter and Mackenzie Quinn. Ryleigh Wehler is a talented sophomore while Nia Miskel is a solid defender and good athlete.

4. Ann Arbor Huron

2014-15 record: 21-2.

Outlook: Huron has had a stranglehold on the Southeastern Conference Red Division, and this year looks no different. Three starters return along with two others who saw significant time. Seniors Cheah Rael-Whitsitt and Mia Long will anchor the team, along with Emily Marsh and Kara Wilson. Rael-Whitsitt, a 5-10 power forward, averaged 8.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game a year ago. Junior guard Kaylyn Brownlee is expected to have a breakout season. Marsh should be a good one, and newcomers Sasha Thomas, Dani DiGiovine, Shamim Wambere and Michaela Glenn provide depth. A bunch of newcomers should help Huron stay on top. The team has a killer schedule that features Arbor Prep, Midland Dow, Southfield Lathrup and Country Day.

5. Muskegon

2014-15 record: 13-11.

Outlook: Madreika Cook (Michigan State) is one of the state’s most versatile players and can dominate any defense from any spot on the floor. She is a nationally-ranked recruit and is in for a big year. Junior forward/center Tierra Williams will provide help along with freshman forward Diynsti Dowell. Junior Andrea Pullman and senior Nana Kitchen will wreak havoc in the backcourt.

6. Bay City Glenn

2014-15 record: 15-4.

Outlook: Nine players return from a team that lost to top-ranked Midland Bullock Creek in overtime in the districts. Center Cassidy Boensch is a threat in the middle who has scored 939 points, pulled down nearly 700 rebounds and blocked 400 shots. Jenai LaPorte is a four-year starter who has signed with Grand Valley State. She’s the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,152 points. Back from an ACL injury is Kalle Martinez, a junior who has a school-record 35 points in a game and has committed to play at CMU. Jamie Brisson is a four-year returning starter. Other players in the rotation are junior Kenedy Clyde, sophomore Jericho Long, Megan Luczak and Jessica Duncan. Maddie Payne will see action on the wing, and other bench help comes from Dakota Cunningham, Elisabeth Christie, Olivia Nicholas and Savannah Solomon.

7. Kalamazoo Central

2014-15 record: 20-5

Outlook: This could be the team making it to the Breslin Center from the west side of the state in Class A. Deep and talented, seniors Sadia Johnson and Taylor Washington will lead the way, but the most talented player could be underclassman Toshanae Owens, a matchup nightmare for opponents. The three will receive plenty of help from Arjanae Morgan.

8. Flint Hamady

2014-15 record: 26-2.

Outlook: Keith Smith’s crew lost to Calumet in the state final, so Hamady will be hungry. Senior guard Jalisha Terry will be the leader and is a proficient scorer. She’ll get plenty of help from a veteran crew that consists of Krystal Rice, Deajah Cofield, Sasha Penn and Talaka Wallace.

9. Detroit King

2014-15 record: 24-2.

Outlook: The Lady Crusaders lost just two games last year, and both were to Birmingham Marian, the eventual Class A state champion. As always, King will be a threat in the Detroit Public School League but must replace a boatload of starters. Coach William Winfield will run, and run, and run with this group led by Alicia Norman, a junior who already is a three-year starter.

10. Benton Harbor

2014-15 record: 20-6.

Outlook: Kysre Gondrezick is the state’s best player and will run the point. The Michigan commit averaged 25.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 3.6 steals per game. She’s expected to get help from 6-2 junior Kaniya Washington, who will defend and be able to score in the post. Guard Juwana Young averaged 10.2 points per game. Seniors Kaleia Easterling and Nachell Dudley will provide depth and talented sophomore Tatyana Bruce will be a spark in the backcourt.

11. Midland Dow

2014-15 record: 20-3.

Outlook: A great season was ruined by Saginaw Heritage in the district final. Dow is the defending Saginaw Valley League champs. The returning starters all led by all-state candidate Ellie Taylor, a 5-9 junior guard who averaged 14 points, five rebounds and three assists per game and opened the season with a school-record 44 points. Junior post player Kaylee Wasco is 6-2 and averaged nine points and seven rebounds last year. Asjia Blanton looks to overcome a knee injury after averaging eight points and five rebounds per game a year ago. Nadia Atton is a 6-foot junior who’ll play volleyball in college. Rounding out the rotation are senior guard Alexie Flaminio, freshman guard Molly Davis and freshman guard Maizie Taylor.

12. Flushing

2014-15 record: 24-1.

Outlook: A state title hopeful will be led by senior center Clare Glowniak, a 6-2 force inside. She was first team all-state and already has signed with Bowling Green. Breanna Perry is a 6-foot junior who was first team all-metro and is picking up Division I offers. Lauren Newman also is a D-I talent and will handle the shooting guard duties. Alongside her will be 5-5 junior point guard Kamryn Chappell. Last year’s run was led by four sophomores and a junior, so Flushing has been battle-tested.

13. Grand Rapids Catholic Central

2014-15 record: 23-3.

Outlook: Five players who saw heavy duty return, led by juniors Sophia Karasinski and Kyra Bussell. Both have committed to Central Michigan. Karasinski averaged 10.2 points, 2.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. Bussell shot 50% from the field while scoring 8.5 points per game. Junior guard Shaniya Huggins is drawing Division II attention. The guard-forward heavy lineup features senior JoAnn Torres and junior Myka Cromwell. Three players off a 19-1 JV squad will provide depth, and two talented freshmen guards could contribute on varsity.

14. Williamston

2014-15 record: 19-2.

Outlook: A senior and two sophomores return for coach Pete Cool. Senior Renee Sturm averaged 10 points a game last year and has already committed to Ferris State. Sophomore Maddie Watters averaged 10 points a game, and fellow sophomore Allison Peplowski chipped in five points per game and is ready to have a big season. Cool will use the early part of the season to build chemistry.

15. Waterford Kettering

2014-15 record: 23-2.

Outlook: Even though the team has three starters returning, coach Ronald Woodhull said Kettering would be young after losing to eventual Class A state champ Birmingham Marian a year ago. Senior Haley Tewes is a combo guard with size at 5-11. Emily Bernas is 5-10 and a three-point threat who has worked on attacking the basket. Lillia Schoof is a 6-foot junior who is an excellent athlete, can rebound and nearly averaged a double-double in the state tournament. Sophomore Marnae Holland is in line for a starter’s role, and at 5-10, she’s a good defender and slasher. Senior guard Sammi Shaner and junior forward Maddy Kase round out the rotation.

16. Ypsilanti Arbor Prep

2014-15 record: 22-4.

Outlook: Graduation losses will hurt the team after a state semifinal appearance, but the squad is in good hands with Nastassja Chambers back. She averaged 15.9 points, 3.6 steals and 2.1 assists per game and led the team in scoring as a sophomore and junior. She’ll get help from Cydney Williams and juniors Rohzane Wells, Adrienne Anderson and Kayla Wright.

Five more contenders:

DeWitt (25-2)

Outlook: The Class A runner-ups return just one starter in 5-10 senior Lilly George. She averaged eight points and five rebounds a game and has committed to Ferris State. Junior forward Summer Ward played a key role off the bench last season and is rehabbing from an ACL tear. Other key contributors are expected to be 5-10 senior forward Gabby Iacobellis, senior guard Bailey Slater, junior guard Jessah McManus and junior guard Mackenzie Dawes.

Flint Powers (12-9)

Outlook: Powers is determined to get past Goodrich, a nemesis in an extremely tough district. Francesca Coury is the team’s best player after averaging 18 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. She has committed to Saginaw Valley and expanded her game. Three starters will help Coury: Rachel Phillpotts, who averaged 10 points per game last year; junior point guard Anna Ruhstorfer, who also averaged 10 points per game last season and is emerging as a solid player; and junior Abbey Clothier, who contributed six points per game and is a great athlete who can do a little bit of everything.

Grosse Pointe South (18-5)

Outlook: The cupboard isn’t bare for the Blue Devils. They’ll have a shorter bench and taller players. A team that had speed and quickness is now huge on the inside. Anna Carmody moves into the point guard spot after being a shooting guard last season. Senior Margaret Brennan is a physical 5-11 post player, and she’ll be joined by 6-3 Benna Ames, who can score inside. Sophomore Grace Foster is a 6-foot promising youngster, and 6-3 Margot Baer gives coach Kevin Richard even more size.

Saginaw Heritage (22-4)

Outlook: Heritage lost to DeWitt in the Class A state semifinals a year ago and has two players capable of getting it back this year. Sophomore Jaela Richardson is the daughter of former Saginaw High, Michigan State and NBA star Jason Richardson. She averaged eight points and eight rebounds a year ago. She’ll get plenty of help from junior Courtney McInerney, who started last year and averaged seven points and five rebounds per game. Junior guard Haley Brefka started a year ago. The team is deep with good size but has three freshmen and two sophomores in the rotation.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (23-4)

Outlook: Liggett reached the regional final for the sixth consecutive year before losing to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep. Junior point guard Nia Ahart is being looked at by Division I schools. She averaged 11.2 points and 4.6 assists per game a year ago. She’ll be teamed in the backcourt with senior shooting guard Kendall McConico. She averaged 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, and the duo is considered the best backcourt in the MIAC. Help should come from senior Anna Majewski as the team continues to play up-tempo basketball.

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