Greater Kalamazoo Area 2017-18 Girls Basketball Preview

Girls BB
The 2017-18 MHSAA girls basketball regular season kicks off in the final week of November.  This post takes a look at the teams in the greater Kalamazoo area and features teams within the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC), Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC), Wolverine Conference, Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph (BCS) Red, Southwest 10, and Interstate 8.

(NOTE: Not all teams have rosters and/or statistical information available from the previous season.)

SAC Valley
Galesburg-Augusta 17-4 12-0 Lost in District
Schoolcraft 20-6 9-3 Quarterfinalist
Hackett Catholic 18-6 9-3 Regional Semifinalist
Constantine 11-11 4-8 Lost in District
Kalamazoo Christian 10-11 3-9 Lost in District
Delton Kellogg 8-13 3-9 Lost in District
Lawton 9-13 2-10 Lost in District Final
SAC Lakeshore
Watervliet 16-5 11-1 Lost in District
Gobles 16-5 11-1 Lost in District
Coloma 10-11 7-5 Lost in District
Lawrence 12-10 7-3 (Central) Lost in District
Martin 8-12 6-4 (Central) Lost in District
Saugatuck 7-14 4-8 Lost in District
Fennville 3-16 0-11 Lost in District

Of the teams in the SAC, Schoolcraft made the deepest postseason run of 2016-17.   The Eagles graduated five seniors, but all three of their all-conference selections return.   Lydia Goble (All-Valley) and Kennedy Leighton (Honorable Mention) enter their senior seasons, along with sophomore All-Valley pick Gabi Saxman.

Valley champ Galesburg-Augusta will be seeing a number of new faces, losing six seniors including honorable mention All-State forward Madelyne Standley.   The Rams bring back a honorable mention SAC selection in junior guard Sam Verburg.

Hackett Catholic had three All-Valley selections last season with only one gone in MHSAA Scholar-Athlete winner Hope Baldwin.   Returning are All-State honorable mention Sydney Preston and Savannah Madden, their top two scorers.   Preston earned Kalamazoo Gazette Dream Team 1st-Team, averaging 15.8 points per game.

Don’t be surprised to see Delton Kellogg make some noise in the strong Valley division as well.   Their three honorable mention SAC selections from last year return with seniors Sam Mohn and Lilly Howard, plus junior Lexi Parsons.   Mohn set the school single-season record for assists last season and Parsons averaged a double-double early last season.

Over in the Lakeshore, Watervliet loses both All-Lakeshore selections from last year (Logan Mizwicki & Katie Schultz) and one of their three honorable mentions (Casie Gohn).   The other two Panther honorable mentions return for their senior seasons, Jaelyn Pitre & Zoe Smith.

Gobles only had one senior last season, although Hailey Baxter and her double-double per game will certainly be missed.  Fellow first-team Lakeshore selection Maddie Tiller returns along with two honorable mentions in Kelsie Martin and Libbie Nason.

Lawrence had a pair of players that averaged 16 points per game in 16-17.   They lose Daelynn Jackson-Peek, who had averaged a double-double.   They return honorable mention All-Stater Kaytlyn Tidey, who also averaged around four assists and four steals per game as a junior.

Lakeview 21-3 10-0 Regional Semifinalist
Kalamazoo Central 20-4 8-2 State Quarterfinalist
Gull Lake 13-8 6-4 Lost in District
Mattawan 6-16 4-6 Lost in District
Loy Norrix 4-17 2-8 Lost in District
Battle Creek Central 2-19 0-10 Lost in District
St. Joseph 17-5 8-0 Lost in District
Lakeshore 18-7 6-2 Regional Semifinalist
Portage Northern 10-11 3-5 Lost in District
Portage Central 10-12 3-5 Lost in District
Niles 4-17 0-8 Lost in District

Kalamazoo Central made the deepest playoff run out of the SMAC in 16-17.   They’ll need to replace Kalamazoo Gazette Player of the Year Arjanae Morgan, 2nd-Team Gazette Toshanae Owens, plus three other seniors.    The Maroon Giants do have the benefit of eight of last year’s varsity players back as seniors for this season.   Talia Edmonds and Markiela Woodson have starting experience.

Lakeview graduated seven seniors from last season, including second-team All-State Emily Eldridge and honorable mention All-State Ava Cook.  They, along with fellow seniors Jessalynn Genier and Chloe McAllister, made the Battle Creek Enquirer All-City team.

Gull Lake loses six seniors, but they got significant time out of six underclassmen in 16-17.  One Blue Devil made the Battle Creek Enquirer All-Area team in Ashton Whitman, who topped Gull Lake in points (10.5) and rebounds (7.5) per game last season as a junior.

Although they struggled last season, Mattawan had many young players earn valuable varsity experience.   Among them was Gazette honorable mention Natalie Foster, who stands in at 6’5” in only her sophomore year.

Loy Norrix has the benefit of bringing back their top scorer (Nuru Lewis) and third scorer (Falon Williams) for their senior campaigns.  The Knights also return their #2 rebounder from last season in junior Abigail Roberts.

Over in the SMAC West, for Lakeshore, six seniors are gone.   Four of those seniors started in their Regional semifinal loss, with the returning starter guard Cassie Pallett.

For St. Joseph, only three graduated, but 1st-team All-State selection Shelby Madison will be difficult to replace.   Detroit Free Press 3rd-team All-State pick Anna Fischer is among a solid group back for the Bears.

Portage Central loses top scorer MacKenzie Pikkaart and two other seniors, but the Mustangs got starts and significant playing time from numerous underclassmen.

Meanwhile, Portage Northern had a very senior-heavy lineup last season.   Returning junior Trinity Posey will be their top returning scorer.

Wolverine North
Otsego 20-4 7-1 Regional Finalist
Plainwell 15-7 6-2 Lost in District
Allegan 15-8 4-4 Lost in District
Paw Paw 9-12 3-5 Lost in District
South Haven 5-17 0-8 Lost in District
Wolverine South
Edwardsburg 19-3 8-0 Lost in District
Vicksburg 10-11 5-3 Lost in District
Three Rivers 10-14 4-4 Regional Semifinalist
Sturgis 4-17 3-5 Lost in District
Dowagiac 3-17 0-8 Lost in District

Otsego had the deepest postseason run from the Wolverine Conference and has the players back for another strong run.   Four of their starting five from their regional final are back, losing All-Wolverine 1st-Teamer Erica Drobny and three other seniors.   Liz Barwegen and Mattison Rayman are returning 1st-Teamers along with 2nd-Teamer Jaycie Callaway.  Those three averaged together around 30 points per game.

Just down the road, Plainwell must replace six seniors, including their top four scorers from 16-17.  The top two returning scorers, Rebecca Gibson and Alivia TerMeer, both averaged just under four points per game last season as freshmen.

Allegan had two players earn All-Wolverine honors last season and must replace them both, point guard Leslie Scane and center Kara Bishop.

Paw Paw lost seven seniors, including 2nd-team Wolverine choice and top scorer Hannah Warner and top rebounder Mackenzie Newell.   Their second and third-highest scoring players do come back in Brooklyn Walker and Emma Johnson.  Johnson missed a good chunk of last season to injury and Paw Paw hopes she’ll be an impact player in 17-18.

Although South Haven struggled last year and did graduate five seniors, the Rams bring back 2nd-team Wolverine Frances Lyons, who averaged around a double-double per contest.

In the South, league-champ Edwardsburg returns Kaitlyn Zarycki, who grabbed 1st-team Wolverine and honorable mention All-State as a sophomore.   Honorable mention Wolverine Alexa Markel is back as well for her senior season, although they did lose honorable mention Noelle Kraus and 2nd-Teamer Brayden Curtis.  The Eddies also have the incoming JV class, coming off an unbeaten season.

Three Rivers surprised Edwardsburg and others for a District title last season.  Three Wildcat seniors graduated, including #2 scorer Rhyeli Krause.   Back is 2nd-Teamer Hadley Miller, who led Three Rivers in points and rebounds as a freshman, plus #3 scorer Arionne Fowlkes for her senior year.

Vicksburg lost seven seniors and both of their All-Wolverine selections, 1st-Teamer Layna Steele and honorable mention Kennedy Nabozny.

Dowagiac only loses two seniors, including Wolverine honorable mention Taylor Hulett.   Their other honorable mention player returns for her junior season, Amiyah Smith.

Comstock 18-4 9-1 Lost in District
Buchanan 16-4 9-1 Lost in District
Brandywine 19-5 6-4 Regional Semifinalist
Berrien Springs 6-12 4-6 Lost in District
Parchment 5-14 1-9 Lost in District
Bridgman 4-17 1-9 Lost in District

Comstock could be a very dangerous team this season, as they return their top five scorers from 16-17.   Daisy Ansel grabbed 4th-team All-State and Kalamazoo Gazette Dream Team as a sophomore last season, topping the Colts with around 15 points per game and nine rebounds per game.   Ahkyla Blakely was 2nd-Team Gazette off 12.7 points per game and seven boards per contest.

Buchanan saw two AP honorable mention All-State selections.  Back is Jayla Bibbs, gone is Brooke Wesner.

Parchment had a very young squad last season and had starts from juniors, sophomores, and freshmen.   The most notable senior loss was starter Haley Knapp.

Interstate 8
Marshall 23-3 14-0 State Semifinalist
Jackson Northwest 13-8 10-4 Lost in District
Coldwater 17-6 9-5 Lost in District
Pennfield 13-8 9-5 Lost in District
Harper Creek 12-10 7-7 Lost in District
Hastings 9-13 5-9 Lost in District
Lumen Christi 4-18 1-13 Lost in District
Parma Western 3-18 1-13 Lost in District

No girls team in the area made a deeper run last season than Marshall.   However, of the six players from their main rotation in 16-17, five are gone, including 1st-Team All-State Nikki Tucker and honorable mention Jill Konkle.  The lone returning starter is Davenport commit Natalie Tucker.   The rest of squad’s varsity experience was mostly limited to blowouts.

Alternatively, almost all of Coldwater‘s rotation last year were underclassmen.  Their top four scorers last season, Carlee Crabtree, Malorie Rzepka, Tyler Scheid, and Olivia Foley, were either sophomores or freshmen.  The next two in line, Izzy Foley and Jamie Wellet, both were juniors.

Jackson Northwest graduated two seniors and they return their top scorer in Sydney Shafer, plus sophomore Jozie Bontrager, among others.

Pennfield only lost one senior from their 16-17 crew and has their entire starting lineup back.   Three Panthers made the Battle Creek Enquirer All-City team; Naomi Davis, Alicia Lake, and Claire LeRoux.

Harper Creek lost five seniors, most notably point guard Jacey Bowers.  The top two scoring Beavers are back in junior Faith Hayes (14.3 PPG) and sophomore Maddie Alexander (12.9 PPG), both part of the Enquirer All-City team.

Lumen Christi graduated four seniors, among them top scorer Megan Saunders.  Their most dangerous returner is Taylor Smith, who tallied 8.2 points per game and 9.4 boards as a junior.

Southwest 10
Centreville 19-2 Lost in District
Marcellus 15-6 Lost in District
Mendon 10-10 Regional Semifinalist
Cassopolis 11-11 Lost in District
Hartford 11-11 Lost in District
White Pigeon 7-12 Lost in District
Bangor 5-15 Lost in District
Bloomingdale 4-15 Lost in District
Decatur 3-17 Lost in District
Eau Claire 0-19 Lost in District

Centreville certainly enters the first ever Southwest 10 basketball season as the favorite, returning BCS-Blue MVP and honorable mention All-State Samara Schlabach for her junior campaign.   They had two other BCS 1st-Teamers, losing Skyler DeMeyer, but bringing back sophomore Joanna Larsen.  Two others earned BCS honorable mention and are back as seniors, Carly Todd and Carlee Odom.

Mendon was the lone district champ within the Southwest 10 teams, but will have to replace four of their top five scorers.  The one returner is BCS honorable mention Hayley Kramer, who averaged around 6-7 points and rebounds per game as a sophomore.”

Marcellus had five players earn SAC Central honors.   They bring back one 1st-Teamer (Morgan Hartline) and lose one (Jade Sibley).   They lose two honorable mentions (Olivia Wildes and Aleyna Hutson), but return one (Grace Mihills).

Cassopolis should be a threat simply because of Santaja Gibson, who posted 17 points and 11 rebounds per game last season as a junior.   Additionally, four of the top five scorers for the Rangers return.

The first MHSAA varsity girls basketball contests begin in the final week of November.   Make sure to follow the Slocum Sports Network for girls and boys basketball broadcasts in the greater Kalamazoo area throughout 2017-18.   Also stay tuned for the area boys basketball preview in the coming days. 

2 responses

  1. […] The first MHSAA varsity boys basketball contests begin December 4.   Make sure to follow the Slocum Sports Network for girls and boys basketball broadcasts in the greater Kalamazoo area throughout 2017-18.   For the girls season preview, click here. […]


  2. […] (BCS) conference and their first girls basketball title in any league since 1992.   The Colts return their top-five scorers from last season, including fourth-team All-State selection Daisy Ansel and second-team Kalamazoo Gazette Ahkyla […]


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