It’s never easy narrowing a region’s worth of programs down to the top five players. Especially in a year that turned out to be memorable for several area girls’ basketball teams.
Frankenmuth spent the entire year in the Class B top 10, and won district and Tri-Valley Conference East titles. Reese won the Greater Thumb West championship, finally disposed of Saginaw Nouvel in the playoffs, and advanced to the Class C regional final. Marlette won the Greater Thumb West with a 9-1 record. And Kingston made it all the way to the Class D quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
Unionville-Sebewaing Area also made some noise locally, handing Reese its only conference loss and winning a Class C district title. Millington, without a senior on its roster, went an impressive 12-8 during the regular season against a tough TVC-East schedule.
But there can only be five players on the court at one time. And there are only five players on the All-Advertiser first team.
Seniors Brayenne Benner (Frankenmuth), Emily Fleischmann (Reese), Sarah Savage (Kingston) and Haley Cross (Marlette) all led their teams to league championships. Lauren Adam and her USA teammates fell one game short, but the sophomore will have two more chances to right the ship.
The second team is made up of five players with first-team potential. Frankenmuth senior Keri Frahm has college-level talent. The 6-foot-1 forward is heading to Ferris St. thanks to her academic prowess, but don’t be surprised to see her on the court one day with Benner. Marlette sophomore Emily Schaub is an all-state hurdler, and exceptional athlete who led the Red Raiders in scoring. Reese senior Maddie Coulter is a lights-out shooter who hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter against Cass City earlier this season. Junior Marisa Morton led USA in scoring, and has the ability to score inside and out in bunches. And senior Becca Huizer often put the Vassar basketball team on her back, and ended her career as one of the best players in school history.
Here is a look at the All-Advertiser Girls’ Basketball Team:
Player: Brayene Benner
Highlights: 6-foot-1 forward averaged team highs of 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game; heading to Ferris St. University on a basketball scholarship; helped the Eagles to a No. 9 ranking, Tri-Valley Conference East title and Class B district championship; honorable mention AP all-state.
Coach Tom Keller: “I think sometimes people don’t realize all the different things she does and the impact she has on a game. She’s led us in scoring, in rebounds, in steals and in blocks. She’s had as dominant a year from a player as we’ve had in a long time. She’s easily the most athletic post player I’ve had in my 10 years of coaching.”
Player: Emily Fleischmann
Highlights: 6-foot-3 center is also a standout on the Rockets’ track and field team; averaged 12 points and Advertiser-area best 14 rebounds per game; helped Reese to Greater Thumb West and Class C district championships; honorable mention AP all-state; scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds in district win against No. 10 Saginaw Nouvel.
Coach Josh Pickell: “A lot of our offense went through Emily. We’d pound it down low and if she was double teamed, she’d get it out to one of our three-point shooters. Anyone who can put up 12 points and 14 rebounds each game is obviously someone that’s going to help you win.”
Player: Sarah Savage
Highlights: 5-foot-9 guard/forward led the Cardinals to the Class D quarterfinals for the second year in a row; won four North Central Thumb League championships in her four years on varsity; led The Advertiser in scoring with a 15.7 per game average; first-team all-NCTL the last two years; led Kingston with 4.2 assists per game; honorable mention AP all-state.
Coach Jay Green: “She’s just kind of the ultimate team player, and we needed her to step into that leadership role this year — and she did an outstanding job. Sarah’s our valedictorian, she’s a good role model and she works hard for everything. She just makes plays on the court, some nights its her scoring, other nights it’s eight or nine assists. Whatever it takes to win.”
Player: Haley Cross
Highlights: 5-foot-9 forward earned first-team all-Greater Thumb East for second consecutive year; averaged 11.7 points and 8.4 rebounds a game; helped the Red Raiders to a 9-1 league record and GTE championship; committed to play next year at Mid-Michigan Community College.
Coach Cathy Storm: “She’s very competitive, that’s what makes her so special. You never have to guess what she’s going to bring every night, she was going to show up, work hard and give it her all. And she’s a great leader.”
Player: Lauren Adam
School: Unionville-Sebewaing Area
Highlights: 5-foot-6 point guard averaged nearly 10 points and a team-high four assists per game; high energy player that improved immensely over the course of the season; helped Patriots to 17-7 record and Class C district championship; first-team all-Greater Thumb West selection.
Coach Lindsay Bitzer: “It’s a big jump from JV to varsity and I think mid-year she grew in comfort on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, other than (Laker guard) Mariah Cook, I don’t know if there’s another point guard in our league that can create for others, but also for herself like she can. And she’s a gym rat, so she’s going to get better.”
Keri Frahm Sr. Frankenmuth 11.4 ppg
Emily Schaub So. Marlette 12.6 ppg
Marisa Morton Jr. USA 10.0 ppg
Maddie Coulter Sr. Reese 10.7 ppg
Becca Huizer Sr. Vassar 13.0 ppg
Katelyn Smith Akron-Fairgrove
Lauryn Frenzel Mayville
Sayge Cuthrell Cass City
Hannah Hall Millington
Haley Trickey Millington
Kayla Petzold Millington
Jaylee Burnham Vassar
Taylor Findlay Reese
Carlee Selle Reese
Abbey Ackerman Reese
Kayla Gremel USA
Nicole Bauer USA
Maddie Cofer Kingston
Kali Powell Kingston
Carley Smith Kingston
Caitlin Quade Marlette
Madison Wiskur Frankenmuth
Kelsie Kujat Frankenmuth
Cameryn Brown Caro
Courtney Wightman Owendale-Gagetown