Division 3: Hemlock rolls past Hart into state final

Published 10:29 am Friday, March 17, 2023


Special for MHSAA.com


EAST LANSING — Hemlock certainly made up for a lost opportunity in its Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 semifinal against Hart on Thursday.

In 2021, after advancing to the Semifinals for the first time, Hemlock had to withdraw from the tournament after a positive COVID-19 test was discovered before its scheduled game at Breslin Center against Grass Lake.

Earning its way back to the Division 3 final four this year, Hemlock played for that 2021 squad and this year’s team with intensity from the opening tip.

Instead of playing nervous in its first Semifinal game, Hemlock came out like it was playing in the comforts of home during a December practice, storming out to a 21-1 lead after the first quarter en route to a 57-26 win over the Pirates.

The Huskies will meet Blissfield at 4 p.m. Saturday for the Division 3 title in a matchup of two teams both looking to win a Finals championship for the first time.

Kylee Miller (1) is defended by Marianna VanAgtmael (23).“I’ve received so many well wishes and texts from players who didn’t get that opportunity who were on that team and were encouraging these girls,” Hemlock head coach Scott Neumeyer said. “I told them that they should’ve had that opportunity. I hope they felt they were a big part of this.”

Senior Regan Finkbeiner led all scorers with 24 points, and junior Lauren Borsenik had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Hemlock (25-3).

Finkbeiner went 9 of 13 from the field overall and 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while Borsenik went 8-of-10 from the field.

Senior Aspen Boutell scored seven points to lead the way for Hart (24-4), which was making its first trip to the semifinals.

“They came out and really executed the game plan,” Hart head coach Travis Rosema said of Hemlock. “We had some nerves and had some shots that didn’t fall. But they executed better than us.”

The first quarter was all Hemlock, which made 9 of 14 shots from the field, held Hart to 0 of 9 shooting and forced eight turnovers.

The quarter was perfectly punctuated when Chloe Watson hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to end the first.

“Our first quarter has been our best quarter,” Neumeyer said. “We’ve jumped on several teams this year. I’m not going to say I was surprised. I know what these girls are capable of.”

Hart played Hemlock close to even in the second quarter, but the Huskies still took a 29-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The third quarter was also fairly even, with Hemlock holding a 43-19 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

Hart had a flurry to cut its deficit to 19 halfway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t put a further dent in Hemlock’s lead the rest of the way.

“What happened two years ago was obviously really devastating and sad,” Finkbeiner said. “The year after, we were like ‘We will make it to Breslin this year. This is our year.’ We lost in Districts. This year, we really focused on the next game. Not Districts, not Regionals and not the Breslin. Just one game at a time. Being here and playing here is unbelievable.”

Now, Hemlock will try and make its season more unbelievable with a win over Blissfield.

“We know we’ve got a tough opponent ahead of us in Blissfield,” Neumeyer said. “They’ve got size, they’ve got speed and they’ve got guards. But (my team) came here to play two games, not one.”