J-L Lady Cardinals Dream Season Now Available!
Recap the Lady Cards’ dream season with this special digital scrapbook featuring photos, stories, sounds and more of J-L's magical run to the Class D semifinals. DVD's are available for purchase for $20, with $5 going to Johannesburg-Lewiston Schools. They are available at both the Johannesburg and Lewiston Schools, and can also be purchased by calling the Herald Times at 732-1111. At no extra charge, the Herald Times will personalize the CD label with a picture of your favorite Cardinal player.
Thank You to all of the community members and fans
that supported the girls' basketball team this season.
It was wonderful to see all of the red and white in the stands all season long, especially during play-offs! It really meant a lot to both the players and the coaches! So~ we just want to say "thank you" and we love everyone who encouraged us along the way. We couldn't have done it without you!!
TO THE FOLLOWING FOR
DONATING FUNDS FOR THE SPECTATOR BUSES FOR THE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM’S GAMES IN TRAVERSE CITY:
J-L Little League
Brian Samkowiak & Cooper
Standard Automotive in Gaylord
An open letter to the
J-L girls basketball team
Ladies, congratulations! You all deserve kudos, oh not for just playing basketball, but by epitomizing the very meaning of teamwork, discipline, enthusiasm, and dedication, with you all rode hopes and dreams, dreams of attainment, an attainment of success. You were that success, you are not only winners, but you are our winners. You as a team, taught us the value of teamwork, the value of character and for that we, not just Johannesburg-Lewiston High School, but also our entire community, thank you!
You have been role models to young and old alike. Those that follow in your shoes, that grace the polished wooden courts will never forget the pride we had and continue to have in you. In closing, your ending to the season was the ultimate demonstration of class. To line up as one ends a wonderful performance on Broadway, and in unison bow to the officials, the spectators from other communities as well as the fans that traveled down to support your game. You did us proud, you made us realize how valuable you all are, and for that you will always be winners!
William Pylkas, "Mr. P.", Lewiston
Huff, Enders have more in common
than just hardwood success By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor ~ Gaylord Herald Times
GAYLORD — This year’s Herald Times basketball coaches of the year Pat Enders and Heather Huff have more in common than leading their respective teams to one of the best seasons in school history.
Huff, the girls coach at Johannesburg-Lewiston and Enders, the boys coach at Gaylord, are actually related as their grandmothers were sisters.
Both Huff and Enders’ grandmothers on the Pomarzynski side of the family were sisters and they were siblings with Grayling coach Kelly Sheehan’s grandfather.
Is coaching in the blood of this well-rooted Otsego County family.
“It must be,” laughed Huff. “Me, Pat and Kelly all laughed about it last year. I’m related to half of Gaylord.”
Does Enders think there’s something special about the coaching talents in his family?
“I don’t know if coaching is in the blood,” he said. “It wasn’t like they were a huge sports family, but some people in my family would like to think so.”
Although they are roughly the same age, Huff and Enders didn’t spend a ton of time together, but did hang out at the occasional family gatherings.
“Mostly at big Polish weddings,” Huff said.
Huff graduated from J-L in 1989 and Enders from St. Mary in 1991, both both found their way back to Otsego County after leaving college. And they both became darn good coaches in the process.
Huff, whose brother-in-law Daron Shimel is the softball coach at Gaylord High, has been at the helm for the continually-improving J-L girls program for the past six seasons. Last year, she led the team to its first quarterfinal appearance since her days as a player. This year, she led the Cardinals to a perfect regular season and first-ever trip to the state semifinals.
As a coach, Huff said she has grown over time by becoming more flexible.
“Sometimes you can’t press all the time and you have to back off a bit,” she said. “I used to be stubborn and think we’d just press anyway. I have adapted to different defenses and we even practiced zone.”
Enders also said he reached a greater comfort level in his second year at the GHS varsity helm, as he led the Blue Devils to an 18-4 record and first-ever Big North Conference championship.
“Things were definitely easier this year,” he said. “We did a better job of preparing and really focused on the team. I really have to give credit to assistant coach Charlie Lovelace for helping.”
Both coaches had glowing remarks for their players and the excitement they brought to their school and community.
“This whole run has inspired a lot of basketball players,” Huff said. “Even my own sons are outside every night, shooting for a couple of hours. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that our success has been a real bright spot on the community amidst some tough economic times.”
J-L girls put 4 on All-Ski Valley hoops team Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — To the victors go the spoils.
Fresh off an undefeated regular season and appearance in the Class D state semifinals, the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team placed four players on the recently-released All-Ski Valley Conference team.
Senior guard Ashlie House and junior guard Stephanie Fisher join St. Mary senior Sarah Bauer as local players on the First Team, while senior guard Nikki Ormsbee and junior forward Mary Schlicher join St. Mary junior guard Grace Westerman on the Second team.
Receiving Honorable Mention honors were St. Mary senior forwards Jessica Schmidlin and Brittany Oehlers.
The award was yet another for House, who last week was named Class D First-Team All-State by the Associated Press. She and Fisher combined to captain J-L’s intense pressure defense and both averaged more than 11 points and five steals per game.
Schlicher was the team’s most consistent player and it’s leading rebounder, averaging 13 points and nine caroms per contest. Ormsbee, an all-around talent, was another excellent defensive player and chipped in eight points per game.
Bauer returned from an eye injury as a junior to finish her career in style. She led the SVC in three-pointers and averaged 14 points on the season. Westerman started her second season as the Snowbirds’ point guard and earned her second all-conference nod, while Oehlers and Schmidlin both stepped up as seniors in the post for the Snowbirds.
Rounding out the All-SVC first team was Onaway guards Allie Nave and Hayley O’Meara and Central Lake sophomore center Jasmine Hines.
On the second team was Onaway forward Danielle Cleaver, Central Lake guard Michelle Edwards and Mancelona forward Lisa Luton.
2008-09 All-Ski Valley Conference Team
First Team: Allie Nave, Onaway; Hayley O’Meara, Onaway; Ashlie House, J-L; Stephanie Fisher, J-L; Sarah Bauer, St. Mary; Jasmine Hines, Central Lake.
Second Team: Nikki Ormsbee, J-L; Mary Schlicher, J-L; Danielle Cleaver, Onaway; Michelle Edwards, Central Lake; Grace Westerman, St. Mary; Lisa Luton, Mancelona.
Cardinal Mooney tops J-L in close semifinal By Jeremy Speer, HT Sports Editor
YPSILANTI – All good things must come to an end.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball season came to an end Thursday night with a 50-46 loss to Marine City Cardinal Mooney in the Class D state semifinals at Eastern Michigan University.
The game marked the first and only loss of the season for the Cardinals (25-1), who advanced farther than any team in school history.
Thursday’s grinder of a game was never out of reach for J-L, who was never behind by more than five points. Cardinal Mooney, however, executed down the stretch to counter any J-L basket.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “I thought we were just as good as they were. A couple things here and a couple things there and it may have been different.”
J-L was ahead 7-6 after a defensive-minded first quarter, where both teams seemed to be feeling one another out. The Cardinals may have had a chance to build their lead here, but missed shots by both teams made things close.
“The shots just didn’t fall for us,” Huff said.
J-L’s Ashlie House knocked down a pair of free throws three minutes into the second quarter to give her team a 13-10 lead. Then, the game’s unlikely hero, Cardinal Mooney freshman Rachael Torey, scored six consecutive points to give Mooney a three-point lead. A couple minutes later, Mooney had a 21-17 lead at halftime.
The teams battled back and forth in the third quarter and J-L junior Mary Schlicher’s put back bucket with 1:30 left, gave the Cardinals a brief 28-27 lead. Mooney responded, but a jumper by Stephanie Fisher tied the game at 31-31 heading into the fourth.
In the final stanza, Mooney took advantage of foul trouble to J-L’s Fisher and Nikki Ormsbee, shooting 13-of-20 from the foul line. Mooney took the lead for good 30 seconds into the fourth on a three by Allie Theut, and countered every J-L basket down the stretch. Multiple times J-L was down two with the ball, but each time Mooney came up with a big stop.
“It was tough having two of our better players out in the end of the game,” Huff said.
The game was at a different tempo than most J-L games as Mooney’s strong guards broke the Cardinals’ daunting press better than any team has all year. Limiting fast break baskets, Mooney forced a half-court tempo for most of the game.
“We didn’t want them to get up and down the floor,” said Mooney coach Susan Everhart. “Our goal was to force them in a half court game and make it one and done for them.”
Schlicher was a bright spot in the Cardinal attack. The junior forward had a game-high 15 points and 17 rebounds in the loss. Senior Jessica Sewell also provided a spark, with 10 points. Fisher added nine for J-L, while Ormsbee had six.
Torey tied for high honors for Mooney (24-2) with 14 points, along with Sammy Theut, the Class D Player of the Year. Allie Theut added 11 points and freshman Sarah Theut had eight for the Cardinals. Mooney will face defending champ New Lothrop in Saturday’s state finals in a rematch of last year’s semifinal match up.
For J-L, it was a dream season with a non-storybook finish. Still, for the Cardinals, it was one heck of a ride.
“We’re going back up with a lot of pride,” Huff said. “There are a lot of people impressed by this team. I’m so proud of them.”
J-L – 7 10 15 14 – 46
Cardinal Mooney – 6 15 11 18 – 50
J-L (46): Schlicher 15; Sewell 10; S. Fisher 9; Ormsbee 6; Head 4; House 2. Three-Pointers: (1) S. Fisher.
TO THE FOLLOWING FOR
DONATING FUNDS FOR THE SPECTATOR BUSES FOR THE GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM’S GAMES IN TRAVERSE CITY:
J-L Little League
Brian Samkowiak & Cooper
Standard Automotive in Gaylord
Thank you Lady Cards & Coach Huff
for a GREAT Season!
The Cardinal Nation!
Huff, House earn Class D all-state recognition Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball coach Heather Huff wasn’t even aware there was an award for Coach of the Year when she found out she had won it Tuesday.
But after leading the Cardinals to a perfect regular season, No. 1-ranking and first-ever appearance in the state semifinals, Huff is certainly deserving of the Honorable Mention Class D award, which is shared with Rob Briney of St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran.
Birmingham Roeper’s Ernie Righetti was named Class D coach of the year.
Huff joined her senior captain, Ashlie House, on the all-state list. After making Honorable Mention All-State as a junior, House was named First-Team this year.
The Spring Arbor signee scored her 1,000th point this season, is the Cardinals’ leading scorer at 15 points per game and is among the team leaders in rebounds, steals and assists.
It was a little bittersweet for Huff, who felt the state’s top-ranked team deserved more attention.
“It was hard watching Stephanie Fisher and Mary Schlicher out there dominating Tuesday and knowing they weren’t on the list,” Huff said. “The only reason is because their stats were down because we played in so many blowouts.”
Sammy Theut of Marine City Cardinal Mooney was named Class D Player of the Year.
Of local interest, Central Lake 6-foot-3 sophomore Jasmine Hines was named First Team-All State, while Onaway’s Allie Nave and Hayley O’Meara were Honorable Mention picks.
2009 Associated Press Class D All-State Team
Sammy Theut, Marine City Cardinal Mooney, 5-7, Sr. (Class D Player of the Year)
J-L blasts Muskegon C.C. to advance to first-ever state semifinal By Jeremy Speer ~ Sports Editor ~ Gaylord Herald Times
TRAVERSE CITY — Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball coach Heather Huff told her team they could make history Tuesday night.
And, boy, did they ever.
The Cardinals are headed to their first-ever Class D state semifinal appearance after a dominating 68-46 victory against Muskegon Catholic Central at Traverse City Central.
“After the first few minutes, I knew that we could do it,” Huff said. “We made some history today. We’re going to semifinals because we’re pretty darn good.”
That would be an understatement. No. 1-ranked J-L hasn’t lost this year and minced the Crusaders with their relentless, full-court pressure.
Defense is the best offense for this Cardinal bunch.
“We knew they didn’t like our pressure defense and that’s our game,” said J-L senior Jessica Sewell. “We figured if we could get past their height, we’d have a good chance.”
Things appeared if they could be close in the first quarter. Muskegon Catholic (20-6) jumped out to a quick 6-4 lead, before the Cardinals (25-0) flashed their brilliance with an 8-0 run, highlighted by four points from junior Mary Schlicher and a steal and layup from Fisher.
Kayleigh McCollum’s three-pointer momentarily stopped the bleeding, and J-L was up just 12-9 after one.
Then, the wolves were released. Fueled by aggressive defense that made the Crusaders strain just to get the ball past half-court, J-L went on a backbreaking 16-2 run that gave them a 17-point lead.
After a three-pointer by Olivia Allure, the Cardinals closed out the quarter on another 7-0 run and took a 35-14 lead into the locker room.
They would never fall behind by less than 20 the entire game, and pushed the lead to as much as 30 in the third quarter before emptying the bench.
“That’s what got it done for us,” said junior Stephanie Fisher, whose athletic defense spurred the Cardinals. “We went at them the whole game.”
With a crowd that took up at least half of the spacious Central High gym, the Cardinals whooped it up following the win. J-L had been to the quarterfinals before — once when Huff was a star player and also last year.
Both times, the Cardinals came up just short, including last year’s 20-point loss to eventual state runner-up Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart. It’s was impressive how far the team has come since.
“They played outstanding — every single one of them,” Huff said. “I’m so proud of the players and fans. It was amazing here.”
Fisher led the Cardinal attack with 16 points, but of more importance was her multitude of steals, many of which led to fast-break layup's. Every-steady Schlicher added 15 points for the Cardinals, while rock-solid Nikki Ormsbee added nine points. Senior Ashlie House and Sewell each added eight for J-L, who had solid contributions off the bench from Amanda Head, Ashley Sides, Christina Winkelman and Brandi Lester.
Caroline Keep paced Muskegon Catholic with 16 points, while Allure added 13 points.
Mary Schlicher scored 24 points as Johannesburg-Lewiston won the
Class D regional for the second-straight season.
The Cardinals will face Muskegon Catholic Central in the quarterfinal, which will be played Tuesday at Traverse City Central.
Against Central Lake, the No. 1-ranked Cardinals countered every Trojan run, always coming up with the clutch play or clutch shot. Nikki Ormsbee added 10 points for J-L (25-0), while Ashlie House had nine points and Jessica Sewell had seven. Jasmine Hines led Central Lake with 25 points, while Michelle Edwards added 10 points.
Speer: Cardinals at a familiar place hoping for unfamiliar result By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor - Gaylord Herald Times
TRAVERSE CITY — Following another big victory Thursday against Central Lake, the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls are headed back to familiar territory — the Class D quarterfinals.
Tuesday’s match up with Muskegon Catholic Central will be played at a familiar sight as well — Traverse City, where the Cardinals have played six tournament games over the past two seasons.
With all the similarities, the Cardinals are hoping for a major difference. This year, they’re dead-set on reaching the state semifinals, Thursday at Eastern Michigan University.
I’ve debated with some people recently if this Cardinal team is better than last year’s version, that fell 59-39 to Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the 2008 quarterfinal. My answer — a resounding yes.
Not only is J-L ranked No. 1 in the state with a 24-0 record, but the team has decimated competition throughout the tournament, winning its five games by an average of 26.2 points.
While the Cardinals certainly miss the play of Bridget Fisher, the team’s key absence from last year’s team, junior Mary Schlicher has done a tremendous job in the post, as has Jessica Sewell, Amanda Head and Ashley Sides. The guards are just as athletic, a year older and a year stronger.
The team seems to have evolved as a unit. Now, they’re not just a full-court pressure, run and gun team. There have been times when coach Heather Huff has pulled the team into a half-court game, and the Cardinals have been successful with that. Not just a bunch of good athletes, this is a true basketball team.
I said a couple of weeks ago that the only thing that could stop the Cardinals through the regionals is them beating themselves. That didn’t happen and I don’t anticipate it to now, either.
But the competition likely could match J-L’s talent from here on out, starting with Muskegon C.C.. The Crusaders have played a tough schedule and are built for tournament success.
Last year the Cardinals went into the quarterfinal as rousing underdogs. That won’t be the case this year — given the team’s number one ranking. What’s most important is that the Cardinals believe they can win. Last year gave the team a barometer of what level they needed to be at, and they’ve worked toward getting there all this year.
Behind it’s faithful legion of fans, the J-L girls will take the court Tuesday in the biggest game of the season. The Cardinals have owned Northern Michigan, winning all 24 games against its foes. Now, it’s onto the downstate teams, long said to have a talent advantage on they’re Northern counterparts.
The Cardinals can take the first step toward proving them wrong Tuesday.
Onward & Upward: Cardinals win second-straight regional championship By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor - Gaylord Herald Times
TRAVERSE CITY -- Onward and upward.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team defeated Central Lake 56-47 Thursday, winning its second-consecutive regional title and setting up a Tuesday quarterfinal battle with Muskegon Catholic Central at Traverse City Central.
In getting there, the No. 1-ranked Cardinals defeated Central Lake for the third time this season, using timely play to quell any potential Trojan rally.
“Both teams played really well,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “It was a battle the entire way and when things got tight, we did a really good job. I’m just so proud of these girls. They’ve worked so hard for this.”
The Cardinals (25-0) knew they’d have a tall task in dealing with dominant Central Lake sophomore Jasmine Hines. Double-teaming her at any opportunity, J-L at least slowed her to 25 points, which is below her average.
J-L countered with a low-post presence of its own, as junior Mary Schlicher played one of her best career games and finished with 24 points. She consistently knocked down the short jumper, while cleaning up on the offensive glass.
“She was the only one who was hitting in the first half,” Huff said. “It’s a good thing she did.”
Scoring eight points in the first quarter, Schlicher was the main reason behind J-L’s 13-8 first quarter lead. The other was the Cardinals’ aggressive defense, which forced Central Lake’s ball handlers into a number of turnovers. Behind solid defensive play, J-L took a 24-16 lead into the locker room.
It looked as if the Cardinals would start to run away with the game early in the third quarter on back-to-back buckets by Schlicher and senior Ashlie House, but the Trojans responded nicely, scoring eight in a row. Central Lake’s secondary players, like seniors Michelle Edwards and Kayla McPherson stepped up during that stretch. All the sudden, the Cardinals were ahead by just one, 30-29.
Always resilient, J-L showed no fear as junior Stephanie Fisher went down the court and buried a high-arcing three-pointer. Then, the Cardinals forced a five-second call and House closed out the quarter with a runner in the lane. J-L took a 35-31 lead into the fourth.
A three-point play by senior Nikki Ormsbee put the Cardinals back up nine at the 6:35 mark, but Central Lake continued to battle back, cutting the lead to five points with 1:56 left.
But in the game’s final moments, the Cardinals executed perfectly, setting up baskets by Ormsbee and Fisher and allowing the Trojans no room on the offensive end.
Ormsbee added 10 points for J-L, while House had nine points, senior Jessica Sewell had seven points and Fisher had six. Because of a lack of foul trouble, Huff used a short bench in the game, with only junior sixth-man Amanda Head seeing extensive action.
Edwards chipped in 10 points for the Trojans, while Heidi Hicks and McPherson each had six.
J-L and its faithful legion of fans will now return to Tuesday’s quarterfinal, where it will face a Muskegon Catholic Central team that is 20-5 on the season. A win there would mark J-L’s first-ever trip to the state semifinals, held next Thursday at Eastern Michigan University.
J-L 13 11 11 21 -- 56
Cent. Lake 8 8 15 16 -- 47
J-L (56): Schlicher 24; Ormsbee 10; House 9; Sewell 7; S. Fisher 6. Three-Pointers: (2): House, Fisher.
CENTRAL LAKE (47): Hines 25; Edwards 10; Hicks 6; McPherson 6. Three-Pointers: (None).
Girls Basketball Game Johannesburg-Lewiston vs. Central Lake Thursday, March 10th
at Traverse City West
Cardinals roll in regionals, face Central Lake next Gaylord Herald Times
TRAVERSE CITY — The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team rolled into its second-straight regional final Tuesday with a convincing 63-34 victory against Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s.
The No. 1-ranked Cardinals, now at 23-0 on the season, will battle familiar rival Central Lake in Thursday’s regional final at Traverse City West.
Against Lake Leelanau, J-L overcame a slow first-half shooting night to put the game away with a 21-6 fourth quarter.
“They were a fast and athletic team that ran the floor well,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “We actually went into a half-court defense because we were missing our shots and they were beating us up the floor. But we starting making out shots in the second half and everybody contributed.”
J-L led just 29-22 at halftime, before bumping the advantage to 42-28 heading into the fourth.
Junior Mary Schlicher led a very balanced attack with 13 points and nine rebounds. Ashlie House, battling the flu, had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Stephanie Fisher added 11 points. Senior Jessica Sewell played what Huff called “one of her best games ever” and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Huff also praised the contributions of Amanda Head, Christina Winkelman and Ashley Sides off the bench.
“We had an excellent crowd and we’re expecting another one on Thursday,” Huff said. “We know that Central Lake is beatable, but they also think they can beat us. We just have to come to play.”
Brandi Pasch and Christy Miller each had 13 points to lead the Eagles.
If the Cardinals can beat Central Lake (19-4) for the third time this season, they will advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal, where they will face the winner of Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (21-3) and Muskegon Catholic Central (19-5).
The Cardinals broke open a relatively close game by finishing out with a 21-6 fourth quarter. J-L, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class D,
improved to 23-0 on the season and set up another battle
with Central Lake in Thursday's regional final at Traverse City West.
The teams played a pair of hard-fought games in the regular season.
Against Lake Leelanau, Mary Schlicher led the way with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Stephanie Fisher and Ashlie House had 11 points apiece. Jessica Sewell had a great game with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
J-L led 13-8 after the first quarter, 29-22 at halftime and 42-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
J-L's Power 'House' signs to play at Spring Arbor
Gaylord By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor
JOHANNESBURG -- As far as Fridays go, they don’t get much better.
On Friday afternoon, Johannesburg-Lewiston senior Ashlie House fulfilled a lifelong dream, signing a letter of intent to play college basketball at Spring Arbor University.
Then, just a couple of hours later, House scored a game-high 20 points as she led the Cardinals to their second-straight district championship.
Spring Arbor coach Tara Kreklau was there for House’s signing and stayed to watch the game. She is excited about House coming to play for her program.
“She’s a high-quality individual and as a player, she is the complete package,” Kreklau said. “She’s very athletic and can shoot and penetrate. She’s a good passer and a good rebounder. She is not one-dimensional.”
House, the 2008 Herald Times Area Player of the Year, initiated the recruiting process by filling out a prospective student-athlete form on Spring Arbor’s Web site. Kreklau then called her and had her come to to the campus for a workout. After that short time, she was immediately impressed.
“She watched me take a couple of shots and said that she wanted me,” House said. “I really like the small-town feeling, kind of like in Johannesburg. It’s a Christian college, which will be great for me.”
In her second season as Spring Arbor coach, Kreklau made tremendous strides with the program. They increased their wins from the previous year and were very competitive in the tough Mid-Central College Conference, which featured four NAIA playoff teams.
House is part of a strong six or seven-person recruiting class, Kreklau said. The North Dakota native also said she has enjoyed getting accustomed with Northern Michigan basketball.
“We’d like to be more of an up tempo team and with the athleticism of the players we’ve brought in, I think we can. I’ve been very impressed with Northern Michigan. It seems like sometimes these players get overlooked, but you’re going to see me back in this area.”
House, an 1,000-point scorer who averages 15 points, 4.5 steals, four assists and 3.5 rebounds for the undefeated and No. 1-ranked Cardinals, hopes to gain playing time in her first year.
“I know I’ll have to work even harder than I have, but I will,” she said. “I would love to see time at point guard. This is an exciting opportunity. It’s a little sad, because I’ll miss playing ball with great girls, but I’m looking forward to taking my game to the next level.”
House, the daughter of Gary and Kellie House, plans on studying secondary physical education in college and would eventually like to coach.
22-0 and rolling: J-L wins second-straight district,
headed to T.C. for regional By Jeremy Speer ~ Sports Editor ~ Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston took a big step forward with its girls basketball program Friday night.
Last season, when the Cardinals won the district title, there was a sense of unbridled enthusiasm. It was a first — and J-L fans and players celebrated as such.
But following Friday’s 66-43 victory against Onaway that made it two district titles in a row for the Cardinals — there was still a big celebration, but rather one tempered with the notion that bigger things are to come.
No. 1-ranked J-L has become a program that confidently expects to win every game.
“The first one always is the best,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “But this is still awesome. We’re now looking to take care of business and get back to the quarterfinals.”
For senior Nikki Ormsbee, who had a solid 16 points in the victory, the players are on the ride of their lives.
“I can’t even describe how much fun I’m having,” Ormsbee said. “Winning two is one accomplishment on top of another. We’re really playing well as a team.”
Any skeptics of J-L’s ability should look no further than the Cardinals’ exploits of Onaway this season. Onaway finished the season with a very good 17-5 record, but three of those losses were to J-L, with the average margin of defeat being 25 points.
Onaway again fought hard Friday night, but could not temper J-L’s sweltering defense, which, per usual, led to plenty of fast-break points.
“We got some steals that were key,” Huff said. “We made our shots and played tough defense. The girls deserve it, they’ve been working hard.”
Ormsbee and senior Ashlie House got off to quick starts in the first quarter, scoring six apiece as J-L built a 14-6 lead. Behind the strong play of seniors Hayley O’Meara and Danielle Cleaver, Onaway held its own in the second quarter, not allowing the Cardinals to blow the game away. Ormsbee hit two big free throws with seven seconds left, however, to give the Cardinals a 32-20 halftime advantage.
The aggressive Cardinals found themselves in foul trouble in the second half, but it did not matter. A number of players stepped up off the bench, including guard Megan Kennedy and post players Amanda Head and Ashley Sides. Their play, and the continued commitment to defense without worry of a whistle allowed the Cardinals to take a 49-26 lead into the fourth quarter, and build the advantage to as many as 26 points in the fourth.
House, who just hours earlier signed a letter-of-intent to play college basketball at Spring Arbor University, led J-L (22-0) with 20 points, while Ormsbee had 16 points and junior Mary Schlicher added 12 points. Junior Stephanie Fisher contributed nine points in the victory.
O’Meara paced Onaway with 19 points, while Cleaver had 11 points and junior Allie Nave had eight.
J-L advanced to Tuesday’s regional semifinal at Traverse City West against Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s. Central Lake, 18-4, faces Arenac Eastern, 19-3, in the other semifinal with the winners playing Friday at 7 p.m. STATS J-L vs. Onaway
Onaway — 6 14 6 17 — 43
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team won its second straight district final game over Onaway in front of a packed house at the JLHS gym.
The Cardinals advance to Tuesday's regional at Traverse City, where they will face either Lake Leelanau St. Mary's or Leland.
Ashlie House had 20 points for the No. 1-ranked Cardinals (22-0), while Nikki Ormsbee had 16 points and Mary Schlicher added 12 points.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 54, Posen 26
(Girls Districts) Gaylord Herald Times
The No. 1-ranked Cardinals made short work of the visiting Vikings, who came into the game with a 17-2 record on the season.
Mary Schlicher led J-L (21-0) with 14 points, while Stephanie Fisher added 12 points and Ashlie House had eight points.
The Cardinals advance to host Friday's district final against Onaway, who was a big winner over Atlanta in the other semifinal.
J-L has defeated Onaway handily twice this season.
J-L girls swarm Posen to advance to district final J-L vs. Posen STATS Gaylord Herald Times - By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor
JOHANNESBURG — On a day when its shots weren’t falling from the outside, the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team stuck to its bread and butter.
Defensive pressure, and a lot of it, flustered Posen in Wednesday’s district semifinal, giving the No. 1-ranked Cardinals another breezy victory, 54-26.
The Vikings came into the game with a 17-2 record but simply struggled to get into their offensive sets because of frenetic Cardinal pressure.
“It was very nice, especially considering we couldn’t hit an outside shot to save our lives,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “I talked to the team about crashing the boards harder and we started getting a lot of second shots in the second half.”
Normally, three-pointers are a big part of the Cardinals (21-0) arsenal, but they did not hit any Wednesday. That, in part, allowed the Vikings to hang around in the first half.
In fact, Posen’s Janice Ciarkowski and Lindsay Ponik scored the game’s first two buckets, before the Cardinals began to turn up the heat.
Junior Stephanie Fisher took over in the first quarter, using her superior athleticism to swipe a number of steals. She had eight points in the quarter
as J-L built a 12-6 lead.
While shutting down Posen defensively in the second quarter, the shots weren’t falling for J-L until late, when sophomore Ashley Sides scored on a follow, before senior Nikki Ormsbee was fouled with four seconds left. Ormsbee hit one of the two foul shots, but after Posen secured the rebound, she stole the ball and completed a layup at the buzzer. The Cardinals pressed ahead to a 22-9 lead at the half.
J-L really put the game out of reach in the third, opening with a 10-4 run that was spurred by the solid inside play of Mary Schlicher, who led the team with a game-high 14 points. Schlicher’s second-chance rebounding was indicative of the entire team’s effort in the second half.
“I think we started to wear them down,” Huff said. “Mary did a great job inside and so did Amanda Head and Ashley Sides.”
In the end, Posen tried to stay close with execution and hustle, but J-L was overwhelming with its athleticism and relentlessness.
The Cardinals certainly fed off their legion of supportive fans, a group that will surely continue to follow the team as they move through the tournament.
“That was awesome,” Huff said. “It was an outstanding atmosphere here.”
Fisher added 12 points for the Cardinals in the win, while senior Ashlie House had eight points. Sides and Head each contributed six points in the victory.
Ciarkowski led the Vikings (17-3) with seven points, while Victoria Wozniak added six points.
The Cardinals battled familiar rival Onaway in Friday’s district championship, a rematch of last season’s game. Check online at www.gaylordheraldtimes.com for details.
The Cardinals, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class D, rolled to the district-opening victory Monday night at home.
J-L advances to Wednesday's semifinal, where it will play Posen, undefeated champions of the North Star League, at 7:30 p.m.
Ashlie House led the way with 18 points for the Cardinals, who improved
to 20-0 on the season.
JOHANNESBURG — The perfect regular season is now complete.
The No. 1-ranked Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team capped off a 19-0 record with a 58-10 victory against Boyne Falls, despite the fact they were missing injured leading scorer Ashlie House.
Mary Schlicher led the Cardinals with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Stephanie Fisher added 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Nikki Ormsbee had eight points and seven steals in the victory, while Brandi Lester had nine points.
Jessica Sewell added seven rebounds in the victory.
J-L jumped out to a 17-6 lead after the first quarter, before opening it up to 39-9 at halftime. They led 53-10 heading into the fourth quarter, where a running clock was instituted.
The Cardinals open district play at home Monday, when they face Hillman. A win there would set up a match up with North Star League champion Posen in Wednesday’s semifinal.
J-L girls ranked No. 1 in the state Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — Now, officially, they’re the team to beat.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team has ascended through the Class D rankings all season long and now they’re reached the pinnacle, securing the No. 1 ranking in the most recent Class D poll.
The Cardinals were ranked No. 2 in last week’s poll, behind Birmingham Roeper, who fell 45-41 to Auburn Hills Oakland Christian this past week.
J-L, at 18-0, is one of three unbeaten teams in the poll — joining No. 8 St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (19-0) and No. 4 Athens (19-0).
The Cardinals advanced to the Class D quarterfinals a year ago, where they lost to Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, who is currently No. 7. The Cardinals close out the regular season Thursday at home against Boyne Falls.
There, a pair of solid teams — Posen and Onaway — await.
AP Class D Poll
1. Johannesburg-Lewiston (17-0)
2. New Lothrop (15-4)
3. Birmingham Roeper (18-1)
4. Athens (17-0)
4. Cedarville (16-2)
6. Brimley (16-2)
7. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (15-3)
8. St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (17-0)
9. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (17-2)
10. Climax-Scotts (16-2)
Others Receiving Votes: Bark River-Harris (15-2); Manistee Catholic Central (17-1); Muskegon Catholic Central (14-5); Ontonagon (15-3); Auburn Hills Oakland Christian (14-4); Central Lake (15-4); Onaway (16-4); Watersmeet (15-3); Ellsworth (15-3).
J-L girls No. 2 in Class D Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — Moving on up.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team continues to climb up the Class D rankings and now occupy the No. 2 spot in the state, according to Tuesday’s Associated Press Michigan Prep Girls Basketball poll.
At 17-0, the Cardinals are behind just one team — also unbeaten Birmingham Roeper. Roeper received 75 votes in the poll, while J-L took 67.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, whom J-L lost to in the last year’s quarterfinals and who they could see there again, is ranked No. 5.
Class D Poll:
1. Birmingham Roeper (17-0)
2. Johannesburg-Lewiston (17-0)
3. Brimley (15-1)
4. New Lothrop (13-4)
5. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (13-2)
6. Cedarville (14-2)
7. Marine City Card. Mooney (16-1)
8. St. Joseph Mich. Lutheran (15-0)
9. Athens (15-0)
10. Bark River-Harris (14-2)
10. Manistee Cath. Central (16-1)
Others Receiving Votes: Ontonagon (14-2); Climax-Scotts (14-2); Muskegon Catholic Central (14-2); Arenac Eastern (13-3); Onaway (14-4); Central Lake (13-3); Posen (15-1); Watersmeet (13-3); Eben Superior Central (12-6); Ellsworth (15-3).
J-L clinches share of Ski Valley title, despite missing House Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — It’s now official.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team clinched at least a share of the Ski Valley Conference championship with a 55-13 home victory against Inland Lakes Tuesday.
At 15-0 overall and 13-0 in the SVC, the No. 4-ranked Cardinals need just a win in their next three games or a Central Lake loss to clinch the title outright.
“The conference was one of the goals we set at the beginning of the season,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “I think in our minds, we’re already focused on the next, which is winning districts.”
This week did not come without stressful news, however, as senior guard Ashlie House rolled her ankle in practice Monday and did not play against the Bulldogs.
Huff said the injury is somewhat severe, and could keep her out of a big game Thursday at Central Lake.
In her stead, Christina Winkelman stepped into a starting role and did a strong job. The same could be said for Stephanie Fisher, who assumed House’s point guard role and did a good job, while also posting 14 points.
Amanda Head also had her best game of the season, and finished with 14 points. Mary Schlicher added 12 points in the victory.
Inland Lakes fell to 3-11 overall and 2-11 in the league with the defeat.
JOHANNESBURG — Another one down — one more to go. Gaylord Herald Times
The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team pulled another game closer to clinching at least a share of the Ski Valley Conference championship with a 66-22 home victory against Bellaire Tuesday.
The No. 4-ranked Cardinals (14-0 overall, 12-0 SVC) could clinch a tie of the title at home Tuesday against Inland Lakes and the outright title Thursday at Central Lake.
In the Bellaire victory, Ashlie House led J-L with 20 points, while Mary Schlicher added 10 points and nine rebounds. Stephanie Fisher contributed eight points and five steals, while Nikki Ormsbee had six points, six assists and four steals.
Ashley Sides, called up from the junior varsity, had five points, while Amanda Head, Jessica Sewell and Christina Winkelman each had four points.
With 28 points in the second quarter, the Cardinals built a 38-11 halftime advantage and never looked back.
Sherri Smith and Mary Walsh each had five points to pace Bellaire (3-10, 2-8 SVC).
JOHANNESBURG — The J-L junior varsity earned a 52-40 win against Bellaire.
Danielle Hardy led the Cardinals with 19 points and six rebounds, while Miranda House had 14 points and five assists.
Jamie Milbocker added six points and eight rebounds in the victory, while Allison Burley had seven points.
Girls Class D AP Poll
(Records as of Tuesday)
1. Cedarville (12-0)
2. Birmingham Roeper (12-0)
3. New Lothrop (10-2)
4. J-L (13-0)
5. M.P. Sacred Heart (10-2)
6. Marine City Cardinal Mooney (12-0)
7. Ontonagon (11-1)
8. Bark River-Harris (11-1)
9. Portland St. Patrick (8-3)
10. Muskegon C.C. (10-3)
Others Receiving Votes: Brimley (13-1); Central Lake (9-3); St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (12-0); Manistee Catholic Central (10-1); Posen (11-1); Eben Superior Central (11-3); Athens (12-0); Onaway (10-4); Climax-Scotts (10-2); Ellsworth (12-2); Kinde-North Huron (11-2).
J-L nears league title, is 20-0 season ahead? By Jeremy Speer - Sports Editor - Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG - It's sometimes dangerous to assume, but Johannesburg-Lewiston High School may want to start clearing space for another trophy.
The Lady Cardinals are on the verge of winning the 2008-09 Ski Valley Conference - perhaps a harbinger of even bigger things to come.
J-L's grinding 48-38 win against St. Mary Tuesday, coupled with Central Lake's one-point setback to Onaway has given the Cardinals a three-game cushion on the SVC standings, with just five league games remaining.
And with just one of those five games coming against one of the SVC's top four teams, a celebration is nearing in Johannesburg. The all-but finalized conference title now has the Cardinals and coach Heather Huff thinking about the big picture - such as a perfect 20-0 season. "It's something that was a goal at the beginning of the season, but now that it's getting closer, it has us really excited," Huff said.
In all reality, there is one potential stumbling block in J-L's final seven games a February 12th battle at Central Lake. the other six opponents have a combined record of 19-44. Huff knows that the Central Lake game, however, will not be easy. St. Mary gave the Cardinals all they could handle Tuesday, and she thinks it served a message to her team. "It was a wake-up call not only to the team but to me as well," Huff said. "I think it was good for us to have to battle all the way back. We should be able to do well against Central Lake, but Tuesday proves that anything can happen."
Looking big picture, games like Tuesday could prove invaluable. The competition will be ratcheted up once the state tournament starts, including a district that includes quality teams Posen and Onaway. And if the Cardinals, who lost to Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in last year's quarterfinals, are to get over that hump this year, they'll have to be tested in high-pressure situations.
But for now, the Cardinals will look to put the cherry on top of an impressive regular season in Central Lake. There should be lots to celebrate then, but J-L is hoping that even bigger celebrations follow in March.
St. Mary pushes J-L, but Cards prevail By Jim Ryan • Sports Assistant - Gaylord Herald Times
GAYLORD — The second of two annual Ski-Valley Conference showdowns between the St. Mary and Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball teams proved to be worth the price of admission and more Tuesday night. Fans of both schools packed the St. Mary gymnasium to witness the Cardinals down the Snowbirds by a score of 48-38.
The 10-point margin of victory was not indicative of how close the game really was, however. At one point during the second quarter the Cardinals went through a shooting drought and trailed St. Mary's by as many as ten points.
“I was impressed with our comeback,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “The girls knew what they had to do to come back at halftime. They worked hard and they did it.”
Both the Snowbirds and Cardinals played stellar defense that kept the game close, but in the end J-L got hot and was too much to handle for the St. Mary's defense.
“We made some better baskets and some better passes,” pronounced Huff.
Junior Mary Schlicher was an absolute beast in the paint for the Cards. She nearly obtained a triple double with 15 points, 19 rebounds, and eight steals on the night. “She did a heck of a job on the rebounds tonight and enabled us to get our fast break going,” Huff said.
Schlicher's double-double was complimented by Ashlie House and Stephanie Fisher’s 14 and 13 points, respectively.
St. Mary's coach Dale Jacob was very pleased with his team’s effort.
“They're ranked third in the state, we knew that going in,” Jacob said. “We played them tough at their place and I really felt that if we stayed within our game plan we could make it a good game.”
The Snowbirds showed that they were capable of taking it to the rival Cardinals during the second quarter. St. Mary's went on a 12-point rampage in the second quarter, taking full advantage of a lapse of J-L offense
Although the Cardinals cut their deficit to a mere point going into the break, the 20-19 score was a reason to sweat for the Cardinal faithful in the bleachers.
“It was the first time that they had been down at half all year, so we take a small consolation in that,” Jacob said.
One of the main contributors to the second quarter scare was senior Sarah Bauer. Bauer had 14 points on the night. Junior Lauren Reppuhn also contributed eight points for St. Mary.
The Cardinals currently hold a three game lead in the Ski-Valley Conference with only six games to go and are one of the state's elite, but St. Mary showed it isn’t that far behind their rivals.
“I’m proud of our girls," Jacob proclaimed. “I don't think we have played our best game yet. Hopefully we’ll see that in Districts and go from there.”
House nets 1,000th point, stealing the show at home
By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor
Gaylord Herald Times ~ 1/23/09
JOHANNESBURG -- When she was a child, Ashlie House told her aunt Debbie House that she would someday join her in an elite club.
That day was Wednesday, when House became the newest J-L girls basketball to score 1,000 career points in a stirring performance against Onaway.
“I’ve been telling her forever that I would join her,” House said. “It’s an overwhelming feeling — very exciting.”
House really doesn’t fit the prototype of the typical 1,000 point scorer. She has battled asthma her entire life and at 5-foot-4, is almost always the smallest player on the floor. But with a natural basketball ability and dogged determination, she has made herself into the heart and soul of J-L’s undefeated team.
All of House’s hours of shooting before and after practice all were rewarded in the fourth quarter, when a sunk free throw put House at 1K.
“I’ve had to overcome a lot and I’ve put in a lot of extra time before and after practice and in the off season,” House said. “But this proves that with determination and heart, you can accomplish anything.”
It doesn’t hurt to have confidence, either. Needing 25 points to reach the mark on a home game, House was faced with the tough task of doing it against a good Onaway club. Proving she performs her best in the big games, the point guard netted 27 points, the same figure she posted in the Cardinals’ huge win earlier this year against ranked Central Lake. House said she never doubted her ability to do it in front of the home fans.
It did, however, require her to do something she rarely does — be a little selfish. With the Cardinals comfortably up in the fourth, J-L’s game plan was simple — get the ball to House.
“It was really uncomfortable for me,” House said. “A couple of times I wanted to dish it, but I didn’t because they all wanted me to do it. I wouldn’t have done any of this without my teammates.”
First, she canned a pair of consecutive three-pointers to bring her within five. Then was one of her patented fast-break layup's. Then came a pair of free throws and, then, with 2:03 remaining on the clock she was fouled underneath the basket.
Cal my, she stepped to the line and sunk a free throw, igniting a burst of excitement and pride among a J-L crowd that knew exactly how many points she needed.
To coach, Heather Huff, a former J-L 1,000 point scorer, it was an emotional experience.
“I felt the tears swelling up,” Huff said. “She’s like a daughter to me. I couldn’t be happier for someone.”
The game was stopped for a rousing standing ovation and an announcement was made with everyone in the gym applauding, even the Onaway team. House was quickly substituted for and received a certificate and a commemorative basketball signed by the team.
On Wednesday, J-L’s captain experienced something rarely felt by basketball players. In a sport dominated by team play, the night completely belonged to her.
Cardinals keep rolling, now 9-0 Gaylord Herald Times ~ January 20th, 2009
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball is starting to act like it wants to run away with the Ski Valley Conference title.
If the No. 5-ranked Cardinals can top Onaway Wednesday night at home, they’d take another step toward that goal.
J-L (9-0, 7-0 SVC) has been taking care of business recently, including a ho-hum 73-35 home victory against Mancelona Friday.
“Our offense and defense were definitely clicking,” Huff said. “We ran the floor really well and we put pressure on them the whole game. We’re getting better each time we play.”
Junior Stephanie Fisher had her best game of the season, hitting for 18 points, seven steals and five rebounds. It was a big boost for Fisher, a key player who has been bothered with injuries the entire season.
Senior Ashlie House continued to close in on 1,000 career points with a 13-point, six-steal performance.
She is now just 25 points shy of 1,000, with games against Onaway and at Pellston ahead this week.
Junior Mary Schlicher added 13 points for the Cardinals, while senior Nikki Ormsbee had 10 points and five steals. Junior Amanda Head had nine points and eight rebounds in the victory.
J-L led 21-8 after the first quarter and 43-18 at halftime.
Lisa Luton led Mancelona (3-5, 2-4 SVC) with 24 points.
Huff said she’s looking forward to playing Onaway (8-2, 6-2 SVC), whom the Cardinals defeated by 26 points on the road earlier this season.
J-L has a two-game lead over Onaway, Central Lake and St. Mary in the conference race.
“Any time you play Onaway it’s going to be a tough game and if we don’t play well, they could beat us,” she said.
Mancelona 8 10 7 10 — 35
J-L 21 22 14 16 — 73
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior varsity improved to 7-2 on the season with a breezy 51-17 victory against Mancelona.
Ashley Sides led the Cardinals with 16 points and 13 rebound, while Danielle Hardy had 10 points and nine rebounds. Miranda House had nine points, Allison Burley had six points and Jamie Milbocker had nine rebounds for J-L.
No. 5 Cardinals keep cruising in Ski Valley Gaylord Herald Times 1/16/09
INDIAN RIVER — The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team is rolling through the Ski Valley Conference.
The No. 5-ranked Cardinals improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the SVC with a 69-37 romp at Inland Lakes Wednesday.
“It’s a challenge sometimes to make sure that everybody is pumped up,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “I just tell them that we want to take our game to another level each time we play, no matter the opponent.”
J-L cruised out to a 27-8 first quarter lead, one which it sustained the entire evening.
Senior Ashlie House had another strong game with 23 points, five assists and five steals while junior Amanda Head had her best performance of the season with 11 points.
Senior Jessica Sewell added 10 points and six rebounds, while senior Nikki Ormsbee contributed nine points and seven steals.
Becky Rotter had eight points to pace the Bulldogs (2-5, 1-5 SVC).
J-L will have a big game ahead Wednesday when it hosts Onaway (7-2), who is drawing votes in the Class D poll. J-L dominated Onaway on the road, 75-49, in the teams’ first match up.
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior varsity girls team improved to 6-2 on the season with a 48-18 win at Inland Lakes.
Ashley Sides led the Cardinals with 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven steals, while Miranda House added eight points and seven steals.
Chelsea Lemcool chipped in four points, four steals and four rebounds for J-L.
Davids beat Goliath: No. 5 J-L topples No. 10 Central Lake
Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — Call it Goliath against a whole bunch of David's.
The No. 5-ranked Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team faced the tough task of dealing with Central Lake phenom Jasmine Hines, who at over six feet tall, is Northern Michigan’s most physically-imposing player.
But the Cardinals, featuring a deep cache of ultra-athletic players, buzzed around Hines and the No. 10- Trojans in a 65-57 home victory Friday.
“It’s unbelievable — we did a great job against her,” said a jubilant J-L coach Heather Huff. “We focused all week on stopping Jasmine. We’re one step closer to reaching our goals — an outright Ski Valley Conference championship and return to the quarterfinals.”
Hines, of course, inflicted her damage with a game-high 28 points, but the Cardinals (7-0, 5-0 SVC) controlled the tempo of the game, tiring the Trojans with a frenetic style that may feature a fair deal of turnovers and missed shots, but almost always comes through when the need be.
“When we play that fast, we’re going to make mistakes and turn it over, but we also know we’re going to create steals and score points,” Huff said.
While Central Lake (5-2, 3-2 SVC) had Hines, J-L also had its star in returning all-stater Ashlie House, who played like a senior in the fourth quarter.
After the Trojans began to cut into a 13-point Cardinal lead, trimming it to as few as four points with under a minute left, House stepped up in a big way. In the final 27 seconds of the game, she was awarded eight foul shots and drilled all eight of them, helping her to finish with a team-high 27 points.
“It’s what I work on all the time,” House said. “I’m in the gym before practice — on snow days shooting. I’m a senior, and it’s about time that I stepped up and had a great game.”
J-L seemed to have control from the game’s outset, taking a four-point first quarter lead before Central Lake’s Michelle Edwards drilled a buzzer-beating three-pointer to trim the Cardinals’ lead to 14-13 after the first quarter.
The Trojans briefly seized the lead in the second quarter, when two free-throws and an inside bucket by Hines gave them a 19-15 lead.
Then, came the play of the day from J-L, as after a cross-court outlet pass appeared to be headed for the sideline, junior Stephanie Fisher swooped in and jumped for it, punching the ball ahead with the only part of her body she could touch it with — her right hand. The ball landed right into the waiting arms of senior Nikki Ormsbee, who converted it for a layup.
Starting with that play, the Cardinals closed the half on a 12-3 run and took a 27-22 lead into the locker room.
Despite the size of Hines, J-L owned the boards in third quarter, scoring on put back after put back. Juniors Mary Schlicher and Amanda Head were the key glass clearer's, while House and Fisher continually set up teammates with excellent passing and penetration. The Cardinals carried a 47-37 lead into the final stanza, before Central Lake began to make its mini-run.
Schlicher added 14 points and nine rebounds in the win, while Ormsbee contributed 10 points.
Edwards chipped in 12 points for Central Lake, while Heidi Hicks had eight.
J-L is back in action tonight, when it plays at Inland Lakes.
Cent. Lk. 13 9 15 20 — 57
J-L 14 13 20 18 — 65
CENTRAL LAKE (57): Hines 10 8-17 28; Edwards 4 3-4 12; Hicks 4 0-0 8. Three Pointers: Edwards.
J-L (65): House 7 12-15 27; Schlicher 6 2-2 14; Ormsbee 5 0-0 10; Head 1 1-2 3; Winkelman 1 0-0 2; S. Fisher 3 0-2 6; Sewell 1 1-2 3. Three Pointers: House.
JOHANNESBURG — The J-L junior varsity team improved to 5-2 on the season with a 58-20 victory against Central Lake.
Miranda House led the Cardinals with 17 points, while Ashley Sides was the leading rebounder with 13. Danielle Hardy added 10 rebounds in the victory.
Hall of Fame Series: Townsend (Huff)
a link to great J-L teams of then and now By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor ~ Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — As a player and as a coach, Heather (Townsend) Huff has been a part of some of the best times in the history of the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball program.
The link between the great Cardinal teams of the 1980s and the dominant teams of current, Huff has played and coached a team that advanced to the state quarterfinals.
It seems as if Huff is most comfortable on a basketball court. She scored 1,216 career high school points and played at Alma College. She started coaching at J-L in 1995, and now is a member of the Greater Otsego Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009.
“It has totally come full circle,” Huff said. “I didn’t think I’d be in Johannesburg after college. I love to play and I have really enjoyed coaching. We played an up tempo style of basketball and that’s the way I like to coach. I think it’s more fun.”
Huff grew up in the shadows of the school and in high school, became part of some highly-successful J-L teams, forming a formidable 1-2 combo with previous Greater Otsego Hall inductee Vickie Ellison. She played for the one of the winningest coaches in state history, Rick Guild, who is a member of the Michigan High School and Greater Otsego Hall of Fame's.
As a junior, Huff was part of the most memorable moment of her basketball career. She helped the Cardinals on a magical tournament run that ended with a battle with Walkerville in the Class D quarterfinals. Down 20 points in that game, J-L came back to take a one-point lead with 15 seconds left. A inbounds steal allowed Walkerville an easy lay-up that stunned the Cardinals.
“There are a lot of what ifs with that game,” Huff said.
Huff was all-state, district and conference during her final two years, and spent two seasons playing at Alma, one on the junior varsity and one of the varsity. There, she decided coaching was her future and began helping at Alma High School as a college upperclassmen. After graduating, she coached at Breckenridge and at Gaylord Middle School, before ending right back in her home town.
Her mentor when she returned back to J-L — Guild.
“What he taught me is that if you play from the heart and give 100 percent, an average athlete can be a good player,” Huff said. “That’s hard to teach. It’s really special when you find players that have heart and are great athletes.”
That’s exactly what she has now with the Cardinals, whom she shepherded to the Class D quarterfinals last season. With a perfect 5-0 record, J-L is again ranked and poised to make another run.
Huff said coaching has brought her family, which includes husband Troy and children Coalton, 12, Logan, 10 and Sheldon, 5, closer together. Her husband and boys are visible at every J-L game or practice.
“It’s a blessing that no matter what I do, my family is around,” Huff said. “There’s no way I’d be able to coach without that.”
A glimpse of greatness: 22-0 run fuels J-L vs. Vanderbilt
By Jeremy Speer • Sports Editor
VANDERBILT -- For five minutes Thursday night, the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team provided a glimpse of why they are a Class D contender.
After a sloppy first half, the Cardinals kicked it into gear in the first five minutes of the third quarter, erupting on a 22-0 burst that allowed them to cruise in a 58-25 victory against Vanderbilt.
“We were really spinning our wheels, but we came back with full court man-to-man pressure and it was the kick we needed,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “We changed up the defense we were doing and it really helped us.”
During that run, the Cardinals were sparked by a number of sources, including senior Ashlie House, who had seven points, and junior Mary Schlicher, who had six. In addition, Nikki Ormsbee provided stifling defense, while Amanda Head cleared space in the post.
For Vanderbilt coach Chris Rupe, it was a backbreaking run. Still, he said there were some positives from his team’s performance.
“We should be able to build upon what we’ve done,” he said. “If we played four quarters the way we played three, it would have been a lot closer. There are some positives we can take from it.”
One certainly would be that the Yellowjackets frustrated J-L’s high-octane offense in the first half. Despite not generating much offense itself, Vanderbilt was within striking distance, down just 18-7 at halftime.
“Who would have thought we would have held them to 18 points in the first half?” Rupe said.
The Cardinals’ horses eventually prevailed, giving them their second 30-plus point victory in as many games.
House, a returning all-state player, led the Cardinals with 15 points, while Schlicher added 13 points. Ormsbee and Stephanie Fisher chipped in eight points apiece for J-L (2-0).
Katie Hornshaw and Sam Jones each netted seven points for Vanderbilt.
J-L now heads into an early-season crucial battle at Onaway Wednesday in the Ski Valley Conference opener. Both are expected to contend for the SVC title.
“It’s huge,” Huff said. “We’ve had some trouble playing up there and they have a lot of talent.”
Vanderbilt also has a big game in its defense of the Northern Lakes Conference title. The Yellowjackets open league play at a tough Ellsworth team Wednesday.
J-L thumps Fairview in district finals rematch Gaylord Herald Times
FAIRVIEW — It was a rematch of last season’s regional championship and, fortunately for Johannesburg-Lewiston, it was the same result.
The Cardinals stormed into the 2008-09 season with a convincing 62-25 thumping of the Eagles, who they defeated to advance to the Class D quarterfinal last season.
“We played really well — better than we have in our season opener the past four years,” said J-L coach Heather Huff. “I am very pleased. We ran really well. I was a little worried about not having school the day before, but we did a great job.”
Senior Ashlie House had 19 points and four assists to lead the Cardinals, while junior Mary Schlicher had a career game with 15 points, nine rebounds and six steals. Schlicher also shut down Fairview standout Kayla Weaver, holding her to just six points.
Senior Nikki Ormsbee chipped in nine points for J-L, who was playing without injured starter Amanda Head.
J-L opens up Ski Valley Conference play Thursday with a crucial battle at Onaway.
Girls Basketball Preview: J-L Cardinals Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls are hungry for more.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in school history — one that ended with a run to the Class D girls basketball quarterfinals, the Cardinals aren’t satisfied in relishing their accomplishments of last season.
With just one key player having graduated, J-L is loaded for another run. This time, however, they’ll be the target of much of the opposition’s best effort.
“There’s definitely a lot more pressure on us and on me this season,” said J-L coach Heather Huff, who guided the Cardinals to a district and regional championship. “We are going to take it one game at a time, but these girls would like to go even further this year.”
That isn’t a stretch, given the amount of talent returning for the Cardinals. It starts with senior point guard Ashlie House, who is closing in on 1,000 career points. The 2008 Herald Times Area Player of the Year averaged 16 points, five rebounds, five steals and three assists last season.
House’s athleticism and shooting has been a key reason for the slow turnaround of the Cardinal program, one that started when many of the current seniors played on varsity as freshmen.
“Last year was nice, but now it’s our class’s turn to make a mark,” said senior forward Jessica Sewell, one of four players on their fourth year on varsity.
Do-it-all Nikki Ormsbee and Christina Winkelman are the other two who have seen the program transform from a middle-of-the road Ski Valley Conference team to a Northern Michigan powerhouse.
It’s not just the seniors who will be crucial, however. Junior guard Stephanie Fisher may be the Cardinals’ most gifted player, as she forms a formidable back court with House and Ormsbee. Fisher was a First-Team All-Area pick last year when she averaged 13 points, five steals and four assists. Ormsbee, a defensive stopper, averaged seven points, four steals and four assists.
Winkelman and juniors Brandi Lester and Katelyn Fisher are expected to contribute at the guard positions.
Juniors Amanda Head and Mary Schlicher return to give the Cardinals a strong inside presence. The Cardinals will most surely miss the physical play of graduated Bridget Fisher, but Head appears poised to add to her averages of eight points and eight rebounds last year. Schlicher, a standout on last year’s undefeated junior varsity team, had some varsity action last season. Sewell will also be a key contributor in the post.
The road to success surely won’t be without bumps.
The team has already had to weather a rash of injuries, one that may not allow the team to play at 100 percent until the New Year.
“The key is to keep healthy,” Huff said.
The Cardinals, who finished second to Central Lake in the Ski Valley Conference last year, will again battle in a rugged conference that features the state’s leading returning scorer in Central Lake sophomore Jasmine Hines. Always-tough Onaway and an improved St. Mary squad will make for some big games.
“We’d like to win the Ski Valley outright,” Huff said. “That’s something we haven’t done yet.”