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Showerman's All-State honors headline host of area postseason awards

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Half-Court Hopes: Cardinals hope offensive sets complement their transition game

2015-16 GIRLS J.V. & VARSITY BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

Date
Day
Time
H-A
Opponent
J.V.
Results
Varsity Results
Dec 01, 2015
Tue
6:00 PM
A
W 43-6
W 59-44
Dec 04, 2015
Fri
5:30 PM
A
LOST
W 64-37
Dec 10, 2015
Thu
6:00 PM
H
W 45-16
W 69-30
Dec 11, 2015
Fri
6:00 PM
H
WON
W 67-21
Dec 16, 2015
Wed
6:00 PM
A
WON
W 67-32
Dec 18, 2015
Fri
6:00 PM
A
L 41-22
W 43-41
Jan 06, 2016
Wed
6:00 PM
A
W 30-17
W 59-37
Jan 11, 2016
Mon
6:00 PM
H
VS. Boyne Falls High School
(Junior Varsity vs. Mio)
Cherwinski's 3-point shooting lifts
Cardinals over visiting Loggers
LOST
W 58-27
Jan 13, 2016
Wed
6:00 PM
H
W 33-24
L 59-55
Jan 20, 2016
Wed
6:00 PM
H
L 28-25
W 62-42
Jan 22, 2016
Fri
6:00 PM
A
WON
W 50-38
Jan 26, 2016
Tue
6:00 PM
A
TBA
W 63-42
Jan 28, 2016
Thu
6:00 PM
H
VS. Inland Lakes High School
L 22-17
W 61-43
Feb 02, 2016
Tue
6:00 PM
H
L 44-22
W 61-59
Double OT
Feb 04, 2016
Thu
6:00 PM
H
W 30-27
W 59-35
Feb 11, 2016
Thu
6:00 PM
A
L 31-22
W 36-31
Feb 16, 2016
Tue
6:00 PM
H
W 27-19
W 73-57
Feb 18, 2016
Thu
6:00 PM
A
W 35-29
W 60-57
Feb 23, 2016
Tue
6:00 PM
A
TBA
W 69-48
Feb 29, 2016 Mon
6:00
PM
A
L 77-51

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Showerman's All-State honors headline host of area postseason awards

By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

EAST LANSING — Madison Showerman's dedication to training in the offseason and getting up extra shots in the regular season were apparent, but teammate Taylor Kroll deserved some of the credit, too.

The Associated Press named Showerman to its Class C All-State First Team prior to Tuesday's girls basketball quarterfinal games.

The 5-foot-11 center led Johannesburg-Lewiston to an 18-2 finish, Ski Valley championship and appearance in the Class C district tournament.

However, it was Kroll's pre-game tunes in the locker room that helped Showerman get amped up for games and play loose.

"Taylor always had interesting music for us to listen to in the locker room," Showerman said. "It's something we've always done. If we didn't do that, it'd be weird for us.

"We always listened to music in the locker room to get ready for games, and I'll miss that."

Showerman scored 452 points during the regular season to lead not only her team but the Ski Valley. She also grabbed 199 rebounds, had 71 steals and shot 51 percent from the floor.

During a 59-37 win Jan. 6 at Central Lake, Showerman scored her 1,000th career point — a head nod to one stellar four-year varsity campaign.

"It's pretty exciting to be All-State," Showerman said. "I didn't expect it because I've only gotten Honorable Mention in past years, but I think it's pretty cool because of the year we had.

"I'm pretty bummed we lost early in the district, but I thought we proved a lot of people wrong this season. We wanted to win the district, but we got booted after the first game."

Two St. Mary players joined Showerman on the All-State list as sophomore Alex Hunter was Second Team and senior Bekah Myler was Honorable Mention in Class D.

The duo helped the Snowbirds finish 22-4, win district and regional championships and appear in the state quarterfinal. St. Mary ultimately fell to third-ranked Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, which played in Saturday's state championship, 27-26 in the quarterfinal Tuesday.

As only a sophomore, Hunter scored 290 points in the regular season and contributed 107 assists, 92 steals and 62 rebounds to the Snowbirds.

Myler, who capped off an impressive four-year career, ended the regular season with 288 points, 155 rebounds and 51 steals.

Ski Valley names 8 area players all-conference

• Showerman, Hunter and Myler headlined the Ski Valley's all-conference team as each were named First Team two weeks ago.

Also joining that trio was J-L senior Kelsey Cherwinski, who finished her career on the First Team.

J-L seniors Kate Heidman and Sarah Korff as well as St. Mary's Averi Bebble and Giorgi Nowicki each earned Honorable Mention honors.

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2nd-quarter letdown dooms Cardinals in pre-district loss to Lakers
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

MAPLE CITY — The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team couldn't slow down its opponent for just one quarter, and that slip up ultimately cost it a chance to remain in the tournament.

Madison Showerman finished with a double-double (28 points, 12 rebounds), but the Cardinals lost to host Glen Lake 77-51 in the Class C pre-district Monday.

The Lakers outscored J-L 28-9 in the second quarter, utilizing their heady defense to create turnovers and steals with their press. Some of those turnovers converted into easy points in transition.

The Cardinals, who finished the season 19-2 overall, had trailed only 14-11 entering the second quarter.

"We just got down so bad in the second quarter that we couldn't get out of it," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We played them very well for three quarters, but we just had that one quarter where we really got outscored. We played them pretty even the rest of the game."

The Cardinals struggled to inbound the ball after Glen Lake made its baskets, and the Lakers' pressure defense also smothered J-L's ball handlers early on during possessions — especially in the second period.

"There was a point before halftime where they pressed," Huff said. "We didn't get the ball out quick enough, and then we had a problem getting it entered. We had a few turnovers they scored off."

Kelsey Cherwinski finished with 12 points and four assists for the Cardinals while Kate Heidman nabbed six steals, and Sarah Korff had five rebounds.

Also playing well for J-L was junior Taylor Kroll, who finished with eight rebounds and six points.

"The girls played super hard and didn't quit," Huff said. "They kept their heads up and played with everything they had. I was proud of them for that.

"If it were a different day and we don't have that one bad quarter, the game could have come out differently, but it didn't happen. At least, they can say they played hard Lady Cards' basketball all the way to the end."

The Cardinals graduate seven seniors from this year's team, including Heidman and Korff. However, it'll be tough for them to replace the production of Showerman and Cherwinski, who were each all-state players last year.

"Maddy played varsity for four years, and we had Kelsey for three," Huff said. "I'm just going to miss them a ton because of all their dedication in the offseason. I'll be calling on them to come back and help me when we need them at practices.

"They'll definitely be tough to replace, and I told the underclassmen it's time for them to go to work because they have some big boots to fill."

The win advanced Glen Lake to the district semifinal where it'll host Mancelona for a game Wednesday, March 2.

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Boosted confidence, newfound balance to guide Cardinals during district tournament
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Like almost every season, Johannesburg-Lewiston has a tough road if it wants to play in the Class C girls basketball state championship March 19 at Michigan State University.

The Cardinals' first stop, however, is a pre-district matchup against host Glen Lake in Maple City, a two-hour trip away from Johannesburg.

Helping the Cardinals this season is a pair of wins over rival St. Mary as well as a late-season victory over Bellaire.

"Winning the big games like that tends to boost our confidence," J-L coach Heather Huff said.

Against the Lakers, J-L will rely on a host of players. Early AP all-state candidates, Madison Showerman and Kelsey Cherwinski, have led the Cardinals with their senior leadership and lights-out play all year long.

Showerman has spearheaded the team with her athletic play, both shooting from the outside and down low in the post. Cherwinski, on the other hand, has helped J-L with her 3-point shooting and defense — always swiping steals during key points of games to ignite long runs.

"We'll still need Maddy and Kelsey to step up and make those big plays in the district," Huff said. "We have balance with our team this year, but it's also our leaders we'll still need to provide us with leadership."

Also helping the Cardinals will be Sarah Korff, Haley McVannel, Kate Heidman and Taylor Kroll, who have all found their roles on the team.

Kroll, in particular, has developed more of a presence in the low post, helping with rebounds and clean-up shots, and has developed a one-two punch with Showerman, who often plays in the high post.

"Taylor has been like our little secret weapon," Showerman said. "She's come on well. She pretty much grabs every rebound. If I miss it, she'll grab it.

"When I'm in the high post, and she's in the low post, it works out really well for us. We can dish it down to each other, and it's nice."

If the Cardinals can get past Glen Lake, they'll advance to face Mancelona in the district semifinal. They topped the Ironmen 69-30 and 50-36 during the regular season.

A win over Mancelona places the Cardinals in the district championship where a likely matchup against Traverse City St. Francis awaits. The Gladiators spent all season ranked in the AP top-10 poll and recorded wins against Class A schools such as Gaylord and Traverse City Central as well as one win over Cadillac, a Class B program.

Whichever school captures the district title, it'll advance to the regional semifinal held March 8 at J-L.

A home regional provides even more motivation for the Cardinals to try their best once they begin the district tournament.

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Cardinals win Ski Valley tight after beating Hornets on the road
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

PELLSTON — It took an inspired fourth quarter, but the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team got it done Tuesday.

Madison Showerman had a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds), and the Cardinals beat host Pellston 69-48 to clinch the outright Ski Valley championship, their first league title in four seasons.

The Cardinals (18-1, 15-1 Ski Valley) needed an all-out effort in the final eight minutes to win the championship, as they led Pellston only 48-45 exiting the third quarter.

"The girls were really excited about it, and that was a huge goal of theirs," J-L coach Heather Huff said.

"For them, in the fourth quarter, to dig deep, they went after it, played hard defense, got steals, looked for each other and got transition baskets. We were flowing, and you could see the determination that they wanted it to happen (win the conference championship)."

J-L led Pellston 24-6 following the first quarter, but the Hornets fought back to outscore the Cardinals 13-8 in the second. They then outscored J-L 26-16 in the third to make it a three-point game entering the fourth.

If it weren't for eight points each from Showerman and Taylor Kroll, who had a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds), in the third, the Cardinals would have been in even bigger trouble.

"In the first quarter, we played well individually," Huff said. "In the second quarter, we got impatient and looked for our own shots. It's not that they weren't open shots, but we didn't work them in for better shots.

"That continued in the second half, despite Taylor Kroll and Maddy having eight points each in the third. That kept us in the ball game."

In the fourth quarter, everyone's effort improved for J-L.

"Everyone got into their flow, and our offense was working better," Huff said. "We started playing more in sync and reading each other to create better openings for better shots.

"We played better defensively."

Another key was the defense of J-L senior Kate Heidman, who held Pellston's leading scorer, Hanah Carter, to no points in the fourth.

"Kate held Hanah scoreless in the fourth, and Hanah had 22 points before that," Huff said. "That tells you how the fourth went because Hanah had four 3s and four 2s earlier in the game."

Kelsey Cherwinski played well, scoring 18 points and recording eight assists and three steals for the Cardinals. She made four 3-pointers.

Heidman finished with six steals and three points while Tiffany McDonald helped with six points and five rebounds.

The Cardinals host Fairview for a non conference game Thursday, Feb. 25. The game is also their season finale before they visit Glen Lake and face the Lakers in the Class C pre-district Monday, Feb. 29.

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Showerman 'plays huge' as Cardinals clinch share of Ski Valley title
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

ONAWAY — Johannesburg-Lewiston senior Madison Showerman shot 10-for-11 from the free throw line, and the Cardinals needed every last one of those foul shots to accomplish their goal Thursday.

Showerman finished with a double-double (30 points, 10 rebounds), and J-L edged host Onaway 60-57 in a Ski Valley girls basketball game to clinch at least a share of the league title.

The senior was 2-for-3 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, ensuring J-L did what it could to fend off a late Onaway comeback.

"If we weren't shooting our free throws in the second half like we were tonight, we probably would have lost," J-L coach Heather Huff said.

"Maddy played huge for us tonight, and our free throws won us the ball game. Luckily they were fouling Maddy. She was making them tonight."

J-L (17-1, 14-1 Ski Valley) led by as many as six points in the fourth quarter, but it looked to run out the clock as time wore down.

"We tried to run out the clock," Huff said. "We took a lot of time off the clock, starting with four minutes left."

J-L needed a host of players to help edge Onaway. That included junior Claire Huber sinking a 3-pointer and finishing with seven points with a solid first-quarter effort, giving J-L a 17-8 lead after the period.

"Claire came in the first quarter and did a heck of a job," Huff said. "She did a great job off the bench for us by hitting a 3 and a couple of 2s."

Also playing well for J-L were Kate Heidman (12 steals), Taylor Kroll (10 rebounds) and Haley McVannel (five assists).

"Kate did a heck of a job on defense," Huff said. "She came from behind and picked off people.

"I thought Haley did a nice job tonight. She scored a couple of baskets for us, but they were at the most important times. She also played solid defense."

J-L returns to the hardwood when it visits Pellston for a Ski Valley game Tuesday, Feb. 23. A win for the Cardinals gives them the outright conference championship.

"It doesn't feel good enough to have just a share of it," Huff said. "We want to win that game and have it all to ourselves."

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After beating Hornets, Cardinals 1 win from clinching share of Ski Valley title
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston is one conference win away from clinching a share of the Ski Valley title.

Madison Showerman scored 34 points, and the Cardinals beat visiting Pellston 73-57 during a conference girls basketball game Tuesday.

The Cardinals (16-1, 13-1 Ski Valley) haven't won the conference championship since the 2012-13 season, but they can win it outright with two Ski Valley wins to close out the year.

"I think that's huge," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "A lot of people counted us out for being at the top of the league this year.

"I don't know if that's just my perception of it, but I knew we'd be strong with Maddy and Kelsey (Cherwinski) coming back."

Cherwinski as well as Taylor Kroll each scored 11 points against the Hornets while Kate Heidman added five.

Showerman was equally as dangerous on offense for the Cardinals.

"Maddy was on fire on offense," Huff said. "She scrapped and got us rebounds. She got put backs and had good post moves."

Pellston hung around with J-L for some of the game, as the Cardinals led only 39-31 at halftime. But they outscored the Hornets 24-11 in the third quarter and took a 63-43 advantage into the fourth.

"They were running on us," Huff said. "They got fast breaks. Their girls would fly in and make their lay ups."

The Cardinals hope to clinch a share of the Ski Valley title when they visit Onaway for a conference game Thursday, Feb. 18.

Huff said a conference championship would also be a hat tip to her other standouts, Haley McVannel, Sarah Korff, Tiffany McDonald, Kroll and Heidman.

"Haley and Sarah were big contributors for us last year, but I wasn't sure where that fourth person would fill in, but Kate has stepped up," Huff said. "I didn't know how we'd blend our fast-paced game with our slow-down game. But I think we did that pretty well this year with Taylor, Tiffany and my other bench players stepping up."

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Cardinals inch closer to Ski Valley title after beating Eagles
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

BELLAIRE — Johannesburg-Lewiston will have the final say over which girls basketball team wins the Ski Valley title this season.

The Cardinals edged host Bellaire 36-31 in a conference game Thursday, claiming sole possession of first place in the Ski Valley standings.

J-L (15-1, 12-1 Ski Valley) has three conference games remaining this season. Should it win each of them, it captures the conference crown.

"I told the girls after the game in the locker room that we can be happy but only just a little happy because we got to finish it," J-L coach Heather Huff said.

"We have to keep in mind that we still have business to finish here."

Against the Eagles, the Cardinals struggled with making their shots and rebounding on the defensive end in the first half.

Madison Showerman scored all nine of J-L's points in the first quarter, ensuring the Cardinals led Bellaire 9-7 after entering the second.

"We missed a lot of shots we'd normally make," Huff said. "Kelsey (Cherwinski) wasn't hitting her shots. Luckily, Maddy hit hers in the first quarter. But it was a defensive game."

Offensive woes continued for the Cardinals in the second quarter, and Bellaire capitalized by scoring off offensive rebounds.

Showerman and Cherwinski each scored one basket in the period.

The Eagles carried a 19-13 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

"We sat in a zone and worked defensively," Huff said. "But they (Bellaire) got some shots off that weren't great. We didn't get the rebounds, and they got up a couple more shots.

"We had some decent looks, but they went in and out of the basket. Bellaire just did a nice job rebounding, and rebounding was our biggest issue in the first half."

The Cardinals turned around their game in the second half, both offensively and defensively.

Players such as Kate Heidman, Sarah Korff, Taylor Kroll and Haley McVannel each stepped up to contribute with Showerman and Cherwinski.

They helped the Cardinals tie Bellaire 23-23 in the third quarter and eventually pull away in the fourth.

At one point in the fourth, J-L garnered an eight-point lead and maintained a six-point advantage in the final minutes.

"In the second half, we did a better job on the boards and got up on them harder defensively," Huff said. "We got key steals in the third and scored off them. We continued that some more in the fourth.

"In the fourth, we were patient on offense to run the clock out once we got up on them. They fouled, and we went to the free throw line."

Heidman finished with seven steals, despite playing some of the second half with four fouls. Showerman eventually fouled out in the fourth, but Korff filled in well and grabbed rebounds. Offensively, Kroll improved her 

game in the second half to add a post presence for the Cardinals.

"Kate played well," Huff said. "Sarah did a nice job in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, with key rebounds. She boxed out really strong. She got key rebounds and was solid down there.

"Taylor played a little timid in the first half, but she played like a varsity player, like she did against St. Mary (Feb.2), in the second half and got some boards and fought for rebounds. She played a little soft in the first half which you wouldn't normally see from Taylor, but it was a high-pressure game."

McVannel was key in the second half as well.

"Haley McVannel played her best game all year," Huff said. "She played tough on defense, played smart and handled the pressure on offense.

"She got some good rebounds and played good, straight-up defense. She didn't let (Bellaire shooter Lindsay Lampman) score other than one 3-pointer in the first quarter. I thought she did a nice job."

J-L returns to the hardwood when it hosts Pellston for a Ski Valley game Tuesday, Feb. 16. A win over the Hornets gets the Cardinals one game closer to clinching the Ski Valley title.

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Photo Courtesy of Brandom Folsom Gaylord Herald Times

Sluggish start: Cardinals overcome early slump to beat Trojans in Ski Valley action
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — After a double overtime thriller Tuesday and a snow day Wednesday, no one could blame the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team for starting Thursday's game sluggish.

But for a team like the Cardinals, one expected to compete for a Ski Valley title and Class C district championship, that sluggishness usually wears off before halftime.

That wasn't so during J-L's 59-35 win against visiting Central Lake, as the Cardinals needed a pep talk from their coach before playing an inspired second half and slowing down the Trojans in the third quarter.

"We had quite the discussion at halftime that the first half wasn't Lady Cards basketball," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "I thought they responded well.

"(Offensively), we weren't cutting in front of their (zone) defense or being a presence by cutting. We just didn't do what we know how to do or play a smart kind of basketball."

The Cardinals (14-1, 11-1 Ski Valley) changed their style of play to a smart kind of basketball to open the second half.

Their defense held Central Lake to only two points in the third quarter while their offense found success running in transition and while playing in the half-court.

Kate Heidman gave J-L a 33-20 lead after burying a baseline jumper to open the half, and then Madison Showerman, who scored 17 points, made a 4-foot shot one possession later.

Before the period ended, Showerman hooked up with Taylor Kroll for back-to-back scores in the post. Showerman, playing in the high post, passed down low to Kroll, who banked in a pair of field goals.

Kroll's effort ensured J-L led Central Lake 41-22 after the third quarter. The Cardinals outscored the Trojans 18-13 in the fourth to secure the win.

"I thought we did a good job of balancing when the fast break wasn't there to slow it down and set it up on offense to look for a better shot in the second half," Huff said.

"Our defense stepped up. Our press was working better. They were getting steals and looking to get transition baskets. We rebounded better and got transition baskets off of rebounds and their (Central Lake) missed shots, too. We got it out quicker and got up the floor."

The Cardinals started the game playing well, even outscoring Central Lake 13-5 in the first quarter.

However, they struggled in the second, as Central Lake opened on a 4-0 run and trimmed its deficit to only four points early in the period.

In the half's final minute, Central Lake's Cybil Ritchie scored on a lay up up and then stole the ball on the next possession. Off the steal, she was fouled and then made one free throw to make the score 22-20 with 39 seconds left in the half.

The Cardinals made the most of the period, however, as Claire Huber scored on a put back, Kelsey Cherwinski made a 3-pointer and Tiffany McDonald drained a 3 at the halftime buzzer.

J-L led Central Lake 30-20 at halftime.

"At the beginning, I thought we did alright," Huff said. "Then we let them (Central Lake) get back into it.

"We had turnovers and didn't take care of the ball. We didn't go up strong for rebounds and ended up with not getting some balls."

The Cardinals are off until they visit Bellaire for a Ski Valley game Thursday, Feb. 11.

They fell to the Eagles 59-55 during a Jan. 13 meeting. The winner of the Feb. 11 matchup will likely finish as the conference champion.

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No fluke: Heidman, Kroll help Cardinals edge Snowbirds in Rivals Rally
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Heather Huff said afterward that she should have worn more comfortable shoes.

To be fair, she didn't know her girls basketball team would take rival St. Mary into double overtime before edging the visiting Snowbirds 61-59 in its annual Rivals Rally game Tuesday.

What Huff did know, however, was that her Cardinals would need an entire team effort to beat St. Mary. That included a pair of clutch foul shots from veterans Madison Showerman and Kelsey Cherwinski, shutdown defense by senior Kate Heidman and a career night from junior Taylor Kroll, who scored 16 points and played well in the post.

"If you're exhausted (from watching the game), you should imagine how the girls feel," Huff said. "I'm pretty tired, too. I should have worn my tennis shoes or my flats because my feet are killing me."

The Cardinals (13-1, 10-1 Ski Valley) were tired because of the effort they exerted to win the game down the stretch of double overtime.

Trailing 59-57 with 1:05 left, Showerman sank a foul shot but missed her second attempt. Fortunately for the Cardinals, Kroll cleaned up the miss with a put back to nudge J-L ahead 60-59.

On back to back possessions, St. Mary had an opportunity to tie the score and take the lead, but Alex Hunter and Averi Bebble each missed two shots.

A foul with 5.4 seconds remaining put Cherwinski at the line, where she made one foul shot to give the Cardinals a two-point lead, 61-59.

The Snowbirds had one final possession to tie the score or win the game. Hunter drove through the paint and kicked out to teammate Emily Myler near the baseline, but the final buzzer rang before Myler's shot left her hands.

The win was key for the Cardinals because they wanted to prove their 43-41 win over St. Mary on Dec. 18 wasn't a fluke.

"The girls kept thinking we had to prove it wasn't a fluke," Huff said. "They wanted this so bad. They haven't won a Rivals Rally home game in a long time.

"This is Maddy's first year winning a home Rivals Rally game. We beat St. Mary in the other games, but this is Maddy's fourth year on the varsity and her first Rivals Rally win. They really wanted it bad."

With the start the Cardinals had, including top-notch efforts from Heidman and Kroll in the first half, it showed how hard St. Mary fought to send the game into overtime during the second half.

A Heidman 3-pointer gave J-L a 10-2 lead in the first quarter while she later hit Kroll with a pass that Kroll turned into two points and a trip to the foul line, giving the Cardinals a 15-6 advantage.

In the second quarter, Kroll banged in a 4-foot shot and then came up with back-to-back steals. Her second steal turned into a Showerman drive to the basket that gave J-L a 24-17 lead.

Heidman buried another 3-pointer just before halftime, and the Cardinals led St. Mary 29-20 heading into the locker room. Kroll scored seven points in the half, drew a handful of fouls and was a force that St. Mary wasn't prepared to handle early on.

Kroll's first-half performance wasn't a surprise to her and her teammates because she has slowly earned a larger role on the team over the past three weeks.

The junior's newfound confidence has helped her as well.

"Mrs. Huff and the team told me I am a presence and need to be one," she said. "They talked to me, and they didn't think St. Mary knew what to do with both me and Maddy in because I didn't really play in the first game.

"But Mrs. Huff has talked to me. Now I get less freaked out. I used to joke not to give me the ball because I'd get anxiety, but Mrs. Huff wants me to take it because I'm bigger than everyone else. With my team pushing me, that's what helped me (score) tonight."

Also helping the Cardinals in the first half was Heidman, who played tough man defense on Hunter — one of St. Mary's top scorers.

Hunter finished with 16 points, but Heidman limited her to only six points and three field goals in the first half.

"Kate knew she had played Alex really well last time we played her," Huff said. "She knew that she had to come out and work her butt off tonight.

"She had her hands full, but she did a great job with her. Kelsey had to take over after Kate fouled out (in the fourth quarter), but Kate spent a lot of time on defense pestering and doing a nice job not getting beaten to the basket."

Heidman said her preparation for the game helped her play well Tuesday.

"I watched game film from the last St. Mary game, and I saw who could pass and would passed the best," Heidman said. "And I knew Alex goes back to her left side and does a roll thing, so I focused on that and read the passes better this game."

Showerman led the Cardinals with 17 points while Cherwinski finished with 12.

Bekah Myler scored 15 points to help the Snowbirds, who dropped to 11-3 overall.

"Maddy took assertiveness to get to the rim when we needed to," Huff said. "Kelsey got big steals when we needed them, and she made good passes."

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Showerman, bench effort guide Cardinals past Warriors in road win
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

FIFE LAKE — Entering this week's games, Johannesburg-Lewiston's goal was to get better each day its girls basketball team practiced or played.

The Cardinals certainly got better Tuesday, as Madison Showerman scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead J-L past host Forest Area 63-42 in a Ski Valley game.

"We had a chance to work on some stuff," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "That was good because we were just working on different defenses.

"In the first half, we had a nice lead and worked on different defenses with our starters. We were happy with that."

The Cardinals (10-1, 7-1 Ski Valley) led Forest Area 21-8 after the first quarter and 38-15 at halftime. They carried a 56-26 advantage into the final eight minutes.

J-L juniors Claire Huber and Taylor Kroll both came in off the bench and performed well. Huber made a couple of 3-pointers and finished with 12 points and five rebounds while Kroll scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. Kroll also made a lay up on a fast break play.

"They (Forest Area) sagged off on Claire with their zone defense, and she was open for 3-pointers," Huff said. "She hit them. She had a few good put backs on the backside rebound and got them in, too.

"Taylor did a good job posting up strong and making her shots."

Also for the Cardinals, Sarah Korff grabbed eight rebounds, Kelsey Cherwinski chipped in six assists and five steals and Haley McVannel finished with five rebounds.

"I was happy we got to play a lot of everybody, and they held their own," Huff said. "In the second half, we mixed everybody differently.

"It took awhile for them to figure things out, but they did. We let them (Forest Area) score too many points, but when you put different combinations together, that happens."

The Cardinals return to action Thursday, Jan. 28 when they host Inland Lakes for a Ski Valley game.

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Patient offense guides Cardinals past Ironmen in road Ski Valley win
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

MANCELONA — Johannesburg-Lewiston put more of an emphasis on successfully running its half-court offense Friday, ensuring its girls basketball team got the most out of each possession at Mancelona.

Madison Showerman scored 24 points, and the Cardinals defeated the host Ironmen 50-36 in a Ski Valley game.

"We slowed it down and worked the ball around," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We didn't score a lot of fast breaks like we normally would.

"We had some, but I was pleased we worked the ball and worked on that part of our game."

The Cardinals, who improved to 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the Ski Valley, grabbed a quick 21-8 lead in the first quarter.

The big advantage helped them become more patient with each possession, and they used defense to create offense as well.

"We worked the ball inside out and had more ball movement to look for a better shot instead of one or two passes and then shooting," Huff said. "They did a good job of getting back on defense to stop their offense. We caused a lot of turnovers.

"We didn't score a lot on that. We brought it back out to set up our offense more than maybe we should have, but they did a good job on defense."

Kelsey Cherwinski made a pair of 3-pointers and finished with eight points for the Cardinals. Sarah Korff made one 3-pointer and scored seven points while Kate Heidman drained a 3 and had four points.

The Cardinals return to action when they visit Forest Area for a Ski Valley matchup Tuesday, Jan. 26.

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Kroll's career night sparks second-half run as J-L tops Onaway
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — To start the second half Wednesday, Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Heather Huff elected to play Taylor Kroll because starter Kate Heidman recorded four fouls in the first half.

Kroll scored a career-high eight points, dominated in the paint and sparked a big run in the third quarter that helped the girls basketball team defeat visiting Onaway 62-42 in a Ski Valley game.

"Kate got into foul trouble, so we started Taylor in the second half, and we worked on our inside game," Huff said. "That worked well.

"Maddy (Showerman) and Kelsey (Cherwinski) passed it into her in the post, and she got eight points. Maddy, especially, had good looks to Taylor on the inside in the third quarter."

J-L led Onaway only 35-20 at halftime, but Kroll scored six points in the third quarter and also participated in her team's press defense to help the Cardinals outscore Onaway 20-9 in the period.

Showerman paced J-L with 19 points, scoring 15 in the first half by taking advantage of close shot attempts. She had 12 rebounds and five steals as well. Cherwinski, who buried two 3-pointers in the third quarter, made four 3s and finished with 15 points and six steals.

Despite playing limited minutes, Heidman finished with nine points after making a trio of 3-pointers herself.

Faith Bartle finished with a career-high six points, sinking a 3-pointer a field goal and free throw. She contributed well late in the third quarter and nearly the entire fourth.

J-L (9-1, 6-1 Ski Valley) returns to the hardwood Friday, Jan. 22 when it visits Mancelona for a conference matchup.

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Photos Courtesy of Brandom Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times
Early collapse: Eagles' zone press bothers Cardinals in critical Ski Valley matchup
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — A couple of clutch plays from Johannesburg-Lewiston seniors Kelsey Cherwinski and Madison Showerman wasn't enough to bail out their girls basketball team from a huge deficit.

Bellaire senior Brandy O'Neal scored 27 points, and the Eagles upset the host Cardinals 59-55 in a pivotal Ski Valley clash Wednesday.

The Eagles (7-1, 6-1 Ski Valley) used a stellar defense to put together a 22-point second quarter. They fought off a late comeback by the Cardinals, dropping J-L (8-1, 5-1) to second place in the conference standings and handing them their first loss.

A Showerman lay up trimmed J-L's deficit to 57-52 with 37 seconds left.

After Bellaire sophomore Kennan Dawson hit one foul shot in the bonus, Cherwinski buried a 3-pointer that was shot well beyond the arc. The attempt cut Bellaire's lead to 58-55 with seven seconds remaining.

However, Bellaire senior Lindsay Lampman sank a foul shot five seconds later that secured the victory for the Eagles.

"I just shot it and hoped it went in," said Cherwinski of her late 3-pointer. "It ended up going in, my goodness."

Although the Cardinals lost, they almost overcame an 11-point halftime deficit.

"It says a lot that we don't give up," Cherwinski said. "I'm proud that we didn't give up."

The second quarter doomed J-L, however, as the Cardinals struggled with Bellaire's full-court zone press.

The Eagles forced turnovers nearly each time J-L brought the ball up the floor, turning most of those steals into points in transition.

O'Neal scored nine points in the period, helping Bellaire carry a 39-28 lead into halftime.

"Their press gave us some problems, and it shouldn't have because we handle presses all the time," J-L coach Heather Huff said.

"I don't think we played as a team like we normally do. We talked about that at halftime, and I thought we played better as a team after halftime."

The Cardinals opened the second half in a 2-3 zone to slow down O'Neal and the rest of the Eagles' offense. The change worked, and J-L outscored Bellaire 13-11 in the third quarter.

"They (Bellaire) weren't able to do that weave thing (man offense), but we had to get out of it because we were eating the clock and needed the ball," Huff said.

J-L also handled Bellaire's press better in the second half, utilizing passing and dribbling from its guards.

"I wasn't confident with my dribbling (in the first half)," Cherwinski said. "In the second half, we came out, and I just realized that I could get through it.

"The passing helped us a lot more because we were working as a team instead of playing by ourselves against the press."

The Cardinals started the game well, despite crumbling in the second quarter.

Cherwinski, who led J-L with 20 points, sank a 3-pointer 16 seconds after the opening tip off, and then Showerman hit a short shot underneath to put the Cardinals ahead 5-2 early.

Lampman made two foul shots to give Bellaire its first lead, a 6-5 edge, shortly afterward, but Showerman responded with another short 2-pointer.

A Sarah Korff steal turned into two points for Cherwinski, giving J-L a 9-8 advantage with four minutes left in the first quarter.

It was J-L's last lead, despite Tiffany McDonald hitting back-to-back lay ups for the Cardinals.

O'Neal finished the period with two baskets, using backdoor cuts and screens, and Bellaire had a 17-15 lead entering the second quarter.

"It was frustrating because you could see it happening (backdoor cuts and screens) before it even happened," Cherwinski said. "You were too late to even stop it."

Showerman finished with 17 points for the Cardinals while junior Taylor Kroll came off the bench and scored six.

Bellaire sophomore Lexi Niepoth, who played shutdown defense for most the game, added 11 points, and Lampman had 10.

"We had too many turnovers," Huff said. "We didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had.

"I told them that I'm proud of them because they scraped and scraped out of the hole, and they worked hard to try and come out of it. It was just a little too late. They did show a lot of character trying to dig deep to make it happen. It just wasn't our night."

J-L returns Friday, Jan. 15 when it visits Pellston for a conference game.

However, the Cardinals already have revenge on their mind for their Feb. 11 matchup at Bellaire.

"We want redemption, definitely," Cherwinski said. "We want to come back and beat them by a lot or, at least, beat them."

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Cherwinski's 3-point shooting lifts Cardinals over visiting Loggers
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — After not having practice Friday and Sunday, the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team needed senior Kelsey Cherwinski to shoot the Cardinals out of their slow start Monday.

The senior buried three 3-pointers in the first quarter, finished with 16 points and ignited the Cardinals to a 58-27 win over visiting Boyne Falls.

"We actually missed some of our easy buckets we normally make early on," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We had a three-day break after giving them Friday off, and we didn't practice Sunday. We didn't have school today, so that had something to do with it. It took us time to get going."

Cherwinski made four 3-pointers in all while Madison Showerman led the Cardinals with 22 points.

Kate Heidman, who had six points, also made a first-quarter 3-pointer.

"Kelsey was that spark again we needed like she often does," Huff said. "They (Boyne Falls) played a zone defense, so that left the outside shots open for her and the girls.

"They really sagged in and tried to seal the inside."

After the Cardinals (8-0, 5-0 Ski Valley) had found an offensive rhythm, each player checked into the game and contributed.

Also scoring for J-L was Taylor Kroll, who had five points, followed by Tiffany McDonald four, Sarah Korff three and Haley McVannel two.

"We ran our offense and had good looks, but I think we over-passed a little bit in the first quarter," Huff said. "We got more into a flow in the second half. We kept subbing a lot, and everybody got to play."

The Cardinals return to the hardwood Wednesday, Jan. 13 when they host Bellaire for a pivotal Ski Valley matchup. A win for the Eagles (6-1, 5-1) could force a two-way tie for first place in the standings with St. Mary (7-2, 4-1) lurking behind in third place.

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Photo Courtesy of Donna Nowak Robillard
Showerman scores 1,000th career point as Lady Cards down Trojans
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

CENTRAL LAKE — For the second time this winter, a Johannesburg-Lewiston basketball player has reached the 1,000th career point milestone.

J-L senior Madison Showerman achieved that honor during her team's 59-37 girls basketball win Wednesday at Central Lake. She scored 29 points, but it was her basket midway through the second quarter that gave her the career mark.

With the effort, she joined J-L senior Logan Huff, who entered the 1,000th-point club during a Dec. 15 win at Mancelona earlier this boys basketball season.

Like Huff's milestone, the school elected to not tell Showerman before the game that she was on the brink of reaching 1,000 points.

"I'm excited because I knew I was close, but I had no idea how close," she said. "I was kind of suspicious because my dad lives downstate, and he told me he was coming to the game. That doesn't happen, and a bunch of random people came to the game who don't normally come."

Showerman admitted afterward that it was a good thing J-L kept it a secret because she said she would have been nervous while playing.

"She's worked so hard over the years and in middle school and playing travel ball," said J-L coach Heather Huff, who is also Logan's mother. "She definitely earned it and put the work in. She put extra work into preparing for this season, and I'm so happy for her."

Added Showerman: "It means a lot to me, and I'm thankful that my team is supportive of it. It was always my goal to get up on the board one day. It's kind of cool that Logan and I both got it."

Against the Trojans, J-L escaped the first quarter with a 12-10 lead before carrying a 29-20 advantage into halftime.

"In the first half, we had a hard time getting going," Coach Huff said. "We had good looks, but baskets weren't falling.

"We let them score ones they shouldn't have scored. They were getting them inside, and we weren't stopping it."

The Cardinals (7-0, 5-0 Ski Valley) improved their play in the second half and outscored Central Lake 17-7 in the third quarter.

J-L senior Kelsey Cherwinski, who has assisted on several of Showerman's baskets over the past four seasons, scored nine points.

"She's had some really good passes to Maddy," Coach Huff said. "We talked about how Maddy's 1,000 points don't happen without the good passes they've given her, especially Kelsey's."

Also performing well, senior Tiffany McDonald scored a career-high nine points. She buried a 3-pointer in the third quarter and made three field goals in the fourth.

The Cardinals return to action Monday, Jan. 11 when they host Boyne Falls for a non conference game.

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Spark plug: Cherwinski's play helps Cardinals start undefeated
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston coach Heather Huff knew Kelsey Cherwinski would be an exceptional girls basketball player when Cherwinski was only an eighth-grader.

Cherwinski was the varsity's team manager then. She often snuck into drills and would practice with the older players. Sometimes she showed off her pesky defense and other times she'd shoot lights outs.

The Cardinals (6-0, 4-0 Ski Valley) scrimmaged Gaylord on Wednesday at home. Cherwinski, a four-year varsity player and now a senior, showcased some of that talent that attracted Huff to her game so many years ago while facing the Blue Devils.

"The thing that originally attracted me to her when she was an eighth-grader, because she was my manager then, is she just had that spark you could always see," Huff said. "She had that desire always to get better, and she always played her heart out. She gives you everything she has when she's on the floor."

That spark Huff mentioned is Cherwinski's ability to be clutch during critical moments of games. Whether it's a crucial steal or a 3-pointer that ignites a long run, Cherwinski is always the one to make it happen.

During J-L's 43-41 win Dec. 18 at St. Mary, she buried three first-half 3-pointers before finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Those 3-pointers helped the Cardinals take the lead twice and then snap a tie right before halftime, ensuring her team always maintained the pace of the game even when its play got sluggish.

"She is a key player, and she always has that little spark," Huff said.

She's just as clutch on defense and is one of J-L's leaders in steals.

"She's quick on defense and comes up with little steals right when you need them," Huff said. "She can hassle somebody and get a tip on it. Even if she doesn't get the complete steal, she can get a hand on it and get a deflection.

"Between that defensive spark and her shots offensively, she's what you'd call a spark plug."

Cherwinski, who was an AP All-State Honorable Mention alongside teammate Madison Showerman last season, didn't get good overnight.

She spent extra effort improving her game leading up to the season's start. She practiced at the community center and worked on her shooting at the high school.

"I've practiced to get the right form and not to get so pressured when someone plays good defense on me," Cherwinski said. "I learned to get more relaxed, and I can see (driving) lanes more than when I used to."

Cherwinski was one of the team's best shooters last season. But with players such as Showerman, Mady Ewing and Emily Aisthorpe playing, Cherwinski wasn't asked to score a lot of points.

Now the team has required Cherwinski to be one of its top scorers as well as a senior leader, and she has recognized that this winter.

"I've tried to score more," she said. "I've never really had to score before. This year, with a lot of seniors that graduated, I had to step up and be a bigger scorer than I used to be.

"I've tried to be a better leader this year. I have to get other girls opportunities (to perform well) and have the positive attitude the other girls had last year."

Added Huff: "I think she's stepping up her mental part of the game. She's playing like a senior and playing with the experience she's gained from being on the varsity for four years."

The Cardinals return from the holiday break Wednesday, Jan. 6 when they visit Central Lake for a Ski Valley game.

Huff hopes Cherwinski continues to play at a high level when the season begins again. She also wants Cherwinski to utilize some of those traits she admired when Cherwinski was in middle school.

"The thing that attracted me first was her hustle and defense before her offense did," Huff said. 'She was always a good passer, and then she learned to become a good shooter."

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Seniors Soar: 4 Cardinals fashion clutch efforts while beating rival Snowbirds

By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

GAYLORD — A head cold that limited Johannesburg-Lewiston seniors Kate Heidman and Sarah Korff in Thursday's girls basketball practice wasn't going to keep them from having clutch efforts Friday in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.

The Cardinals edged host St. Mary 43-41 in a rivalry matchup for the ages, relying on late-game steals from both Heidman and Korff to secure a crucial Ski Valley win in their quest for a conference title.

After Madison Showerman had made two foul shots to give J-L its two-point lead with 25 seconds left, St. Mary drew up one final play to score a basket to either take the lead or send the game into overtime.

St. Mary's goal was to get sophomore Alex Hunter an open jump shot. Gabby Schultz, who normally doesn't handle the ball, looked to pass to Hunter on the left wing. Instead, Heidman jumped into the passing lane, swiped the ball before Hunter could grab it and wound up draining down the clock to 1.3 seconds.

A jump ball gave the Snowbirds possession again, but Korff stole a half-court inbounds pass intended for Hunter. Korff then held onto the ball until time expired, improving J-L's record to 6-0 overall.

"Sarah, yesterday, couldn't swallow, Kate couldn't breathe, and they gave it their all and played through all that," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "They practiced Thursday and showed their tenacity and how tough they are tonight. They showed their will to win and how important this was to them."

The initial game-saving steal was sweet redemption for Heidman, who had spent time covering Hunter throughout the game.

Heidman, as well as the other Cardinals, did well limiting Hunter's shooting attempts in the first half. But halftime adjustments helped Hunter find scoring opportunities in the second half.

Hunter scored nine of her 15 points in the third and fourth quarters, sometimes racing past Heidman for short-range attempts.

In the end, it was Heidman who got the best of the matchup by jumping Schultz's pass and eating 11 seconds off the clock.

"I was just super happy. I was really hoping that was what would put it in the bag, and it did," Heidman said. "I saw it wasn't a great pass, and it was kind of loose. I just tried to race her to the ball."

It wasn't an easy steal for Heidman to swipe.

"I'm not going to lie; I was super nervous at first," she said. "I knew she (Hunter) was super fast, but I knew I had to give her a little more extra room than I normally do."

Huff couldn't believe how well the play unfolded for Heidman.

"I was like, 'Who ah, I love you,'" Huff said. "I just wanted her to jump stop (after the steal) and hold onto that thing.

"That was a little feather in her cap."

Heidman wasn't the only senior throwing her hat into the ring.

Seniors Showerman and Kelsey Cherwinski were just as exciting to watch.

Showerman scored 10 of her 23 points in the first quarter, cleaning up offensive rebounds for put-back shots and extra possessions. On one trip down the floor, she grabbed four offensive rebounds and eventually scored on a lay-in that gave J-L a 30-23 lead in the third.

"We really stressed about getting rebounds in practice," Showerman said. "We just kept that in our minds the whole game."

Showerman finished with 20 rebounds (nine offensive) and four steals.

"I think I just knew I had to out rebound other people for us to win it," she said. "If we didn't get rebounds, we couldn't have gotten up the floor.

"Offensively, we needed them to get it back up (for points)."

Added Huff: "We absolutely do not win this game (without Showerman's rebounds).

"That's the part of her game that she has really been working the hardest at. She, for the first three years, has been our off guard (shooting guard) and sometimes our point guard. She knew this year she had to be one of our main post players, so she has just stepped up her game another level. She made it her mission to get rebounds."

Cherwinski, on the hand, continued to be the J-L's sharpshooter. The senior buried a trio of 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Her first 3-pointer gave J-L its first lead, a 5-3 advantage in the first quarter. She gave the Cardinals an 18-13 lead after dropping a 3 from the elbow in the second, and then she snapped a 21-21 tie with a 3 later in the period.

"Those 3-pointers she hit in the first half just were a kick start and spark every time we needed it," Huff said.

The Cardinals hope to carry their momentum from Friday's win into the holiday vacation.

They return from break Wednesday, Jan. 6 by visiting Central Lake for a Ski Valley game, but they're also keeping their eye on their Feb. 2 rematch with the Snowbirds at home.

"(The win) doesn't mean we let up, that's for sure," Huff said. "You look at the next goal. At the beginning of the season, you set all your goals. Obviously, beating St. Mary is one of them.

"And we got to keep working and do that again. We have to do that when they come to our place with revenge in mind. We have to work extra hard in practice."

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Photo Courtesy of Gaylord Herald Times

Showerman, Cherwinski lead Cardinals' offense to win against Bulldogs
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

INDIAN RIVER — Madison Showerman scored 25 points, and Kelsey Cherwinski had 22 to help the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team defeat host Inland Lakes 67-32 in Ski Valley play Dec. 16.

The Cardinals outscored the Bulldogs 24-8 in the first quarter and limited them to eight points or fewer in the first three periods.

Showerman finished 9-for-17 from the floor and 7-for-11 while shooting foul shots. She grabbed 10 points and had six assists.

Cherwinski buried two 3-pointers and was 10-for-19 shooting with six assists and four steals.

J-L's Kate Heidman chipped in five points, Sarah Korff grabbed nine rebounds and Taylor Kroll pulled down seven boards.

The Cardinals (6-0) return to the hardwood Wednesday, Jan. 6 when they visit Central Lake for a conference game.

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Photo Courtesy of Gaylord Herald Times

Improved Toughness: Heidman's defensive play sparks Cardinals in rout of Warriors
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — Kate Heidman's biggest improvement since last season is how much aggressiveness she plays with on defense now.

The Johannesburg-Lewiston senior has her boyfriend, Logan Huff, to thank for that. The couple plays competitive games of one-on-one during gym class and before Heidman's girls basketball practices.

And Huff doesn't back down when he guards Heidman either, making her tougher and more aggressive with each pick-up game.

Heidman's newfound aggressiveness came in handy Friday. J-L topped visiting Forest Area 67-21 in a Ski Valley game, and her tenacity at the top of the Cardinals' full-court press halted several Warriors' offensive sets, created points in transition and gave her team an early lead.

"Logan and I go at it, so he really gets me to be more aggressive when he pushes me around on the court," Heidman said.

Heidman was the one pushing the Warriors around Friday.

In the first quarter, she swiped four steals and created havoc for Forest Area's point guards. She hounded ball handlers on inbounds plays and tipped passes.

She created opportunities for her teammates — such as Madison Showerman and Kelsey Cherwinski — to get steals of their own by forcing Forest Area into making contested passes.

Her effort helped J-L grab a 12-2 lead in the first three minutes and a 24-2 advantage halfway through the period.

The Cardinals carried a 27-4 lead into the second quarter and were ahead 46-13 at halftime thanks to their defense.

"(Heidman) didn't get as much playing time last year," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "She often fouled, so she had to learn how to be able to play good defense where she really pesters them and gets them flustered without fouling as much."

There was an incentive for Heidman to improve her defense, too.

"To be a starter, I had to get more aggressive," she said. "Coach kind of taught me to be more aggressive and step up to the plate."

But it wasn't just Heidman's defense that has improved.

She finished with three rebounds and two assists. Although she was scoreless Friday, she was a reliable shooter from downtown in J-L's first three games.

"Offensively, she's come a long ways, too," Coach Huff said. 'She's hit a couple of 3s in every game we've played.

"She's doing really well. It's all-around with defense, passing, and she's a really good teammate."

Showerman and Cherwinski benefited from Heidman's play in both phases.

Showerman finished 8-for-22 shooting with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists. She was 8-for-9 from the foul line and also had five steals, some because of Heidman's pesky tips.

Cherwinski was 9-for-16 from the floor. She scored 22 points and had seven steals, six assists and four rebounds.

Also for the Cardinals (4-0, 2-0 Ski Valley), Taylor Kroll pulled down seven rebounds (five offensive) while Claire Huber and Faith Bartle each grabbed four.

Looking ahead, J-L visits Inland Lakes (1-2) for a Ski Valley game Wednesday, Dec. 16 before it visits rival St. Mary for a conference matchup Friday, Dec. 18.

"(In practice), we're working hard to be in good shape for next week with extra conditioning and shooting," Coach Huff said. "All week we're going to work on what we have to do to stop (St. Mary forward Bekah Myler and point guard Alex Hunter).

"Obviously, they got other players, too, but they'll be looking to defend Kelsey and Maddy, too, in the same respect."

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Cardinals use opportunistic defense to down Ironmen in Ski Valley opener
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

JOHANNESBURG — The three-headed monster that is Johannesburg-Lewiston seniors Kelsey Cherwinski, Madison Showerman and Kate Heidman ignited their girls basketball team's defense to a stellar performance Thursday against visiting Mancelona.

The Cardinals, which used their full-court press for only the first quarter, swiped 25 steals en route to a 69-30 win over the visiting Ironmen in their Ski Valley opener.

Cherwinski led the defense with eight steals while Showerman and Heidman had six apiece.

"We pressed them in the first quarter, and it caused them some trouble," J-L coach Heather Huff said.

"We played really good defense with double teams and help defense."

The score was tied 6-6 in the first until J-L adjusted its defense.

"It stayed tied for a little bit, but then we took over after switching defenses to get a lot of steals and transition baskets," Huff said.

"We sat in the zone the whole second half."

Offensively, Showerman shot 10-for-19 for 22 points, Cherwinski scored 15, and Heidman chipped in eight.

The Cardinals received a surprise effort from much-improved junior Claire Huber, who scored seven points off the bench. She also had three assists.

"Claire had a great game," Huff said. "She plays really long. She's come so far, and she plays aggressively. She used to be very timid. Now she gets in there and fights for rebounds."

The Cardinals (3-0, 1-0 Ski Valley) return to action Friday, Dec. 11 when they host Forest Area for a conference game.

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Photo Courtesy of Gaylord Herald Times

Showerman's 36 points help Cardinals in comeback win against Red Devils
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

EAST JORDAN — Perseverance was key for the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team Friday at East Jordan.

The Cardinals overcame an early deficit to defeat the host Red Devils 64-37 in non conference play, relying on senior Madison Showerman's 36 points as well as their improved defense in the second half.

"They really kept their composure tonight," said J-L coach Heather Huff, whose squad is 2-0. "They kept pushing and playing harder on defense."

East Jordan opened action with an 8-0 run, taking advantage of two fouls from Showerman in the first quarter. But J-L regrouped, used its full-court press and went on a 12-0 run to finish the period.

"Our press started working, and we got good transition baskets," Huff said. "Maddy had foul trouble in the first but still had eight points."

J-L improved its offense in the quarter as well.

"They worked the ball more," Huff said. "At first, their passes were sloppy, and then they tightened up. Their shots were a little off, but they kept fighting throughout the game."

The Cardinals increased their lead in the second after senior Kelsey Cherwinski and junior Claire Huber each knocked down a 3-pointer, and Showerman found success scoring down low.

J-L senior Kate Heidman picked up her third foul, but her team still led 31-17 at halftime.

"We got into a little bit of foul trouble, but the girls got smart and played through it," Huff said.

East Jordan trimmed its deficit in the third quarter, but J-L carried a 44-35 lead into the final eight minutes.

"They (East Jordan) took advantage of their length," Huff said. "They were tall, and they got some pick and rolls. But we stopped that from happening."

Showerman finished 16-24 from the field. She pulled down 12 rebounds and had four steals.

Also for the Cardinals, Cherwinski scored nine points and had five steals and five assists, and Sarah Korff and Haley McVannel each grabbed six rebounds.

"Maddy had some inside shots at the beginning that didn't fall," Huff said. "But she settled in and had most of her points on her inside game."

The Cardinals (2-0) open Ski Valley play Thursday, Dec. 10 when they host Mancelona.

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Photo Courtesy of Gaylord Herald Times

Inside Job: Showerman's 30 points near basket help Cardinals thwart comeback
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

FAIRVIEW — Ask any NFL coach and they'll likely agree there's no such thing as a prevent defense because such a defense rarely works.

The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team learned in its season opener Tuesday there's no such thing as a prevent offense.

Although the Cardinals topped host Fairview 59-44 in non conference play, relying on senior Madison Showerman's 30 points and 18 rebounds, they slowed down their offense late against the Eagles and nearly allowed a comeback.

"We lost our heads a little bit," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We thought we could slow it down and take good shots. But we started playing timid, and they (Fairview) got steals that they weren't getting all night.

"We played not to lose instead of to win, and they got back in it. But we called time out and had some good discussions. They got back in there."

The Eagles trimmed their deficit to within nine points before J-L's timeout. Then Kelsey Cherwinski sank a 3-pointer that rekindled her team's offense and helped the Cardinals capture another double-digit lead.

"In the fourth quarter, they made a run at us," Huff said. "But we hit a couple (shots) right in a row to get it back over the 10-point margin and pulled away from there. It was a little bit of a back-and-forth game, but I wasn't worried we would lose."

J-L started the night better than it finished it.

The Cardinals ended the first quarter with a 16-8 advantage after they found success shooting from outside. Kate Heidman sank a pair of 3-pointers while Haley McVannel and Cherwinski each made a 3.

"Kate Heidman did a good job early on," Huff said. "(Our shooting) got us going in the first quarter."

Fairview limited Showerman to only four points in the first, but the senior found offensive success in the second and third periods.

In the second, Showerman scored a few inside shots, and Heidman and Cherwinski each made a 3-pointer that gave J-L a 30-21 halftime lead.

Showerman scored eight field goals and was 4-for-6 from the foul line in the third quarter, helping J-L grab a 47-32 lead in the third quarter.

"We pounded it into Maddy in the third quarter," Huff said.

Showerman finished 10-for-18 from the field and was 10-for-12 shooting free throws.

Cherwinski scored 12 points and had three 3s while Heidman was 3-for-4 shooting from downtown. Cherwinski and Heidman each tallied six assists.

Also for the Cardinals, McVannel grabbed five rebounds, and Sarah Korff contributed three rebounds and two assists.

Despite the convincing win, Huff said her team struggled to defend Fairview's outside shooters.

She hopes the Cardinals (1-0) do a better job defending beyond the 3-point line when they visit East Jordan for a non conference
game Friday, Dec. 4.

"They hit a bank shot 3-pointer before halftime that didn't help us," Huff said. "They had some good outside shooters, too.

"They're not somebody you should look past. They played well and had good shooters."

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Half-Court Hopes: Cardinals hope offensive sets complement their transition game
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor

GAYLORD — While the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball team's roster might look similar to last season's, the way it scores points will look much, much different.

The Cardinals, which were 18-3 a year ago, relied on their transition offense to capture quick leads and pull away on the scoreboard against inferior opponents.

J-L still wants to score in transition this season, but it has put more of an emphasis on having a successful half-court offense — something it has sometimes struggled with against strong teams such as Traverse City St. Francis, Bellaire and St. Mary in the past.

"We're going to mix it up between our run-and-gun offense and setting it up to be patient offensively," said J-L coach Heather Huff following her team's scrimmage Wednesday against Gaylord in Jim Mongeau Gymnasium. "We've struggled to be patient offensively because that hasn't been our thing.

"We're usually run and gun. We don't have (10 players) that can do that, so we have to be able to mix it up and know when to slow it up or be more patient. That's a change for us."

Fortunately for Huff, the Cardinals return All-State players in Madison Shower and sharpshooter Kelsey Cherwinski.

For Showerman, who is one of the area's best players as a senior, this season is an important one as the Cardinals' best player and leading scorer.

"I expect Maddy to step up and have a big year," Huff said. "I know there are some good players out there, too. St. Mary has the obvious (Bekah Myler), but Maddy should be one of the best players.

"She's taking charge more. She wants to get to the basket more. She's looking to push it and looking for her shot and not always being the passer. She's a good passer, but I told her this year I want her to be more selfish. She worries about being a ball hog."

With a scoring title in sight, Showerman just might play as selfish as Huff wants her to play this season.

"I'm hoping to reach my 1,000 points, and I need 200 more," Showerman said. "Last year, I had 395 points. I'm hoping to get that early in the season or at the halfway point.

"I want to average more points and rebounds per game this year. The rebounds aren't for a record, but I want to average more of those. I also want to beat Mrs. Huff's record for (points)."

While the Cardinals return plenty of talented players, it'll be tough for them to replace former starters Mady Ewing and Emily Aisthorpe.

Ewing was J-L's best ball handler last season and a consistent scorer near the basket with her signature 4- to 6-foot jump shot. Sarah Korff and Kate Heidman are expected to step up and take over where Ewing left off a year ago.

Aisthorpe, on the other hand, will be hard to replace because of her size and power under the hoop. She also used her toughness to grab rebounds and draw fouls as a power forward. Junior Taylor Kroll comes up from the junior varsity in hopes of replicating Aisthorpe's toughness this season while Tiffany McDonald, Claire Huber and Haley McVannel each could help fight for rebounds as well.

"She's (Ewing) actually playing at Trine (University) right now," Showerman said. "She's going to be hard to replace, but Kate Heidman has a lot of speed that Mady had, too. I think we can handle ourselves without her, but she was a big asset.

"We have Taylor Kroll, and she's our big post player. Emily really came on for us, and it'll be hard to replace her."

Added Huff: "Taylor is stepping up and filling (Aisthorpe's role) and doing a good job of that, and so is Tiffany."

Should Kroll and McDonald battle well inside, it could give Showerman scoring opportunities and mismatches down low.

"We've really been working hard on having an outside game and an inside game," Huff said. "We're playing with it, and it's been kind of fun putting Maddy inside to work with Taylor. It's a work in progress, and we'll still have her outside game."

McKenzie Sides, Sam Morehouse and Faith Bartle round out J-L's roster, adding to a deep team that's focused on competing for a Ski Valley title and district championship this season.

The Cardinals open their season Tuesday, Dec. 1 when they visit Fairview for a non conference game.

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Photo Courtesy of Gaylord Herald Times
2015-16 VARSITY GIRLS BASKETBALL
ROSTER

xxNUMBER
NAME
GRADE
3
Sarah Korff
12
4
Tiffany McDonald
12
14
Sam Morehouse
12
20
Haley McVannel
11
22
Kelsey Cherwinski
12
23
Madison Showerman
12
24
Makenzie Sides
11
30
Claire Huber
11
32
Faith Bartle
12
44
Kate Heidman
12
45
Kaitlyn Huff
11
55
Taylor Kroll
11

a
Coach: Heather Huff


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A
2015-16 JUNIOR VARSITY GIRLS BASKETBALL
ROSTER

xxNUMBER
NAME
GRADE
3
Brooke McKenney
10
4
Alyssa Bartle
10
10
Alicia Korff
10
14
Deanna Miller
10
20
Hannah Collins
10
24
Destiny Sherbonda
10
30
Jersey Layman
9
33
Anna Smith
9
34
Torrie Crandall
10
42
Grace Boden
9
54
Ali Loren
9
55
Breanna Finnerty
9

a
Coach: Brett McVannel


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J-L Sporting Event Ticket Prices

Adults ~ $5.00
Students ~ $3.00
Family ~$12.00

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2013-14
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Updated 8/21/16