Six Lady Eagle cagers collect All-TVC East honor
Another 20-plus win season meant there were plenty of accolades to go around for the Frankenmuth varsity girls’ basketball team.
The Lady Eagles won their 10th straight Tri-Valley Conference East Division title, won their Class B District No. 58 crown and rolled to a 21-3 overall record, falling twice to Bay City John Glenn.
Along the way to their 14-0 TVC East season, ‘Muth was never really threatened during the league portion of the year. As a result, four cagers earned All-TVC East first-team accords and two collected honorable mention status.
Seniors Brayene Benner, Keri Frahm, Kelsie Kujat and Madison Wiskur were presented with first-team awards and juniors Lindsey Mertz and Hannah Karwat were honorable mention selections.
Benner and Frahm were also selected as Associated Press Class B honorable mention all-state cagers.
Keller held the team’s season-ending banquet over the weekend and recognized all the players, including the players brought up from the junior varsity team.
From the junior varsity team, Courtney Aldrich, Kaylee Kujat and Abby Reinert joined the team for the state tourney run.
“I was glad we were able to bring them up for the tourney for them to get a taste of what the next level looks like,” FHS Coach Tom Keller said. “We’ve got some holes to fill next season and I’m excited about the opportunity these girls have to join our team. “I’m hopeful they get involved this off season and fit right in to what we’ve got going with our returning players.”
Freshman forward Julia King had a disappointing first season as she dealt with a serious knee injury for just about the entire season.
“Julia has a ton of potential, due to her athleticism and her love of the game. She’s going to have to step in and fill some huge shoes next season, as a rebounder and a scorer. Hopefully she listened and picked up on things throughout this season and will be ready to make a huge leap forward and stay healthy,” Keller said.
King scored 11 points, was 5 for 10 from the free throw line and had seven boards.
Junior guard Emily Janson also had a rough start to the season, missing all the preseason and first six games due to a knee injury.
“That’s really hard to overcome, especially when it is your first year on the varsity and you are trying to get things figured out and get accustomed to a quicker game,” Keller pointed out.
Janson’s best game of the season came against Davison, where she made a couple baskets, grabbed a few rebounds 𠇊nd started to look like the player we knew she could be,” the coach added. “We are graduating a great point guard and that is one of the main spots up for grabs that we need someone to step in and take charge. I’m looking forward to seeing Emily compete for that position next season.”
Junior forward Sara Aldrich scored 39 points with a 44-percent field goal rate, 19 boards, nine steals and 11 assists.
“Sara is a very intelligent player, does a good job of seeing the court when she is out there and plays within herself,” Keller said.
Aldrich showed her playing capabilities when she got minutes, scoring eight points against North Branch.
“We are going to have to see that consistency next season as her playing time and expectations get much larger for her senior season,” Keller indicated.
Junior guard Kayla Kueffner scored 88 points, including canning 12 of her 42 three-point attempts, to go with a 14 for 21 performance from the free throw line. She added 24 steals and 24 assists.
“Of our first-year players, she probably had the best year. She started slowly, but developed some confidence,” Keller said.
Kueffner scored a season-high 11 points against Bridgeport (three trey shots), poured in 10 points versus Caro and had eight points against Ithaca, nailing two big three-point shots in the second half when the team struggled to score. The Yellowjackets lost in the MHSAA Class C state semifinal last weekend.
“We’re going to need Kayla to use what she learned this year to have a big year for us next season. She’ll be one of our best shooters and got a lot of valuable experience this season playing in some big-time situations,” Keller said.
Junior forward Hannah Karwat scored 82 points, made 22 of 34 free throws, collected 138 boards and added 55 steals and 47 assists.
“Hannah is an extremely hard worker, constantly going up against girls much taller than her but always finding a way to get the job done. The best thing about Hannah is that she continually wants to get better. She’s never upset when I get on her about something . . . half of the time, she beats me to it – tells me what she did wrong and how to correct is,” Keller explained.
Karwat was third on the team in rebounds, twice in double figures in boards, including 14 caroms against Birch Run. She was third in assists and third in steals – all for a back-up player “who shows how well she understands the game and where she is supposed to be on the floor,” Keller added.
“She is going to have a huge senior year – tremendous leadership, improved scoring and will do whatever it takes to keep what we’ve got going here going,” Keller said.
Junior forward Lindsey Mertz is a third-year varsity player who finished with 126 points, made 20 three-point shots, amassed 110 rebounds and chipped in with 42 steals and 66 assists.
𠇊t last year’s banquet, I said that Lindsey had a much different role this season as a returning player and stepping in for an injured Keri. This year I could say the same thing – adjusted her role to step up in place of an injured Maddie Walter, stepping outside and becoming a better ball handler for us,” Keller recalled.
Mertz averaged six points a game, with two games in double figures at Bridgeport and at Garber. Mertz made the pass in the John Glenn regional game to Frahm who tied the score to send it to overtime.
“Next year, she’s going to be the fourth-year senior leader. We’re going to ask a lot of her in terms of scoring, defending the paint, handling the ball. Fortunately, she’s the kind of kid that I know will be up for the challenge,” the coach said.
Senior guard Shayna Schneider scored 22 points with 19 rebounds and 14 steals.
“With all her injuries and illnesses last season, this really was Shayna’s first full year of varsity ball. She always gave her best effort when she was on the floor . . . which often led to a lot of bumps, scrapes, busted lips, etc.,” Keller stated.
Schneider signed last year to play women’s golf for Ferris State University.
“I know she’s going to be a success, as I got a chance to see her spirit, attitude and commitment to our program and she’ll bring those same crucial components to Ferris’ team next year,” Keller added.
Senior forward Madison Walter saw the end of the season action and scored 31 points – 21 on trey shots.
“Perspective – it’s an interesting idea. You could look at Maddie Walter’s senior basketball season and be depressed, thinking about all that she missed out on with her ACL injury. Or, you could focus on how amazing it was to see a girl battle back to finish the season right where she belongs – on the basketball court,” Keller commented.
Walter checked into her first game of the season in late February at Caro and got a standing ovation. She started her senior season knocking down a three pointer, then made another and finished with eight points.
“The total wasn’t the important part. It was just the fact that she made it back at all that was the memorable part for me,” Keller said.
Walter wraps up her career with three, first-team all-conference selections, was all-state last year as a junior and she finished with 650 career points and 168 career assists with 90 career made three-point shots.
“Who knows, we might see her on the court next season at Hope College – I wouldn’t count her out of anything she puts her mind to,” Keller added.
Senior guard Madison Wiskur scored 146 points, made 24 trey shots, posted 57 steals and 39 assists and was third on the team with eight blocked shots.
“In addition to her scoring, the thing we’ll miss most from Madison is her defense. Even in those games where she didn’t put up a lot of points, she did a great job of creating havoc with the other team’s perimeter players. Her quickness and anticipation allowed her to get a lot of steals over her career and disrupt and deflect countless more passes,” Keller said.
Wiskur ended with 192 career steals as a four-year varsity player.
Senior guard Kelsie Kujat was a third-year varsity player who scored 226 points, made 53 treys, had 46 steals and a team-high 89 assists.
“Kelsie was, really, the perfect point guard this season. What I mean by that is that she provided for our offense whatever we needed to win the game. Kelsie did a great job of getting the ball to those girls in a position to make plays,” Keller said.
Kujat scored a school-record eight three-point shots against Birch Run. She was in double figures 12 other times during the season, including all four of the tournament games. She went from no conference honors last season to first-team this year.
“I was pretty pleased with the way she shut down their (Birch Run) student section as they grew quieter and quieter with every long-distance shot she buried that night,” Keller recalled.
Keri Frahm and Brayene Benner were both starting centers and fourth-year varsity performers.
Frahm scored 274 points, was 52 for 79 at the free throw line, registered 149 boards and 30 blocked shots. She scored in double figures 15 times during the season, with four double-double efforts. For her career – missing her junior year due to injury, she scored 852 career points, 522 rebounds and 132 blocked shots.
“With her and Brayene, we were as difficult of a team to match up with as just about any in the state. Teams tried a lot of different ways to defend our posts and none of them worked very well,” Keller said. “These two girls did a tremendous job of working together, finding each other on the court and enjoying the success that each of them would get in various games. To me, the coolest part was how much they enjoyed each other’s success.”
Frahm’s big games include a 14-point, 14-board performance versus Bullock Creek, scoring 20 points at Ithaca, scoring in double figures versus John Glenn and playing well in both Birch Run contests.
Benner netted 304 points, 189 rebounds,75 steals and 60 blocked shots. She finishes her Lady Eagle career with 722 points, 705 rebounds, 209 steals and 208 blocked shots.
𠇋ray is the epitome of what hard work and investing time into something can accomplish. She went from averaging a few points per game as a freshman and sophomore to averaging13 points and eight boards per game her senior season,” Keller said.
Eight times during the season she was in double figures in rebounding. She scored in double figures 16 times and had four games over 20 points. At Reese, she scored 20 points with 12 rebounds and at Birch Run she scored 13 points with 15 caroms.
𠇋ray had as all-around of a dominant season as just about anyone that I have had the privilege of coaching over the years. All of this and I still don’t think we’ve seen Brayene’s best basketball. As long as she continues to work hard and push herself to keep improving, I think her college career at Ferris (State University) is going to be more successful than what she did here at FHS,” Keller said.
Brayene won the Team MVP Award, Kueffner earned the Most Improved Award and Walter and Frahm won the Coach’s Awards, renamed The Beezers for former player Elizabeth Laux. The awards are for positive attitude and team leadership.