There was a high quality to the girls basketball played in the area this winter.
Part of that was confirmed today when two area players and a coach were named to the Associated Press Class C all-state basketball team.
Carson City-Crystal coach Larry Farmer earned an honorable mention for coaching. He was one of eight coaches to earn any honor in Class C.
Rod Wells of Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Academy was named coach of the year.
Carson City-Crystal sophomore Mikayla Duflo earned a special mention (nominees receiving two or more votes from a 10-member panel) and Montabella junior Taylor Smith earned an honorable mention (nominees receiving one or no votes from a 10-member panel).
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett senior Haleigh Ristovski was named player of the year.
Farmer — special mention in 2012 — coached his team to a second straight conference title, second straight district title and a school record 20 wins against just three losses this past season.
The Eagles’ season ended 37-35 in the regional semifinals to Grandville Calvin Christian on a last second shot. Calvin Christian lost in the regional finals 49-46 to Delton Kellogg, who lost to Saginaw Nouvel in the quarterfinals. Carson City defeated Nouvel during the regular season.
“Usually, when you get a coaching honor it’s because your team has done really well,” Farmer said. “I think it’s more of a team award. I always like to see it because, not just one player, but everyone has done well.”
Farmer also said a good team typically features really good players. And Duflo is one of the best.
“As typical, when your team does well you have some really good players,” Farmer said. “I think Mikayla is one of the best in the state. The reason we are good is she has other really good players with her.”
Duflo averaged 12.5 points, 2.7 steals and 2.1 assists per game. She drained a school record 68 three-pointers this season, which is good for a tie for 16th all-time in a single season in Michigan girls basketball history.
“She is an outstanding player on a good team. She is unselfish, she doesn’t force anything and takes what the defense gives her,” Farmer said. “This year our team had five good players you had to contend with. If you took one away, then someone else would step up.”
Duflo will compete in a three-point shootout contest this weekend at the Breslin Center in East Lansing as part of the MHSAA state semifinals and finals weekend. She was selected by basketball coaches to participate.
Smith helped lead her team to a 10-8 overall record. The Mustangs lost in the district tournament to defending Class C state champion Morley Stanwood.
“She was phenomenal for us this year. Playing the point guard position, she not only set up the play, but she led us in rebounding and was second in scoring,” Montabella coach Terry Larsen said. “She did a great job. She can do it all and thankfully, I have her for another year.”
Smith averaged 13.2 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.3 steals per game.
Just a junior, Larsen is expecting her to continue her basketball improvement.
“I think, hopefully, she will improve on her scoring and can push that a little higher,” Larsen said. “She is working on a number of different things to do that and I hope she continues to get better on defense. She is definitely a multi talented player in basketball.”
Smith scored double figures in all but three games this season. She had a triple-double on Feb. 5 against Farwell with 12 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Associated Press Class C girls basketball All-State team, as selected by a panel of 10 Michigan sports writers:
Haleigh Ristovski, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 5-10, Sr., Player of the Year
Sydney Czurak, Shelby, 6-1, Sr.
Taylor Hengesbach, Saginaw Nouvel, 5-9, Sr.
Jenna Hirsch, Marlette, 5-7, Sr.
Jackie Oestrich, Ann Arbor Greenhills, 6-2, Sr.
Jacqueline Simpson, Burton Bendle, 6-0, Sr.
Karina Cole, Lincoln Alcona, 5-10, Jr.
Karli Herrington, Hemlock, 6-2, Jr.
Reyna Frost, Reese, 6-0, So.
Meredith Hamlet, McBain, 5-8, So.
Zakiya Wells, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 5-6, So.
Nastassja Chambers, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 5-9, Fr.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Rod Wells, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Academy
SPECIAL MENTION (nominees receiving two or more votes from the 10-member panel)
Mikayla Duflo, Carson City-Crystal; McKenna Erkfritz, Manchester; Claire Denecker, Blissfield; Sydnee McDonald, Flint Hamady; Elisa Jurmu, Houghton
Josh Hood, Niles Brandywine; Dennis Gruber, Reese
HONORABLE MENTION (nominees receiving one or no votes from the 10-member panel)
Becca Scherting, Saginaw Valley Lutheran; Nicole Winter, Watervliet; Scotlyn Brengman, Maple City Glen Lake; Jamie Justin, Leroy Pine River; Cambria Handy, Britton Deerfield; Gabrielle Herriman, Sand Creek; Rachel Bruinsma, Western Michigan Christian; Markela Snipes, Mount Clemens; Megan Redman, Concord; Jalisha Terry, Flint Hamady; Liza Erickson, Traverse City St. Francis; Jade Madison, New Buffalo; Kaitelyn Smith, Hartford; Michaela DeKilder, Gobles; Drew Findlay, Reese; Rachel McInerney, Saginaw Nouvel; Sam Shafer, Saginaw Valley Lutheran; Kayla Deering, Pigeon Laker; Taylor Smith, Edmore Montabella; Aleah Holcomb, Kent City
Kris Hengesbach, Saginaw Nouvel; Liane Steller, Burton Bendle; Larry Farmer, Carson City-Crystal; Omar Ahart, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett; Scott Carlson, Kent City