Adrian Lenawee Christian’s Salenbien Division 4 top player
ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) — Bree Salenbien wasn’t entirely happy with her game in the Division 4 state finals. All she did was score 17 points, pull down 13 rebounds, dish out six assists, block a shot and grab a steal as her Adrian Lenawee Christian Cougars repeated as the state champions.
“I was really happy for my teammates,” said the 6-foot-2 sophomore. “I was a little upset with my performance, but we won the game and that’s all that matters.”
Salenbien had no reason to be upset with the game or season for the Cougars. She finished the season averaging 23 points and 9.2 rebounds a game, blocked 95 shots and had 85 assists. Besides leading her team to a second straight state championship, she also has repeated as The Associated Press Player of the Year for Division 4 in girls basketball.
“She’s wired a little bit different,” said Lenawee Christian head coach, and her father, Jamie Salenbien. “She embraces the big moments. She doesn’t get frazzled. She definitely has that mental edge.”
Salenbien was clutch all season despite being the focal point of most defenses. She shot nearly 50 percent from the floor, made 47 3-pointers and was an 80 percent free throw shooter, making 154 of 192 free throws. Through two varsity seasons, she has scored 1,213 points.
“Her biggest improvement this year came in her decision-making,” her father said. “She cut her turnovers in half. She’s improved defensively, too. She’s constantly learning more about the game. Her basketball I.Q. continues to grow.”
Salenbien has 10 Division 1 offers, including from Michigan, Michigan State, the University of Toledo and Indiana University. The recruiters have called often, but she said she doesn’t let it become a distraction to just going out and playing.
“It’s not overwhelming,” she said. “It’s really fun to be a part of. I like it.”
Salenbien has some company on the All-State team. Her sister, Dani Salenbien, also made the first team. The junior is the Cougar floor general, averaged 14.1 points a game and had more than 100 assists. In the state finals, Dani led Lenawee Christian in scoring with 19 points.
The sisters are joined on the first team by seniors Taylor Fleming of Rogers City, Daelyn Merillat of Morenci, Scout Nelson of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy, Rachel Bause of Novi Christian Academy, Emily Coveyou of St. Ignace LaSalle, Gabby Costello of Bellevue and Jaden Berthume of Coleman. Junior Kelsey Richards of Fruitport Calvary Christian also made the squad that was selected recently by a statewide panel of 11 sports writers.
The all-state group had some great numbers.
Merillat finished as Morenci’s all-time leading scorer with 1,579 career points. Fleming averaged 19.8 points and 18.7 rebounds a game. Bause averaged 17 rebounds a game. Coveyou averaged a double-double while getting St. Ignace into the state finals. Costello set all sorts of school records and averaged more than seven assists and six steals a game. Richards scored more than 20 points a game. Berthume is the first Coleman boy or girl to break 1,000 career points. Nelson led her team to 90 wins in four years and scored 1,377 career points and West is another 1,000-point scorer.
Fowler’s Nathan Goerge was named the Division 4 Coach of the Year. Fowler finished fourth in its conference but advanced to the state semifinals before bowing out to Lenawee Christian.