December 16, 1978
Seven points down, and with 47 seconds on the clock, the Lancers were sure they would be walking away with a second-place trophy.
For the past three years, the L’Anse Creuse High School girls basketball team had lost in districts to the eventual state champions. This year, they made it all the way to the state finals at Jenison Fieldhouse, and it was looking like history would repeat itself in their game against Flint’s Beecher High School.
But a few strategic passes, layups and free throws later, the game was tied at 51-51. A foul granted the Beecher team a free throw — which they missed.
As the game climbed into overtime, the score continued in a virtual tie. Then with 37 seconds left, Tammy Brehen took the lead with a successful layup. Beecher scored another point, but Ann DeLodder scored a layup to cinch the victory with 16 seconds to spare.
The team who had come up just short for the past few years was now the state champions.
“It felt fantastic,” recalled Coach Mary Knechtges. “It was finally our turn.”
December 13, 2018
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of their thrilling victory, the 1978 State Champions reunited during a home game at their alma mater. Eight team members, as well as assistant coach Sandy Brown, attended the game and met with current JV and Varsity girls basketball players.
However, it wasn’t a reunion so much as a regular occurrence for the tight-knit team.
“We have remained close throughout the years,” said Knechtges. She has attended her players’ college graduations and weddings, taught and coached their children, and lent her support during their parents’ funerals. Many of the team members meet monthly for dinner, and even those who have moved out of state stay connected to the others.
The same sense of collaboration and teamwork that won the Lancers the state championship has also kept them close throughout the decades.
“We are family.”
L’Anse Creuse High School is located in Harrison Township.