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LBI Event Recap: Battle In the Mitten (Grand Rapids, MI)

By R.Simone @R.SimoneP & Keith Wade @wadesworld32, 04/10/23, 8:00AM EDT


Byron, MI – It’s that time of year again. Yes, spring travel ball has arrived, and teams from all over the state kicked their season off on Saturday at the Battle in the Mitten event. Lady Ballers from 6th – 11th grade stepped on the court, looking to work out some early season kinks and pick up a few wins along the way. The 2027 and 2028 classes were the talk of the gym. The concept of “we got next” were not on these young ballers’ mind. It felt more like, “we got right now.” I love it!

Sydney Black 2027 | Michigan Quest-Hutson
One of the hardest working players in the gym, Sydney played every game with passion and tenacity. She went full throttle every possession and was an energy pack for her team. She found ways to score and always stepped up when her team needed game-changing plays. She is a solid defender, able to be aggressive and not accumulate a bunch of fouls. She also was great at playing the lanes on defense and getting steals. Her upside is high and endless…she’s fearless.

Natalia Hawks 2027 | Michigan Quest-Hutson
Natalia is a smart guard that sees the court and makes good decisions with the ball. She was great at running the court in transition, filling the lanes, and making herself available for easy buckets. She also did a good job with her on ball defense. She’s got quick hands with the foot speed to match.   

Mia McGregor 2027 | Michigan Storm UAA 2025
One of the toughest kids I saw all weekend, Mia has the muscle to match her game. She has a great feel for the game, able to read the court and make solid basketball plays. She can impact the game in multiple ways in addition to scoring. She’s a floor leader with a high IQ and a high tolerance for contact. She took just as much as she gave, and none of it slowed her down.

Tayla Dillard 2024 | UTS Elite 2024
Tayla is a versatile player that can play multiple positions. She’s aggressive and a quick thinker, never shying away from physical play. She crashes the boards, attacks the rim, and has a sweet floater in the paint that defenders could not stop. She uses a long wingspan to disrupt plays and get easy buckets. She plays with a lot of heart and energy.

Ma’Raeyah Smith 2027 | Michigan Mystics Black
A hard-working player that was a floor general for her team, Ma’Raeyah was a key component to her team’s success. She is smart on both ends of the court; she made great plays for herself and her teammates. She is tough. Whether playing hard nose in your face defense or taking a hit going to the hoop, Ma’Raeyah showed no fear. She’s a game-changer. When the game got tough, or her team needed a spark, Ma’Raeyah always took on the challenge and helped her team get the victory.

Kassidy Cain 2028 |  Queens  
Kassidy is a gritty floor leader with an IQ higher than many high school players. She handles the ball well under pressure, heads up, seeing the floor, eyes on the rim, and advancing the ball. Her defense was smothering. She is tough with the speed to match, which made her a nuisance (in a good way) defensively. She often converted the turnovers she helped to create into instant offense. Her motor is high, and she plays hard.

Lexi Stillman 2025 | Always 100 Stars 2025
Lexi is a versatile player with a long reach, enabling her to assist in the paint and perimeter. Her high and consistent shot allows her to shoot over her opponents easily. She can knock down that nice shot off the bounce or a pick. She crashes the boards, battling inside for easy buckets and rebounds. She hustles every possession.

Caroline Reinke 2027 | Michigan Mystics Black
Being a good defender is very purposeful, and most strong players have a lot of heart and play extremely hard. Caroline proves all of those theories to be true. She is relentless. She has no off button. When she wasn’t in the game, the energy shifted. She can score and did a good job of making sure she got her teammates involved. Even when her team had the lead, Caroline played as though they were down by 1. She’s tough. 

Sarrinah Ajami 2024 | Michigan Anarchy 2024
Sarrinah’s ability to dominate the boards and get second chance points with 2-3 opponents surrounding and bumping her was beyond impressive. Once she was planted and boxed out, it was a wrap. Whatever was coming off the rim belonged to her. She ran the court well and did a great job moving without the ball and opening up for easy passes from her teammates. Her presence was undeniable.

Rayah Hitt 2025 | Michigan Drive Premier 2025 E40-Willis
A solid player that is a great communicator, Rayah was effective and consistent. She sees the court and dropped some beautiful passes to her teammates in both transition and the half-court set. Her shot selection was impressive, never forcing anything but not afraid to take tough shots, including long range three pointers. Her help defense was top notch, forcing turnovers and even altering shots. Rayah has a lot of potential and I have a feeling this travel season, she is going to leave a lasting impression.

Madison Repicky 2028| Michigan Mystics 2028
Madison is a very smooth guard with a nice handle, good vision, and the ability to beat her defender off the bounce. She shoots the jumper with good range and big-time confidence. Her future is very bright! 

Paisley Stephens 2028 | Michigan Crossover 2028 
Paisley is TOUGH, she has the rock on a string, but she doesn’t waste time with wasted movement. She is deceptively quick and, at a young age, has the mindset to attack downhill and get buckets. High School coaches will be lining up to get this young lady!! 

Jamiyah Parahams 2025| Always 100 Showtime Guard 2025
Jamiyah is a guard with great size who plays with a smooth flow to her game. She scores the ball in many ways on the floor, scoring off the bounce or in the flow of the offense. She had one of the best moves of the day with a killer between the legs crossover and finished at the hoop.  Young Girl is smooth! 

Autumn Pernell 2025 | Michigan Anarchy 
Autumn started slow, but when she kicked it into gear, she showed that she was one of the best players on the floor. She was aggressive in attacking the basket and showed a great ability to finish with both hands. She took great pride in locking up on defense which will bode well for her playing for Arbor Prep next season! 

Aniyah Hardy 2024 | Michigan Storm 17U GUAA 
From what I saw, Aniyah is the most improved player, hands down, from last summer until now, and she looked to get even better as the day went on. Aniyah showed a great ability to catch the rock, finish in traffic, run the floor and cause havoc on defense to anyone driving her lane. She moved well, demanded the ball, and showed good footwork in the paint. Look for a huge spring-summer for Ms. Hardy this year!!

Emma Steele 2024 | UTS 
Emma is a very high IQ guard with a nice handle, a smooth jump shot, and a tough no back down demeanor on both ends of the floor. She plays aggressively and does a good job getting to her spots to make plays for her and her teammates. 

Moriah Sain 2026 | Michigan Crossover 16U EYBL
Moriah didn’t waste time at all, showing how much she improved since last summer, she was in attack mode all day, and the super athletic guard spent the day finished in transition, in the paint, and knocking down the pull-up J.  Moriah is easily one of the most athletic guards in the state. She has no problem displaying it on both ends of the floor. I love watching her play her energy is unmatched! 

Kayla Hairston 2026 | Michigan Storm 15U GUAA
Kayla is a tough as nails guard who ran the show for her 3-0 Storm squad. She beat her defender off the bounce whenever she wanted, creating for her or a teammate. She did a great job of knowing when to score and when to dish. In a tough Overtime win over the Crossover, she took matters into her own hands attacking the basket for two points on a nice baseline drive to win the game. 

McKinsley Berlin 2026 | Michigan Storm 15U GUAA
A young interior player usually gets a lot of cardio in AAU running up and down and watching the guards shoot, but not McKinsley. She did a great job all day calling for the ball, catching it in the low and high post, and making plays with a nice pass or a nice move to the basket. For a young center, she has very good footwork and body control. The sky is the limit for Ms. Berlin. 

Elliana Robak 2026 | Michigan Crossover  15U EYBL
Elliana was one of my favorite players to watch this weekend. She is a knockdown shooter who also could put it on the floor and create her shot. She is a Very court savvy guard who is a tough defender and plays with a little swag and confidence that I love to see out of a young scorer. 

Secrette Carter 2026 | Michigan Crossover 15U EYBL
Secrette is also on my most improved since last summer list. She showed a lot of control handling the rock, making plays off the bounce, and of course, scoring the rock from all over the floor.  She is easily one of the best players in the 2026 class; look for her to score many points this spring-summer. 

Kate Starkey 2025 | Michigan Drive Premier
Kate is a do it all guard for the Premier; she is good at everything but great at the important things, effort, energy, heart, and desire. Kate can score, she can run the show, she takes pride in her defense, and she finds a way to finish in traffic. Kate plays on one of the best 2025 teams in the state, and you best believe she is a big reason why.