Wayne, MI - Although the bitter cold and snow were absent from the 2019 Motor City Winter Classic, the jumpers, smooth finishes, and chest bumps were not. With nearly 30 teams in attendance, this Saturday at the Hype Athletic Center in Wayne, Michigan; parents, fans, and evaluators saw an amazing start of the middle school basketball season for 2019. With a range of fourth graders all the way up to eighth grade, several young ladies showed that they had been in the gym in the offseason for sure. Here are a few that caught my eye.
2026 Maiah Sain 5’3” PG West Michigan Drive
With hundreds of players coming through the doors for the Motor City Classic, Mariah Sain stood out as one of the most energetic players in the gym. Her high motor translated to immediate buckets! She finished with an array of moves in the paint after repeatedly beating multiple defenders off the dribble. This young player was so explosive, and lightning fast in transition, that is was simply a matter of whether or not she would make the layup because catching her wasn’t an option. Sain’s defensive prowess in the open court was sensational as she played the point of her team's full court press. This ultra competitive standout will continue to lead her team to future victories.
2023 Mady Weber 6’0” SF Michigan Basketball Academy
Watching Mady from the first tip to her last championship game on Saturday night, one thing was certain-she got stronger as the day went on. Her consistent improvement was evident in her final game as she showed how effective her footwork was on the inside with deadly up and under moves as well as her attacking mentality was from the high post area. She maintained her toughness and grit throughout the game as she pounded the boards on both ends. Weber gave her team the inside presence they needed to take home the championship at the Motor City Winter Classic.
2024 Reese Polega 5’8” G West Michigan Drive
This combo guard is the very epitome of a blue collared player. Her hard-nosed style of play came to life as she dove for loose balls, closed out to shooters quick for deflections and ran the floor with reckless abandon at times. Polega seemed to do all the little things necessary to boost her team's chances for a win. She worked tirelessly in the middle of the press breaker, flashing and cutting, as well as handled the ball calmly under pressure. Reese also had the lofty responsibility of needing to score the ball for her team in which she did every way conceivable. This all-around player should stay on the scene for some time.
2025 Kira Reynolds 6’0” PG Michigan Crossover
Kira…Kira…Kira! Buy your tickets in advance! This powerhouse young player is an absolute matchup nightmare for coaches everywhere. If you haven’t had the privilege of watching a 2025 Michigan Crossover game with Reynolds at the helm, then let me fill you in a bit. She stands at a formidable height of 6 feet tall with ball-handling abilities that rival top point guards, length that stuffs the block column, court vision coupled with any type of pass you need, not to mention the ability to get at least 20 points in any given game-oh and might I mention she does this with multiple defenders sacrificing their bodies at all cost to stop her? Reynolds and her team ran through some top-notch programs this weekend taking home the Motor City Classic Championship. Like I said, buy your tickets NOW!
2024 Anya Billups 5’8” SG Top Ten Bad Girls
Anya Billups can go! She has the versatility of a swiss army knife on defense and offense. With track star like speed, Billups ran the floor hard. Her quickness allowed her to get involved in a number of loose ball situations that put her in position to get her team some easy shots. Billups has a chance to develop into an impact player on both ends of the court.
2024 McKenzie Swanson 6’0” SF Michigan Crossover
Look up “upside” in the dictionary, and I’m sure you will find a picture of McKenzie Swanson. Seemingly every game, she pulled back a layer to her vast arsenal weapons. She knocked down the 15-18 foot jump shot consistently. Then, she would grab defensive rebounds and lead the break. And just when you got used to her guarding bigs in the paint, you’d find her defending on the perimeter just as well. Swanson jumps very well, and combine that with the fact that she is already over 6 feet tall, then you have a real PROBLEM!
2023 Layne Sleight 5’6” PG Michigan Mystics
A program that wants to compete at a high level has to have solid guard play. The Michigan Mystics have just that in PG Layne Sleight. She uses her change of speed off hard dribbles to turn defenders and get to the basket. Sleight showed the ability to handle the ball with poise versus the daunting pressure of a tough Michigan Crossover team. Finishing at the basket one minute, and lining up a catch and shoot three the next, Sleight kept her team within striking distance before the game slipped away in its final minutes.
2023 Alexis Boyke 5’11” PF Michigan Mystics
Alexis Boyke was big-time in the Michigan Mystic’s semi-final loss to Michigan Crossover. She was able to control the boards and the block. Boyke used her body and low post skill to dominate for multiple stretches of the game. One could argue Boyke was the most skilled low-post threat in the gym as she uses drop-steps and up-and-under to score emphatically around the rim. Coming off a great showing at the LBI Rising Stars Showcase last week, Boyke continues to distinguish herself from this year's crop of 8th graders.
2025 Nyah Mullin 5'6" SF Glass City Fury
Nyah Mullin is one tough little basketball player. On the 6th grade level, no one displayed the ability to make shots from 2-3 steps beyond the arc as she did. In the 1st game of the day, Mullin was so good that she had her team positioned to beat the eventual champions with a long-range three within the final 2 minutes of the game. The word clutch comes to mind. She was aware of the time and score, and it affected her decision making down the stretch. A sure sign of a high IQ basketball player. The Glass City Fury has a leader and terrific basketball player on their hands.