EAST LANSING — Anna Richards remembers being at Ford Field watching older brother Jonah experience winning state championships with the Lansing Catholic football program in 2019 and 2021.
Those moments were inspiring to Anna and twin sister Leah Richards.
“We thought that it would be cool too to win one together,” Leah Richards said.
The junior standouts got their chance Saturday. And they capitalized to join their brother as state champions.
Anna and Leah Richards helped Lansing Catholic girls basketball claim the Division 2 state title Saturday with a 43-29 win over No. 8-ranked Frankenmuth. They helped the No. 9-ranked Cougars win their first girls basketball state championship since 1995 and just the second in program history.
“(Jonah has) got two, we’ve got one and we’ve got a chance next year to get another,” said Anna, who had 14 points Saturday. “He’s really proud of us and I think just having that brother who won two — obviously we’ve always wanted to win one, but that also puts a little more fire in us to want to win.”
Anna and Leah were key in helping the Cougars (24-5) become state champions. They were the team’s top scorers this season and delivered on the biggest stage. Anna averaged 19.5 points during the weekend games at Breslin Center as Lansing Catholic beat top-ranked Grand Rapids West Catholic in the semifinal and then Frankenmuth. Leah averaged 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, which included scoring a game-high 16 and adding nine rebounds in the title-clinching win.
“The fact that we get them for a whole another year — it just blows my mind because these kids work every day,” Lansing Catholic coach Kacee Reid said. “They work seven days a week on their game. On Sundays they are working out and six days a week for practice.”
More:State champions: Lansing Catholic girls basketball takes top spot in Division 2 with win over Frankenmuth
The competitiveness and desire the twins had to become state champions like their brother was big for the Cougars. They played a role as Lansing Catholic knocked off several teams considered to be among the state’s best like Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in the regular season and then No. 6 Haslett, No. 3 Chelsea, Redford Westfield Prep, Grand Rapids West Catholic and Frankenmuth in the state tourney.
“Both of them — they’re just competitive and they want to win, but they also do it the right way,” Reid said. “They don’t want to take it on themselves. They understand that it’s a team effort and that’s what’s going to get it done.”
When needed to step up, the duo made winning plays for Lansing Catholic. Anna and Leah combined to make 21 of 23 free throws, primarily in the fourth quarter, to help the Cougars beat West Catholic in the state semifinal. In the final, Leah provided key baskets early in the fourth quarter with Lansing Catholic in a five-minute-plus scoring drought that allowed Frankenmuth to draw close. She hit a 3 early in the fourth followed by another basket that was key for the Cougars.
“I feel like it gave us some confidence knowing that we’re still up so we can just relax and just take a deep breath,” Leah said.
With one championship captured , the Cougars will try to go back-to-back next season. The Richards twins are among a large cast of key contributors slated to be return as Lansing Catholic chases a repeat.
“I think just seeing that we can win one, I think next year we’re going to have a lot of fire to want to win one again.” Anna said. “It’s going to be my senior season and we really want to make it as far as we can.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
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