MESICK — Three out of four ain't bad. Unless you take it farther.

That's what Gaylord St. Mary hopes to do after winning the senior class' third regional title in four years.

Each of the last two quarterfinal berths resulted in heartbreak, so this year's team has its sights set higher.

The Snowbirds cruised past Mio 50-22 in Wednesday's Division 4 girls basketball regional final at Mesick to embrace that chance.

"We're really excited to go back," St. Mary senior guard Livee Jeffers said. "We really want to push through and make it past quarters and set a tone for St. Mary."

The Snowbirds (22-2) face Fowler (16-7) in Tuesday's 7 p.m. quarterfinal at Cadillac. Fowler advanced by beating Saginaw Lutheran (17-6) 49-29.

Mio led once — 2-0 on a Reagan McGregor putback 25 seconds into the game. That lead lasted all of 26 seconds.

Jeffers hit a bucket to tie it up, and the Snowbirds were off to the races as their full-court pressure defense wore at the bigger Thunderbolts and created a 23-6 lead by the first quarter's end.

"Their full-court press is ... man, they had a lot of turnovers," Mio head coach Christina Tappan said.

Mio outrebounded St. Mary 34-21, but committing 24 turnovers negated the Thunderbolts' advantage on the boards.

Mio defused Bellaire's press in Monday's narrow 33-31 victory, but no such luck existed against St. Mary.

"They're a lot faster," Tappan said. "We just couldn't get it up court or break through."

Mio (12-11) entered the postseason with a sub-.500 record (9-10), but came into the game on a four-game win streak and winners of seven of the last eight. Three of those seven wins came against teams with 12 or more victories, including Monday over the 17-6 Eagles.

St. Mary led 35-16 by halftime, as Jeffers racked up 11 points, nine of those in the first quarter. She ended up with 18 points, four assists and four steals.

Emma Jo Cherwinski added 12 points and four rebounds, Megan Grusczynski contributed eight points, five assists and three steals, while Megan Loffer put up five points and three rebounds while guarding McGregor, Mio's 6-foot sophomore.

"When they came out and started the game in man, I had a good feeling," St. Mary head coach Pat Schultz said. "I didn't think they could stay on us."

When the Thunderbolts switched to zone, the Snowbirds just started hitting from downtown, with Cherwinski burying several corner 3-pointers.

Cherwinski's first triple put St. Mary up 13-3 and her second put the Snowbirds in a commanding 20-5 lead late in the first quarter.

"When they were falling for her," Schultz said, "I knew it was going to be a good night."

Mio didn't reach double figures until Phynix Rickett's 3-pointer with 3:13 left before halftime.

Claudia Wilson led Mio with seven points, and McGregor and Lauren Kuffel added five each.

Jeffers stayed out of foul trouble, ending the game with three fouls. She saw limited minutes in Monday's 50-39 win over Buckley, and younger sister Kinzie Jeffers came on to lead the Snowbirds to victory.

"I just knew I needed to stop fouling," Livee Jeffers said, "so I could be in the game and not make my sister do all the work."

St. Mary ran only one set piece Wednesday, with Livee Jeffers leading the Snowbirds' motion offense attack. GSM used back screens among other tricks to dull Mio's height advantage.

"We need to keep her on the floor," Schultz said of Jeffers. "She's the de facto leader on the floor. When she's sitting, we're not a better team."

Gaylord St. Mary has won 11 straight heading into Tuesday's quarterfinal, looking to avenge last year's ouster by eventual state runner-up Chassell. The Snowbirds fell 27-26 to runner-up Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the 2015-16 season, when this year's senior class were freshmen.

"The school," Schultz said, "is being represented very well by these girls."


Ishpeming Westwood 47

Charlevoix 29

Charlevoix (19-3): Elise Stuck 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists; Abby Cunningham 4 rebounds; Addie Nagel 5 rebounds, 3 points; Lilly Crusiv 3 points.

Cadillac 55

Menominee 51

Vikings capture regional crown, move on to quarterfinals

Cadillac: No Stats reported.

Senior sports writer