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December 18, 2013

Former Liggett basketball players receive chance to play at D-I level

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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University of Detroit Mercy guard Haleigh Ristovski, center, is pictured guarding her sister, Madison Ristovski, who plays for the University of Michigan. Haleigh and Madison Ristovski played together at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and made it to consecutive Class C state final games.

While receiving the chance to play college basketball may be exciting for any athlete, sharing a similar journey with a sibling could make that opportunity even more special.

Their play at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett gave Haleigh and Madison Ristovski the opportunity to continue their respective careers at the collegiate Division I level, with Haleigh ending up at the University of Detroit Mercy and Madison at the University of Michigan.

Madison is in her sophomore year at Michigan, while Haleigh is a freshman with the Titans.

While teammates at Liggett, The two helped the team make it as far as consecutive Class C state title games.

“I loved playing at Liggett,” Madison Ristovski said. “My favorite part about it was having a chance to play with both my sisters (Lola Ristovski is currently a junior at Liggett). My last two years at Liggett, we were able to make it to the state championship twice. I think my favorite memory was being able to play my last game in a Liggett uniform for the state championship, with both my sisters playing.”

Haleigh Ristovski shared a similar sentiment.

“What sticks out is I got to play with both my sisters for a whole year,” she said. “That was a lot of fun. And I got to play (in) two state championships. We ended up losing, but it was still a really cool experience to play in the Breslin Center with all those people.”

Madison Ristovski was selected as Michigan’s Miss Basketball in 2012, before heading off to play at U of M.

Although they play in separate conferences, it didn’t take long for the Sterling Heights residents to see each other on the court again, this time as opponents when UDM faced Michigan in a game won by the Wolverines Nov. 16.

“Playing my sister was definitely a highlight,” Haleigh Ristovski said. “It was really cool to see her sitting on the other bench. It was a really cool experience, especially for me and my family because we’re really blessed to have gotten those scholarships and to be playing at the Division I level.”

“Before our season started, that was one game I was really looking forward to playing,” Madison Ristovski added. “It was really cool playing against Haleigh — (to) walk out there and know she was on the other side warming up. I was pretty excited. Having a chance to play against each other in college was pretty cool.”

Both sisters have taken the time to reflect on the opportunity they have been given to play basketball at the collegiate level.

“I’m really excited,” said Haleigh Ristovski, who was selected as the Associated Press Class C Player of the Year her senior season at Liggett. “It’s been a life-changing experience. Many kids don’t get the opportunity to play college sports, especially at a Division I level. We’re obviously blessed to be doing that. I’ve gotten really close with my team and met a lot of people. It’s a good way to have my college experience, instead of just going to school. I like having both; it’s a nice balance. I’m really excited for the upcoming years.”

“Growing up, both of our dreams was to play college basketball,” Madison Ristovski added. “And so we’d push each other when we were younger. Ann Arbor and Detroit aren’t really that far, so having a chance (to) go see each other play and … live out our dream is a pretty cool feeling. I’m really proud of her for everything she’s done over there, so far.”