Hot Shooting Helps Tigers Take Rivalry Game 72-56
By Mike Gesler
Photos by Mike Gesler and Brayden Mumper
Tonight was the final conference game and Senior Night for the Grant Varsity Boys basketball team. Since the Big Rapids Cardinals already claimed the top spot in the CSAA-Gold Conference, one might have entered into tonight’s game believing there was little to nothing left to play for. But the Tigers weren’t playing just anybody. Tonight’s final conference game was against their near north rivals the Newaygo Lions.
Grant entered into tonight’s game with a solid 11-2 conference record and a six game win streak since losing a month ago to conference champions Big Rapids. Newaygo came in hoping to upset the Tigers and avenge...
...their earlier home court loss to their rivals. So while no championships were on the line tonight, vengeance and bragging rights certainly were.
Right from the opening tip off, both the Tigers and the Lions showed they came to play. Both teams pressed hard, but the Grant netters showed that they were not going to simply allow the Lions to bully them around. By the end of the first quarter, Grant took a 12 point lead with the score at 22-10.
The second quarter however, belonged to the Lions. Grant’s shooters cooled down slightly which gave Newaygo a chance to make up some lost ground. Yet, while the Lion’s did outscore their rivals by 2 points in the second quarter, it wasn’t enough to even up the gap, and the Tiger’s entered the half with a ten-point lead 39-29.
As the second half began, it became clear that the Tiger’s were not about to let another quarter go to the Lions. Much like the first quarter, there was not much the Lion’s could do to stop the hot hands of the Tiger shooters. The point gap opened up, and by the end of the game, the Tigers had defeated their rivals once again with a final score of 72-56. For the Lions, vengeance will have to wait until next year. This year, bragging rights go to the Tigers.
“I was glad for the seven seniors I have. I thought they had a pretty good game,” said Tiger head coach Matthew McCorkle. “Some things I would like to correct defensively, but on a night like that with a lot of emotions especially against our rival, I’m very happy with the effort.”
"Grant’s defensive pressure speeded us up faster than we were ready to play and they capitalized on our mistakes," said Newaygo Coach Joe Barrette.
For Grant, Senior Spencer Naffziger led their efforts with 27 points, followed by Freshman Carter Chase with 10 points. Also helping in the points were the rest of the Tiger Seniors Shayne Gardner (5), Tommy Kelley (2), Marco Alvarez (5), Casey Geers (8), Gannon Carr (2), and Tyler Lopez (8), along with Junior Mike Frey (5). The Tigers were 67% shooting, and 8 for 12 from the line.
For Newaygo, Senior Cameron Fisk led their efforts with 14 points, followed by Junior Mitchell Karrip and Sophomore Connor Swinehart each with 12 points. Morgan Manlick (1), Riley Davis (5), Jacob Polasek (5), and Jamie Pike (7) also helped contribute to the Lion’s point total. Newaygo was 58% shooting, and 7 for 17 from the line.
The Tigers will face Sparta away next Tuesday and get a chance to check out a possible District playoff team if they can make it past Fremont in the first round. For Newaygo, they will see the West Michigan Conference Champion Whitehall Vikings before entering their District round against Tri-County.