Grant Earns Win When It Matters Most
Story and Photos by Alexis Mercer
Final OT Grant 60 Sparta 55
In most athletic contests, when the game comes down to the wire, it is a senior with the most experience, especially in high intensity, playoff games, that a coach wants to have the ball. For Grant, a freshman will do just fine.
With time running out on the clock in overtime in the District Semi-Final against Sparta, it was freshman Carter Chase who stepped to the free throw line for the Tigers to seal the deal...
...His free throws put the Tigers up 58-55. Then senior Casey Geers made 2 more free throws in the final seconds to put the game completely out of reach.
To start the game, it was Geers who hit the first 2 point shot for Grant. And Bryce Davis from Sparta quickly followed it up with his own 2 point shot. Neither team could pull ahead from its opponent. Back and forth, tied and advantage back to tied.
The first half was mostly a defensive battle, with very few shots finding the bottom of the net. But at the buzzer heading into the locker room, Spartan Ben Willcox had 7 points and Chase led the Tigers in points with 5. The score was tied at 21.
A loud crowd was anxious for some offense in the second half. Sparta's Trent Smith started the scoring run with a 3 right from the first possession. Bryce Davis quickly earned another two and Grant called a time out to adjust. But Sparta kept pushing.
Then Carter Chase started to play. He drained a 3 from the top of the key, keeping the Tigers in it.
Grant once again found themselves down by 7 with a few minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The Spartans were raining 3-point shots and looking like they might repeat their win from just a week ago over the Tigers. But the Tigers refused to accept that fate. They were persistent and aggressive through the 4th quarter, coming back to within 2 points with 3:25 left on the clock.
Geers drew an offensive foul against Sparta and Grant took advantage of the change in momentum. With 31 seconds left on the clock, Sparta tried to stall, being up by 2 points. Grant didn't foul, and instead stole the ball. The Tigers screamed down the court and made a basket, but Grant's coach, Matthew McCorkle had already called a time out to save the possession.
Spencer Naffziger hit a two point after the time out and Grant found themselves tied with only 5 seconds left on the clock. Sparta got one last second opportunity, but to no avail. It would be overtime.
With the whole team effort on defense and Chase and Geers draining their free throws, the overtime win went to Grant.
When the win mattered most, in the District Semi-Final, Grant pulled off the big win. The Tigers head to the District Final against Newaygo on Friday night at 7 PM in Fremont.