State Ranked Cardinals Shake Off Tigers, Stay Undefeated
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
At the halfway point of the varsity boys basketball season, the Grant Tigers were coming in with their sights on handing CSAA-Gold Conference rivals Big Rapids their first loss of the season. However, this was not going to be an easy task.
Grant (7-3 overall) entered tonight’s game on a five game winning streak since narrowly losing to Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian on January 3. Since then, Grant has outscored its opponents by 16.4 points per game.
The Big Rapids Cardinals, however, were looking to improve on their so far undefeated season. Ranked #8 in the State in Class B basketball, the Cardinals have been easily defeating their opponents by an average of 24.9 points per game. The last time these two teams met on December 9...
...Big Rapids gave the Tiger’s their first loss of the season with a 15-point margin. Tonight’s game, though, would be on the Tiger’s home court.
Grant opened up the game strong with a hard defensive press that kept the Cardinals big shooters from hitting the net. At the end of the first period, the Tigers led 20 to 17. Unfortunately, the second period would not go Grant’s way. The nets cooled for the Tigers as they scored just four points to Big Rapids 12. With a late rally, Big Rapids led by five at the halftime buzzer 24 to 29.
The rest of the game would not go any better for the Tigers. “The second half we turned the ball over way too much,” said Grant’s head coach Matthew McCorckle. “The guys from Big Rapids, some of their top players, Demetri Martin and Braeden Childress, started knocking down shots. When they’re doing that, they are a tough team to beat.”
And tough it was. At the final buzzer, Grant’s hope of giving Big Rapids their first loss was, well, lost with Big Rapids finishing with 66 points to Grant’s 55 points.
Despite the loss, the Tigers can come out of this game with some sense of pride. Senior Spencer Naffziger led the Tigers scoring with 20 points followed by 11 points for senior Tyler Lopez. Shayne Gardner, Marco Alvarez, Casey Geers, Carter Chase, Tyler Naffziger, and Gannon Carr also added to the Tigers efforts. Grant hit 12 out of 14 free throws, and drained five from outside the arc.
“We’ll just regroup and wish them the best of luck on their journey going back to the State finals,” added Coach McCorkle. “We got to take care of our business.”
For Big Rapids, Braenden Childress and Demetri Martin were the top shooters with 18 and 16 points respectively. Jackob Martinson followed with 13 points. Also adding to the Cardinals number were Dorian Martin, Christian Hector, and Demetri Martin. The Cardinals were 18 for 29 at the line, and put up eight three-point shots.