By Ken DeLaat
It was a festive atmosphere in the Cloud Friday night. A good sized crowd poured in and
‘80’s night’ had students and staff (including principal Ed Canning channeling some serious Miami Vice) celebrating that long ago decade I barely recall having been only in my 30’s back then.
The school’s gym underwent a much needed facelift last summer and the refurbished facility provided an appealing and welcoming venue for the Silver Conference games on this night
The always outstanding White Cloud Band was well represented as the pep band group kept that 80’s theme going all night with a superb selection of memories from the era encompassing everything from Arrowsmith to Michael.
That’s Jackson, not Jordan.
Both halftimes featured games between two substantial groups of pint-sized players who look to be the future of White Cloud basketball as they scrambled about the court passing, dribbling, defending and especially shooting. Shooting whenever and wherever they got the ball and though few possessed the oomph to get the ball to the cylinder one aspirant sank one bringing a hearty round of cheers from the crowd.
It was indeed a festive atmosphere.
And both teams won.
White Cloud 57 Hesperia 30
The girls team was looking to shake off a serious loss to Kent City whose Eagles are flying high and tearing through the Silver. The Indians came into that game last week having won 7 of 8 with the only blemish an overtime affair at Morley. The loss hurt and they were ready to start up another winning streak.
After a few trips up and down the court with no scoring Alyssa Miller put the Panthers on the board and into the lead at 2-0.
It was their last lead of the night.
Hannah Brown rifled in a triple, followed a stop with another 3-pointer then stole a pass and sped downcourt for an easy layup. Her layup gave the Cloud a 7-2 lead and elevated Brown to the 1000 point club. The junior sharpshooter hit the milestone in her third varsity season and the game was momentarily halted as she was presented with the ball by Athletic Director Jan Tuman. The ball will be placed in the trophy case alongside the others who etched their names in the school’s record book.
But there was a lot of game to play and the action soon resumed. The short break did nothing to cool down Brown who kept filling the nets including three more nailed from beyond the arc to reach intermission with 23 points. The visitors were staring at a 32-12 deficit as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The Panthers never stopped putting forth the effort but they were no match for the Indians Friday. When Brown wasn’t scoring Hallie Schultz was getting loose underneath and being fed passes from Alexis Strait or putting back one of her offensive rebounds. Strait twice broke away with steals ending in scores and Kayla Pasch came off the bench to add a half dozen as well.
It was the Cloud defense however that was most impressive as they smothered the Panthers creating offensive opportunities again and again.
“I tell you what that was a great team effort out there tonight,” said Coach Brown. “Our main focus tonight was energy. We’ve struggled with that at times but tonight we had it going on offense and defense. Our trapping worked well, the team just did a great job.”
And Hannah’s 1000?
“It's a tough situation being her coach and also being her father. I was glad to see it happen early so we could focus on the game but later tonight when we’re home I know I’ll appreciate it a lot more.”
Emily Bayle scored a team high 14 for the Panthers with MaKenna Swisher connecting on a pair of triples to finish with 10.
White Cloud 63 Hesperia 44
Not This Time!
When the Indians halted their season long losing streak at an even dozen with a win on Tuesday they focused on Friday’s battle with Hesperia. In the first game of the New Year the Cloud had the opportunity to stop the skid at 5 when they held a double digit lead on the Panther court. A late 4th quarter unraveling saw Hesperia escape with a one point win.
Friday they jumped out to an early lead and never let the Panthers back in the game. Sophomore Steven Holt knocked down a dozen first half points and Anthony Newfer muscled in another 8 as the Cloud built a 31-12 lead.
Hesperia continued to struggle scoring against the Indian defense. Scott Peters and freshman Isaac Parker connected from a distance but Newfer, Garret Ebert and Darrion Holland were effective in shutting down the Panther inside game.
Holt finished with an even 20 to lead a trio of Indians in double figures. Newfer tallied 12 and Jared Elder hit for 11.
“We’re starting to play really well now,” said Coach Jones. “The stretch run should be a fun one as we .look to make it three in a row on Monday night in Custer when we play Mason County Eastern.”