By Mike Gesler
Photos by Catalpa Photography
Grant 64 Central Montcalm 45
“They’re going to throw everything at us tonight. Give us a bunch of different looks,” Coach McCorkle told me before tonight’s game against the Green Hornets of Central Montcalm. The Tigers were coming into the game after a conference loss to Big Rapids last Friday, and a week off to work out some issues and rest. “I really believe we’re better than a .500 team (conference),” McCorkle added. The last time these two teams met, the Tigers took home the win so there was a sense of expectancy from the home crowd tonight.
Like déjà vu, the Tigers got off on a similar start as their lady counterparts did earlier tonight. Sophomore guard, Carter Chase, sank a quick two to put the first points on the board. An aggressive defense led to a quick Hornet turnover with senior guard, Tyler Naffziger, draining one from outside the arc for three. And that is where the similarity ends. The Tigers absolutely dominated the first half of play, and showed why they can be dangerous. Central Montcalm did their best to close in Carter Chase, but that left Naffziger free who scored 17 of Grant’s 35 first half points.
The damage could have been much worse toward Central Montcalm. Grant’s aggressive press and speed created one turnover after another which the Tigers failed to take advantage. In fact this inability to capitalize on turnovers was probably the only chink in Grant’s armor tonight. “There were times when we couldn’t catch the ball, or we were forcing stuff inside trying to thread a needle and the pass wasn’t there,” stated Coach McCorkle. “That seems to be one of our calling cards on the year. We are almost unselfish to a fault. We’re trying to make too many passes rather than just go and score the easy bucket.”
The second half of the game did not fare much better for the Hornets. While they were able to mount a couple runs late in the third and early in the fourth quarters, the Tigers would recollect themselves and dash any hopes of a Central Montcalm come back. In fact the last eight minutes of play would be Grant’s worst quarter, and even then Central Montcalm was only able to out play the Tigers by four points.
“I thought it was a good win,” stated Coach McCorkle. “We were really hoping to put together a nice full four quarter game. We got a little loosey-goosey in the third and fourth quarter. Maybe that’s because we didn’t have a game on Tuesday so you get used to practicing against the same guys, and it becomes kind of methodical. I’m pleased with the win.”
Tonight’s game was glimpse of the team that Grant is growing into. One that could see a District championship if they continue to show the improvements they have been working on over the course of the season. Two Tiger guards found double digits tonight; Tyler Naffziger with 21, and Carter Chase with 17. Michael Frey came close to double digits with eight points. Also helping in the Tiger’s effort was Cole Chase (5), Conner Vanderwilt (4), Patrick Lancestremere (3), Frederick Hull and Alex Longcore with two, and Karlton Zerlaut with one. The Tigers go on a road trip next week starting with a non-conference matchup in Morley Stanwood on Tuesday, and then resume conference play against Reed City on Friday before returning home to face Chippewa Hills on February 13.