Packers host Cards, Tigers meet Yotes, Devils look for #1
By Ken DeLaat, N3 Sports
Given the optimistic assumption that life will indeed return to some semblance of normalcy on Friday we are boldly predicting that action will resume on the hardcourts and local gyms will be filling up with stir-crazy, cabin feverish fans just craving a peek at something that isn’t on a screen. If not, then the following is likely for naught but as we said, the sports department here at N3 World Headquarters are an optimistic bunch.
Central Montcalm (11-0, 8-0) at Newaygo (6-4, 4-3)
Maybe the Hornets got a little rusty with the school being closed all week and will be a bit more off kilter than the Lions from the layoff. Maybe the Lions will play to near perfection during a spell of cold shooting by the visitors.
But those are pretty big maybes.
The Bees are averaging a hair below 70 points a game in their last 5 contests and the closest any team has been in that streak was when Grant came within 34 points last week.
Yes that’s right 79-45 and it was the toughest battle CM has faced since edging Fremont by a mere 30 points to start the new year.
I love this Lions squad. They are tough, resilient, hard working, team oriented and play with a reckless abandon at times. They have solid players and go deeper on the bench than they have for many years. They are, as I have opined before, an incredibly fun team to watch.
But to win this one a lot of things would have go their way. Early in the year they battled the Hornets hard in the CM home gym and did it without the services of defensive wizard Sophia Frisbie. Beyond that the Lions are a better team than they were at the start of the season.
But so are the Hornets and they are riding an unbeaten regular season streak in its second year. Having been bounced from districts last season weighs heavily on CM. They are tearing through the schedule with a vengeance and have independent powerhouse Arbor Prep next on their schedule and an interesting late season game with the high flying Eagles of Kent City.
Not saying the Lions can’t pull off an upset here. They’re the kind of unpredictable team that other coaches hate to see on the other side of the scorers table.
But like I said, a lot would have to go their way and staying out of the foul trouble the Hornets seem to be adept at getting teams into early is going to be crucial if they’re to have a shot here.
Big Rapids ( 4-7, 2-6) at Fremont ( 8-3, 6-1)
The Packers are rolling. Since being energized by a pair of dramatic overtime victories over Newaygo and Grant. They have steamrolled their last two opponents and are solidly in second place a game behind the stellar squad from Stanton. Coach Krim has some serious talent on this team. They can hit from outside play tough on the glass and the defense, particularly in the backcourt, creates a boatload of turnovers.
The Cardinals have trouble scoring and since the break have averaged just 35 a game. They have struggled to put up points against defenses that do not possess what the Packers put on the court.
Coach Krim’s team won’t look past this one or Tuesday’s makeup game with TC despite the looming road trip to Central Montcalm next Friday. Big Rapids will show up and play hard as they always do but the Cardinals lack the kind of depth the Packers put on the court.
Reed City (2-9, 1-7) at Grant (6-6, 5-3)
The Tigers are having a better year than their 6-6 mark shows. Ok they’ve lost twice to the Hornets but so has everyone else who has played them twice. They dropped a heartbreaker to the Packers in overtime and lost 2 to the top teams in the Silver and one against a Sparta team that is holding its own in the brutal OK Blue.
Although this Reed City squad came within a point of Grant when they played them on Coyote turf in mid-December it was not the same Tiger team we’ve seen recently. The offense has kicked it in of late. Throop, Whan, Arends and Co. can outscore most teams they face and the Coyotes are averaging just 26 points in their last four games while the Tigers are putting up about double that in the same span.
White Cloud (8-3, 4-2) at Hesperia (7-5, 2-4)
White Cloud is looking to respond big after a disheartening loss to the first place Eagles last week. It is the first of four games against teams that struggle on offense before a return engagement with Morley Stanwood in a game that would likely decide second place in the Silver.
The Panthers have won just one game less than the Cloud this year. Two wins against a Holton team that has yet to post a victory, one over Muskegon CC who possess but one win on the season, and four against teams in the smaller WM ‘D’ League. While those wins aren’t exactly cakewalks the Indians have lost only to Reed City and a squeaker to Newaygo and held home court against the Panthers with a convincing 60-31 win earlier this year. The Cloud can score if they’re not playing Kent City and a lot of their fans will make the trip across M-20 to support the team.
Hesperia has improved their game a great deal over the past few years and this season’s record is a testament to that improvement.
White Cloud however, can be lethal when they cut loose.
And they need this one to help put last week in the rear view mirror.
North Muskegon (3-9, 1-8) at Holton (011, 0-6)
It’s been a difficult year for the Red Devils.
Last week, however,they nearly picked off a pretty good Panther team in front of a very supportive home crowd and I have a good feeling about their chances to get off the schneid Friday night. They are once again at home and facing a Norsemen squad that hasn’t reached 30 points in any of their last 5 games. If the Devils can grab an early lead and keep some offensive pressure on NM they could erase that dreaded zero from the win column.