By Mike Gesler
Photos by Catalpa Photography
Grant 73 Newaygo 65
When it comes to rivalries, last season matters. The Tigers took not only their home match against Newaygo, but also came into Newaygo’s house and won. This is a new season, and the Lions were looking to take back bragging rights by coming into Grant’s house and walking away victorious. And unlike last season, the Lions were much better paired up against a younger Tiger squad. Both teams were tied in the CSAA Gold conference at 3-3, but the Lion’s had two more overall wins on the season. Grant’s Middle School gym was packed with fans, and the student sections were in form, as the battle of the near north rivalry was set to begin.
Unfortunately for Newaygo, the best laid plans of mice and men would become their story. The Tiger seniors were not about letting the Lions win in Grant’s house. As the first quarter came to an end, the Tigers led 24-18. The Lion’s would make up some ground in the second quarter scoring seventeen, and bringing Grant’s lead within four before the half buzzer sounded. But in the second half, no matter what Newaygo did, Grant always seemed to answer back. If the Lions hit a three, the Tigers answered right back with a three of their own. If Newaygo shut down Grant’s looks at the board, Grant would adjust and stretch the lead back out. “Our kids played hard. Right now we haven’t taken that next step. We’re still a couple plays away. It’s been kind of a brutal stretch on the road,” shared Newaygo’s coach Joe Barrette. As the final buzzer sounded, it would be Grant hailing themselves as the victors once more with a score of 73-65.
“I’m super proud of the boys. I’m excited for them. A rivalry game like that. They wanted it real bad, and so I’m happy for them; I’m proud of them. I told them defensively was still a bit of an issue. We’re giving up too many points. Probably exciting for the fans; not for us coaches. We made some adjustments, and did certain things at the right time to win,” stated Grant’s coach Matthew McCorkle.
At the halfway point of the season, Grant now sits at 4-6 (4-3 conference), as Newaygo moves to 5-4 (3-4). Four of the Tiger shooters were in double digits led by senior guard, Tyler Naffziger, with nineteen, followed by Carter Chase (16), Alex Longcore (14), and Michael Frey (10). Also contributing to the Tigers victory was Conner Vanderwilt (7), Patrick Lancestremere (4), and Cole Chase (3). For Newaygo, junior forward, Connor Swinehart, led with nineteen points, and senior guard, Mitchell Karrip, followed with sixteen. Jacob Polasek (9), Kade Bruyan (7), Cooper Heinzman (6), Noah Cantu and Richard Hearth each with three, and Morgen Manlick (2) all added to the Lion’s effort.
The Tigers will stay at home and see Lakeview on Tuesday at 7:00, while the Lions will be on the road again against Morley Stanwood.