Lions Speed Their Way To Victory Over Central Montcalm
Story and photos by Alexis Mercer
"Who has Connor Swinehart" screamed Central Montcalm's Varsity Coach midway through the first quarter, followed quickly by "this is too quick...slow down"!
Those words sum up the game on Friday, February 1 quite nicely for the Varsity Boys as they battled it out on the court after an entire week off school due to the polar vortex temperatures and massive amounts of snow.
Neither team scored in the first 1:20 of the game due to the intense defensive battle that was fast and furious throughout the entire 32 minutes of play. The Hornets scored first, putting 2 on the board and then Connor Swinehart quickly answered with his own 2.
The hard play for both teams led to Swinehart getting an early foul, not a good sign for the Lions, who would need his height to compete with the tall roster for the Hornets.
Back and forth the fouls went as both teams tried to adjust to the speed and intensity of the game. Francisco Rios for the Lions looked like his feet were on fire, dancing from one player to the next with lightning quickness. This kept the Lions in it in the first quarter, heading to the break down 10-13.
The second quarter gave the crowd an offensive show, with Noah Cantu, Connor Swinehart, Wyatt Mortensen and Ryan Brummel all draining threes to open up underneath the basket and open up the score.
With 2:47 left in the first half, the Lions were up 31-22 and three of the Hornets players were bent over, hands on their knees, trying to recover from the pace the Lions were setting.
Heading into the locker room, the Lions were up 38-28.
Swinehart committed his third foul quickly to start the 3rd quarter, causing his play to be more careful under the basket. This allowed the Hornets to sneak back in, slowly but surely with field goal after field goal underneath. With 3:00 left in the 3rd, the score was 43-40.
Swinehart hit a 2, followed by Carlos Magana, putting the Lions back up by 5, but the Hornets refused to go away. After a foul and a made free throw by Central Montcalm's number 21, the score was all tied up at 47 and only 55 seconds on the clock for the 3rd quarter.
Swinehart pounded in a 3 point shot to end the 3rd, but the Hornets had made the point that they weren't going to give up before the final buzzer.
Only one 2 point shot by Central Montcalm was drained at the beginning of the 4th in the first 2:20 of the 4th quarter. Newaygo went 3:14 without scoring any points, but finally Francisco Rios got the Lions going again with a 2 point shot from the top of the key.
Central Montcalm took their first lead of the 2nd half with 3:28 left in the game. The next two minutes were a flurry of defensive pressure and free throw shots. Noah Cantu put in another field goal, Swinehart made two, was fouled, but missed the extra point, putting the Lions up 56-53.
Central Montcalm gained possession after a jump ball, then got fouled, making both free throws to put them back within 1 point. Swinehart ended the scoring with his free throw shot. And Newaygo's defensive steal sealed the game for the Lions.
In the end, it was Central Montcalm who outscored the Lions in 3 of the 4 quarters with only the 2nd giving them enough of a gap to come out with the win. Final score was 57-55.
Coach Barrette said of the game "Good win against a good team tonight. Been a crazy week and we knew things could be sloppy tonight with all the days off, but we were able come out on top."
Connor Swinehart led the Lions with 21 points, Noah Cantu contributed 20. Kade Bhyuan helped with 7 assists while Francisco Rios earned 7 rebounds. "Carlos Magana played terrific post defense in the second half, he kept us in it down the stretch when we struggled to score," said Barrette.