By Mike Gesler
Photos by Catalpa Photography and Alexis Mercer
Grant 51 Newaygo 40
All season, Grant has been looking to put together a solid four quarters of play. And while they have come close many times, there always seemed to be one quarter that has eluded them. Tonight would be their last effort in the regular season before heading into District play starting next week. The only problem is that they would have to do this against their near north rivals Newaygo. Newaygo, on the other hand, was looking to prevent Grant from taking one in their house. The last time these two teams faced each other was in Grant, and while Newaygo came within one point of tying the game, Grant ultimately prevailed as the victors winning 44-31. “Whenever Newaygo and Grant get together, it’s always a great atmosphere. You know, it’s a fun rivalry. I didn’t expect anything less from the fight from them,” Grant’s Coach Paulsen expressed.
The Tigers came out with junior Cecelia Male firing on all cylinders, and draining a three to open up Grant’s scoring. They continued to build their lead by nine points before Newaygo was able to put points on the board. And even then that point came only after Newaygo senior Madison Bush was fouled by Kylie Patton. The skinny of the first quarter was that Newaygo just could not find the net. Of their five first quarter points, only two were the result of a field goal; the other three resulted from free throws. “I thought we played, outside the first four minutes, we started off, had a bad start, and you can’t do that,” stated Newaygo’s Coach Thomasma.
The second quarter fared much better for Newaygo. The Lady Lions settled in, shook off that first quarter, and the game became much more of what one expects when Grant and Newaygo play each other. Yet, that nine point deficit continued to haunt the Lions as Grant headed into the locker at half with a lead of 28-19.
There was still half a game to play, and the Lady Lions were not about to surrender their Pride Lands. Newaygo freshman Jaylee Long showed Grant that she is just as effective outside the arc as she is inside the arc by netting three points and then quickly adding another two. Just like that, the Lions had cut Grant’s lead down to four. But, that was as close as Grant would let Newaygo get. Junior Jill Arends would hit two followed by another three from Male, and just as quickly the Tigers had their nine point advantage back.
“We competed. We played well in spurts, but you’re not going to beat someone like Grant giving them a nine point lead. We’re not good enough to do that. I thought we competed overall; played hard. I’m happy where we fought and ended. We could have folded there a couple times, and we kept fighting back,” stated Coach Thomasma. All-in-all there just wouldn’t be enough time in the game for Newaygo to keep fighting as Grant finally realized four quarters of solid play. As the buzzer sounded, Grant had taken the Pride Lands by a final score of 51-40.
“Awesome game. We gave them a real good shot, and they took it. They came back, and punched us a couple times. Kudos to our girls. We withstood both having some lineups we don’t normally have out there, and also withstood some of their hot shooting. So I thought it was a great overall job,” shared Coach Paulsen
Celelia Male led the Tigers with 20 points (18 of which were three point shots), followed by sophomore Nichole Whan with 17. Jill Arends added six, and Emerson Cole, Brooklyn Presler, Angela Contreras, and Kylie Patton each had two. The Tigers finish their regular season of play at 4-10 in the CSAA Gold conference, and 6-14 overall. The ladies now head into District play, and will face the winner of Tri County/Newaygo on Wednesday in Tri County.
For the Lions, freshman Lillian Ruehmeier and Jaylee Long each contributed double digits with 14 apiece. Daisy Hagen shot six, as well as Dana duChemin (3), Alexis Brocker (2), and Madison Bush (1). The Lady Lions finish 2-12 in the CSAA Gold conference, and 5-15 overall. They will face Tri County on Monday in District play at Tri County.