Sparta 52 Grant 31
The Lady Tigers of Grant were looking to end their three game losing streak against the lady Spartans of Sparta. The Spartans, however, who were 1-2 as of last week, were looking for a positive note on their season before entering the winter break. And as the first quarter of play ensued, it appeared that both teams were not about to dispense this battle without leaving everything on the court.
Going into the second quarter, the Tigers were only down by four to Sparta’s 15 points. But the second quarter would not be kind to the Tigers. Sparta’s hands and aggressiveness would take its toll on Grant. No matter how well the Tigers moved the ball, Sparta made every opportunity to create turnover after turnover. By the time the buzzer sounded ending the second quarter, the Tiger’s limped off the court with only three second quarter points. The Spartans now comfortably led 30-14.
The second half started out right where the first half left off. Sparta continued their aggressive play while the Tigers continued to turn the ball over via soft passes. However, Coach Paulsen had seen enough, and he let his ladies, and Tiger fans, know it. That was the wakeup call the Tigers needed. And while it stopped the hemorrhaging of easy turnovers, the mistakes of the second quarter were too surmountable for the Lady Tigers to overcome. The Spartans left victorious with a final score of 52-31.
“I thought we came out and moved the ball well,” stated Coach Paulsen. “We got in a lot of trouble with trying to make the extra pass, and they had hands everywhere and got a lot of turnovers. They came out aggressive which kudos to them because they were physical, they were tough, and they ran the floor well. We just kind of got a step behind, and we were never really able to recover.”
Leading the Tiger’s was junior center, Kylie Patton, with eight points, followed by sophomore forward, Savannah Passage, with seven. Nichole Whan, Jill Arends, Kylee Wemple, and Emerson Cole also contributed with five, four, three, and two points respectively. The Lady Tigers next face the Comets of Coloma this Thursday in Coloma at 6:00.
Sparta 50 Grant 45
The Tigers were coming off their first win of this young season against Central Montcalm this past Friday, and looking to make it two in a row before heading into the winter break. In order to do that though, they would have to battle the height advantaged Spartans of Sparta. With both teams sharing an equal record, this clash was bound to be an exciting match up all the way to the final buzzer.
The Tigers and the Spartans swapped boards through the first three quarters of play, and kept the score within two. “I thought we played pretty well,” said Tiger’s head coach Matthew McCorkle. “I mean this has been the story now. We play well for halves or three quarters of the game, but there always seems to be a stretch somewhere where we seem to get lackadaisical maybe on defense, or we forget to execute what we are doing from a defensive strategy, or even on offense and that seems to be our Achilles heel.”
That “Achilles heel” would come in the fourth quarter with freshman guard, Fredrick Hull, finding foul trouble, and both senior guard, Tyler Naffziger, and senior guard, Cole Chase, fouling out. “We fouled way too much tonight too. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot with that a little bit,” stated coach McCorkle.
With five minutes left in the game, the Spartans retook the lead off of free throws. From that point on, it was the Sparta big men that frustrated the Tigers as the Spartans pounded the inside. “That’s our weakness; the lack of size,” coach McCorkle identified. “We just couldn’t do anything about it. I only got one big guy; they got about four. That definitely didn’t help us at all.” And while the Tigers continued to keep the game close, their lack of size and inability to capitalize on free throws exasperated their efforts. At the final buzzer, it would be the Spartans who emerged from the battle as the victors with a score of 50-45.
Leading the Tigers tonight was sophomore guard, Carter Chase, with 13 points. Senior guard, Tyler Naffziger, shot 11 points, and freshman guard, Fredrick Hull, followed with nine points. Also helping in the Grant’s effort was Alex Longcore (4 pts), Michael Frey (3 pts), and Conner Vanderwilt and Karlton Zerlaut both with two points.
The Tigers head into the winter break for a much needed rest. “I’ve got a couple of guys that are hurt. I’ve got a couple of guys that are sick,” stated coach McCorkle. “I think we’ll rest for a little bit, and then coming out of the break our focus is really the conference play now. We only have one [conference] loss, and I thought we competed well with [Big Rapids], so our focus will be on our conference opponents.” The Tigers will head into conference play against the Coyotes of Reed City on January 5 in Grant.