Boys: Late Game Heroics Put Pack On Top In Gold Race
Girls: Cardinals Dominate At Home
Photos By Renee Hanshue
Fremont 57 Big Rapids 54
It was a classic battle reminiscent of the down to the wire game the two teams put on display 7 weeks earlier in the Fremont gym.
Different outcome this time, though.
With 22 seconds on the clock Jordon McDonald muscled in what proved to be the game winner, a shot in traffic with 22 seconds of game time remaining that edged the Pack into the lead at 55-54. The Cards had a shot at retaking the lead but the attempt failed and they were forced to foul, bringing Logan Nelson to the line. With just seconds on the clock Nelson drained the pair to secure the win and the Pack brought the 7 game Cardinal winning streak to an end. Coach Bowen: “This was a huge win for our kids. Big Rapids is always a tough place to get a win. This game kind of sums up the type of team that we are-it's not always pretty, but we battle and fight the whole game. In the end, we were able to make enough plays to win.
“Our senior guards stepped up defensively and also hit some big shots for us.”
McDonald paced the Pack once again, dropping 25 on the hosts while pulling 8 off the glass and adding 3 steals on defense. Nelson finished with 11 points and a pair of steals and Joey DeLong grabbed 4 boards to go with his 9 points.
The hard fought road victory along with Reed City’s win over Grant makes it a 3 team race in the Gold. Fremont (7-1, 8-5), Big Rapids (6-1, 8-2) and Reed City (5-1, 8-2) each have just one loss in conference play. The Cards and Coyotes face each other twice more this season.
Fremont will host Orchard View on Tuesday.
Big Rapids 61 Fremont 35
Big Rapids took control early, taking a 15-6 lead after one and pouring it on in the second to hit the locker room with a 35-12 advantage. They didn’t relinquish control until a final period that saw the Cardinal bench empty and the Packers double their total scoring output up to that point.
Cardinal sharpshooter Rylie Haist was on fire as she canned a half dozen missiles from beyond the arc to pace the BR offense.
Coach Zerlaut: “We were outplayed. Big Rapids is a good team but we didn’t match their effort, energy, or intensity. I feel like we made some positive strides in the past couple weeks in that regard but we took a step backwards tonight.”
Jessica Bennett led the Packers with 8 points and 5 steals.
Fremont (2-6, 2-11) will head to the lakeshore Tuesday to face the Whitehall Vikings in a non conference tilt.
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 39 Reed City 31 OT
Tonight marked the start of the second half of regular season play. With eight to nine games remaining, and teams knowing their District assignments, the thought of play offs is beginning to creep into the picture. When teams play and who they will face is now based on some MHSAA voodoo mathematics called the MPR. The trick is to earn the bye, and not have to play on Monday. “The way the playoffs are now, it’s based on your winning against the teams so we’re really shooting to not play Monday in Districts,” stated Grant’s Coach, Josh Delamater. “So we’ve got Comstock Park, Fremont, Newaygo, Sparta, and us, and we would love to not have to play that Monday night game. Play Wednesday. So that’s what we’re looking for right now.”
But in order to earn the first round bye, the Tigers need to continue to take care of business. That business is not going to be easy since everyone in the CSAA has now seen the fury that is this year’s Tiger team. The last time Reed City saw Grant was early in December when the Tigers stunned the Coyotes 46-23 in Reed City. Now Reed City was looking for revenge, and a chance to take down Grant on Grant’s court.
The Tiger’s haven’t played in a week, and if you’re a Grant faithful, you know the rust develops quickly on this Tiger team. The first quarter of play was not the Tiger’s finest. They were slow. They were sloppy. They missed easy shoots. They simply looked lost and confused as Reed City took an early lead and dominated the Tigers eleven to four.
The second quarter started out well for the Tigers. Rider hit two threes as well as a three from Plume to lift Grant to a two point lead. It looked like the rust was finally shaken off, but Reed City adjusted and caught the Tigers flat again. With the remaining four and a half minutes in the half, the Coyotes managed to put up twelve and extend their lead by two going into the locker room up twenty-three to fourteen.
“I don’t know where to start, honestly,” stated Delamater. “We were flat, obviously. We came out shooting poorly. It reminded me a lot of the Tri County game. We do not like to have games off, and that game off on Tuesday, we just, you know, came out flat. We just couldn’t get into a rhythm. You know Reed City did a really good job. I was impressed. They came out with some good stuff against our press. Those girls hustled their butts off. They got up and down on the floor very well. Played great defense.”
Another fact about this year’s Grant team is they will commit to all four quarters. The Tigers came out of the locker room determined not to drop one on their home court. And much like the second, Rider answered the call with two more threes as well as one from Chase. The difference between the second quarter and the third was Grant came up big defensively, and held Reed City to only two points bringing the game within one point.
The Tigers took the lead in the fourth with another three from Rider, and then decided to burn out the clock. As Reed City stood motionless in their 2-3 zone defense, the Tigers simply held onto the ball. For approximately two minutes no one moved. I can honestly say I have never held a conversation with a player and an official together during play until tonight. With time eroding away, Reed City realized they needed to force Grant’s hand. With the remaining time, the two teams battled a tie that neither was willing to concede thus sending the game into overtime thirty-one all.
Grant drew first blood as Chase was fouled giving her two at the line. Making both, Grant again went to burning up the time. Reed City was quicker to respond this time with an intentional foul on Ashbaugh who hit both. Now down by four, and with Grant defensively not giving up anything, this forced Reed City into committing a series of intentional fouls. Fortunately for the Tigers, the rust and sluggishness that encompassed the first half of play was a distant memory as they went eight for ten at the line in overtime to battle back to a thirty-nine to thirty-one victory.
“We got some better movement in the second half off of [Reed City’s 2-3 zone]. Got some better shots,” shared Delamater. “Jaycee Rider hit some pretty key stuff for us, and big defensive quarter in the third … which was phenomenal. And really, we played a great defensive game, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. We’ve been talking a lot about grit. We lost some games early, you know the Cedar Springs game that we just didn’t battle through stuff. We lost the Tri County game where we really didn’t battle through stuff well. So we’ve had Big Rapids which was the same kind of game. Central Montcalm to start with two points in the first eleven minutes and thirty seconds, and to be patient, and to come back from that was phenomenal. And then tonight was another great game. These are the games you need down the stretch when you’re trying to battle for stuff. Obviously, we would need a miracle for Newaygo to drop a couple games, but it would be fantastic to be that close, you know what I mean? Make that game against them at the end mean something. I just told the girls we’ve got to battle every night. We’ve got to go out and still prove to everybody what we are and who we are. So they did a great job with that tonight. The grit, and the determination.”
It was Jaycee Rider who led the Tigers in tonight’s overtime win with twenty-one points. Chloee Chase hit for seven. Jocee Pleune put up five. Julie Ashbaugh had four, and Sara Arends scored two. The Tigers now sit at 6-2 in the conference, and 8-4 overall. They have a two game road trip starting at Montague on the first before returning home on the eighth to face Morley Stanwood.
Story and Photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 44 Reed City 66
The Reed City Coyotes came into Grant to start the second half of regular season play tonight. The last time these two saw each other was early in December at Reed City. The Tigers felt that this was a game they should have won but let slip away so tonight’s game was a chance to redeem themselves. At this point, in order for the Tigers to at least earn a share of the conference title, they would need a victory against Reed City, Big Rapids, and Fremont as well as Reed City dropping one more and Big Rapids dropping a couple. With a good portion of the Tiger’s fate in their hands, tonight began that vendetta trifecta.
The problem though with this Grant team is which team is going to show up. When they are on, this is a very dominating and high scoring team. But when they are off, oh boy, it’s almost painful to watch. Unfortunately, it was the “oh boy” team that was on the court tonight.
The Tigers seemed as though they were out of their element. Reed City confounded and confused Grant from the start with intense pressure and a full court press. Grant turned over sloppy passes, and allowed Reed City both the inside and the outside shots. Toward the end of the first, the Tigers had settled in somewhat, and at least kept the score within four.
Nonetheless, Reed City went on a six point run to start the second quarter before Grant called a time out. Coming out of that time out, Schuitema hit two threes to once again bring the game back to within four. That, however, would be the closest the Tigers would come to any sort of making this a game. Reed City simply dominated over Grant. Combine that with Grant’s inability to control the boards, sloppy play and poor shooting, this was a game that left the Tiger faithful just shaking their heads in despair.
“We were hoping for a better effort, and a better efficiency level on the offensive end to give us a chance against I would say a very competitive Reed City team,” stated Grant’s Coach, Joe Schuitema. “They have inside. They have outside. And they have relentless activity. We were not ready, or we did not handle it as well as we would have liked. And then when we’re down, we have to do something kind of special to get back, and we couldn’t find that tonight for sure. So it’s disappointing, but we will move on.”
Seth Schuitema put up seventeen tonight for the Tigers. Zach Barnhart and Gage Cronk each had six. Giovanni Fallador shot five. Lucas Swanson had four points. And Mason Woodard, Sawyer Carr, and Chase Geers each shot two. The Tigers will begin a four game road trip starting with Morley Stanwood on the first before returning home to face Newaygo on the eighteenth. Grant drops to 4-4 in the conference, and 5-6 overall.
Boys: Still Tied Atop Silver After Beating MS
Girls: A Week Facing The Best Around Ends In A Loss
Holton 53 Morley Stanwood 34
The Devils remained tied at the top of the Silver standings with a decisive victory over Morley. The visitors outscored their hosts in every quarter taking a 22-10 lead into intermission.
Coach Swanson: “Morley gave us a tough physical game. It's always tough going up there and winning. We found ourselves in some deep foul trouble early on and I just couldn't be more pleased with how our guys responded.”
Wyatt Monette grabbed 10 boards and led all scorers with 18 points, Carter Brant fired in 13 while dishing 6 assists and grabbing a half dozen staels and Kevin Erickson also tallied 13 and pilfered the hosts for 5 steals
Holton (5-0, 7-2) hosts Fruitport Calvary Monday and will travel to Newaygo on Tuesday before resuming conference play Friday with a trip to White Cloud.
Morley-Stanwood 49 Holton 24
What a week.
The Red Devils have had an interesting season thus far. They put together a pair of wins heading into the break then after waiting over a month to take to the court again they responded with 2 more wins to extend the streak to 4.
Then came this week and a schedule that would disrupt any coach’s sleeping pattern. Three consecutive games facing three state ranked teams in a mere 5 days.
Coach Jordan: “Another great team tonight and once again it was the pressure that my team struggled with. Third great team we played this week that pressed, and we just are not currently equipped to deal with it yet. It's a team weakness that we will continue to work on throughout the year but there is no quick remedy for lack of team ball handling. It takes time and consistency.
They jumped out early and it never really was a close game, very similar to the first time we played.
“It was a tough week for us playing three different teams with a combined record of 35-2, but I'm optimistic we can come out of this a better team. The back half of our schedule is a lot more favorable for us than the front half so I'm hoping these last three games will help us prepare and be ready for that as we're not gonna face this type of pressure again for a while.”
Girls: WC Defense Dominates Panthers
Boys: Stevens Shines in WC Win
White Cloud 47 Hesperia 14
The Panthers were the latest team to be bitten by the pandemic blues as they went into the game shorthanded and ran into a White Cloud defense that was smokin’ hot. They kept the Panthers off the scoreboard in the first half, hitting intermission with a 28-0 advantage. Abby Derks and Carsyn Sarlavai accounted for a good chunk of first half points and Scarlavai and Jaden Gomez were the linchpins of the defense.
Coach Wilk: "With our starters taking care of business early everyone on our team was able to contribute. I was very happy with how the girls played tonight. We will now change our focus to facing Mason County Central.”
Coach Grodus:”We were down 4 players and 2 starters because of Covid. White Cloud’s big players dominated the inside.”
Scarlavai led all scorers with 17 points, Derks hit for 10 and Gomez fired in 8.
Abby Joppich and Emma Joppich each scored 5 for the Panthers with Emma contributing a strong performance on the glass with 9 rebounds.
The win evened White Cloud’s conference mark at 3-3 with an overall record of 6-7. Hesperia falls to 0-6 in conference play and 2-8 overall. The Panthers visit Manistee Catholic on Tuesday.
White Cloud 68 Hesperia 40
he Cloud triumphed at home to put together back to back wins for the first time since winning their first 2 at the start of the season.
Coach Jones:” All 11 players played tonight and played well. With 10 of the 11 scoring. Andy (Worcester) has done a great job coaching Hesperia this year. They have improved tremendously.
Coach Worcester: “We got off to a great start in the first quarter with the lead. Early foul trouble forced us to change our lineup and White Cloud began to pull away. Turnovers continue to plague us on the offensive end. However, I was most impressed with our 6’4” freshman Ethan O’Neal. He had an impressive night offensively and defensively. “
For White Cloud Donavan Stevens knocked down a season high 17 points and Jared Watson dropped a dozen while Kevin Strait hit for 9 and Taylor Bode 8.
Jason Reuther (5) Wes Penland (4) Romeo Johnson (4) Sal Saavedra-mena (3), Vinny Ocker (3) and Joel Bradley (3) rounded out the balanced Cloud offense while Christian Ringler had another great game on the boards for the hosts.
“We look to continue our winning streak on Monday night in Walkerville,” added Coach Jones.
White Cloud evened its conference mark at 3-3 and are 5-7 overall.
The Panthers (0-6, 1-9) will travel to Mason County Eastern Monday.
CM’s Hill pours in 30 points
After a slow couple of minutes the Lions got hot as Grant Harness fired in a pair of triples and Josiah Long drained another. Bryce Decker muscled one in and pulled off a spin move for another bucket. Dyllan Bazzette also landed one from distance. Meanwhile the Hornets stayed in the game with Kaleb Crooks doing most of the scoring. The quarter ended with the hosts up 17-10 and playing with a good deal of energy.
In the second quarter Harkness, Decker, and Bryce Grugett each fired in a three and the Lions looked to build the lead before Fisher Hill came into the picture. Hill, who had started quietly when it came to scoring, started smoldering before the half scoring 3 times in a row to keep the Hornets within 5 points at intermission.
Then came the third and the smoldering Hill turned ice hot. He seemed to be all over the court either scoring, stealing a pass or dishing off to teammates. A 3 pointer by Hill pulled CM even then after a Long bucket Crooks hit from distance and gave the Hornets their first lead since they opened the game up 1-0. With Decker picking up a 4th foul Jaden Osawabine came off the bench and delivered with a basket and free throw to retake the lead. Long hit for 2 yhen Hill answered twice and Eric Hall tripled and added 2 and the teams entered the final frame with the visitors up by a deuce, 46-44.
Hill scored to open the quarter and Remy Wells canned a three to get the Lions within 2.
It was the closest they would get for the rest of the game as Hill & Co. scored the next 7 and held off the Lions for the win.
Josiah Long scored 12 points and added 6 assists, Grant Harkness scored 12 points and Bryce Decker hit for 11 points and tallied 5 blocks.
Newaygo (1-6, 3-8) will host Holton on Tuesday.
Defense dominates to deliver conference win
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
Newaygo 57 Central Montcalm 10
The Lions simply roared past the overmatched Hornets and while the visitors were missing a starter from their lineup, I’m not sure what kind of player it would have taken to make a difference on this night.
Even good teams like Newaygo will go through some doldrums from time to time. Games that might be won but without the same kind of fluid finesse they’re capable of.
Tonight the team operated like a skilled surgeon and systematically took hold of the game and never relinquished it. They slapped a defensive performance on an overwhelmed Hornet squad and finished the first quarter up 15-0. Emily Throop got CM on the board splitting a pair from the line to start the second before the Lions ran off 13 points. A Darby Peterson basket stopped the streak but Jaxi Long hit from the wing and twice from the free throw line and the half ended with Newaygo in charge 32-3.
Nothing changed in the third. The Lions got buckets from 5 different players in a row as Lily Swinehart, Kayla Fisk, Long, Emmerson Goodin, and Isabella Welch connected then Goodin split from the line and Welch banged in another and it was 45-3.
Coach Thomasma: ”Proud of the effort and execution from the girls tonight. I thought they really responded well after our game Tuesday and really brought the energy and intensity tonight. I thought our young girls came in and played some good basketball in the second half too.
Agreed. Barbara Toth, Maria Riddering, Lyda Lathrop and Iris Herrera gave starters a breather and took to the court with the same ferocity on defense as their predecessors.
Long knocked down 21 points, grabbed 5 steals, dished out a quartet of dimes and for good measure added 5 rebounds to her stats. Emmerson Goodin hit for 13 points while grabbing 9 rebounds and snaring 6 steals, Isabella Welch had 8 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds and Maria Riddering finished with a half dozen points. First place Newaygo (6-0, 11-1) will be on the road next week with a visit to Reed City Tuesday followed by another trip north Friday to Big Rapids.
By Ken DeLaat, N3 Sports
Central Montcalm at Newaygo
The last time these teams met, the Hornets kept things close for the first half then came out and hit a pair of threes to take the lead early in the third.
From that point on the Lions roared past the Hornets outscoring them 33-13 to cruise to the win in the conference opener.
Since then we’ve seen the rapid development of Painter and Swinhart in the Lion starting lineup and a huge lift from what has become a much deeper bench.
The Hornets? They have struggled a bit. That loss to Newaygo was one of 7 they strung together to open the season, before getting a pair of wins over Chip Hills and Tri County.
They are a game group of players but they are unlikely to match the talent of the Lions.
Reed City at Grant
Back in December the Tigers shook off a beat down by Kent City and began their conference schedule with a 20+ point win over the Coyotes.
And they are a better team than they were then. The Tigers have had a few ups and downs but they seemed to put it all together when they pulled into a tie for second with a road win over Big Rapids The ‘Yotes haven’t come close to beating a team with a winning record. Grant has some tough games ahead of them, but this shouldn’t be one of them.
Fremont at Big Rapids
The Cards took no prisoners in their first matchup on the Packer home court. Big Rapids has lost 4 times… to 3 state ranked teams and Grant.
Fremont has lost their share of games but they have shown some grit and played well the past couple of weeks. They may not be able to take down the Cardinals in the BR gym but if they play like they have been lately they aren’t going to lose by 30 this time around.
Hesperia at White Cloud
Neither team scores a lot but the Cloud scores more than the Panthers and can get those points from a variety of players. WC has played well of late, even staying within range of the Kent City team that has plowed through their opponents with nary a loss.
The Panthers have a couple of winnable games remaining on their schedule. I just don’t think this is one of them.
Holton at Morley Stanwood
The Devils are a good young team and will wind up a brutal part of their schedule Friday when they meet their 3rd state ranked team in a row on Morley’s home turf. The ‘Hawks have their own trio of tough ones ahead with Lake City and a rematch with conference leader Kent City on the docket next week followed by a trip to Grant.
The Red Devils were humbled at home in their earlier meeting. I think they’ll play better than they did in December. MS might be looking ahead to their upcoming games but they aren’t likely to let this one slip past them with so much on the line.
Central Montcalm at Newaygo
The Lions have fallen on hard times. They have not started games well and with the exception of a spirited run in the second half of the Grant game, they have not finished well either.
They beat the Hornets by a bucket the first time around but unless they can recapture some of the tenacity and team play they put on display earlier this season it won’t be a season sweep.
Reed City at Grant
The Coyotes won the conference opener between these teams on their home court. This looks to be a tough battle between the 2 best teams in the conference not named Fremont or Big Rapids. If the Tigers play like they are capable of, they will hold home court .
But they have to play well. The Coyotes need this win to stay in the race and will come at them hard.
Fremont at Big Rapids
This one could scramble the conference race or deliver a far easier road to the Cardinals should they win. Forget the misstep at Montague, this is a good Packer team that has won over a few believers this season including yours truly. They seem to have learned how to get the most out of each other and they will certainly need to be at their best to beat BR on their home court.
Hesperia at White Cloud
The Cloud dropped 65 points on the Panthers the first time around. They haven’t been over 50 since and while they should be able to hold off the Panthers, Hesperia has seen an uptick in scoring that could give an erratic WC offense some pause.
Holton at Morley Stanwood
Winning on the ‘Hawks home court is always tough but this is a Red Devil team that knows how to win and is looking to repeat as champs. They have 2 games against a resurgent Kent City team left on the schedule but they need to take care of business here and they don’t want Morley hanging around in the final minutes.
Boys team falls to Eagles
Newaygo 48 Holton 26
In sports there is a term called strength of schedule or more familiarly, SOS. It is often used in determining the ranking of a team and refers to the relative difficulty of a team’s opponents.
Whatever the highest rating there is for SOS for this week, the Red Devils own it.
Three state ranked teams in 5 days.
On Tuesday it was a trip to Newaygo where an early lead was snuffed out in the second quarter.
Coach Jordan: “(We were) coming off a brutal game the night before against Kent City (11-0) where my girls didn't compete like they are capable of.
“Effort was the message all day and pregame, and I am more than happy with the team that showed up tonight. We were actually up 10-7 after 1 quarter, but then gave up a 20-0 second quarter and that was basically the difference in the game. Newaygo(10-1) is a great team and they do a lot of things well and you can't go scoreless in any quarter and expect to stay up with them.
“We played the second ranked team in division 3 on Monday followed up by the 5 ranked team in Division 2 on Tuesday, that's a tough back to back for anyone so for a young team like ours it's a great learning experience and will only help us get better in the long run.
“We got another great team on Friday in Morley Stanwood on Friday (10-1) to wrap up a tough week.”
Emmerson Goodin led the Lions with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 6 steals. Jaxi Long had 13 points, 4 steals and 4 assists. Kayla Fisk had 10 points and 4 steals.
Coach Thomasma: "Give Holton a lot of credit. They came out and played hard and outplayed us in the first quarter. We had a 11 day layoff because of COVID cancellations and I thought we got our feet underneath us after the 1st quarter and we played with more intensity the rest of the way. We will move from this and get ready for a well coached Central Montcalm team."
Abbie Fowler scored 7 points for the RD’s while dishing out 5 assists and Ryann Robins hit for a half dozen and pulled 10 off the glass for Holton.
Kent City 72 Newaygo 46
The Eagles flew out to an 18-5 lead after one and built it to 36-14 by intermission. The Lions offense kicked in after the break but by then the game was in hand and Newaygo extended its losing streak to 5 games.
Coach Long: “Kent City was able to control the game early and keep the lead through the end of the game”
Josiah Long led Newaygo with 19 points and Remy Wells added 8.
Girls: Reeve, Gomez, Scarlavai hit double figures in OT victory
Boys: Team effort leads to convincing win
White Cloud 51 Chippewa Hills 45
Coach Wilk: “Tonight we won a thriller in overtime! The first half was all about defense. We were up 16 to 10 at halftime. Little did I know both offenses would go on to light it up in the 2nd half. Chippewa Hills scored 27 points, and we scored 21. The end result through four quarters was 37-37. Abby Derks fouled out midway through the 4th quarter with six points. To win this game we were going to need some help from our bench. The 1st minute of overtime we traded baskets, but ultimately after a key three from Edwards and 7 made free throws we pulled out a 14-8 advantage in overtime giving us the win.
“On the night we went 19-35 from the freethrow line, and we made them count when it really mattered. Leading the way tonight defensively was Carsyn Scarlavai and Jaden Gomez. Together they tallied 17 steals! Our leading scorers were Gaby Reeve with 17, Jaden Gomez with 13, and Carsyn Scarlavai with 12. Kyleah Baker, Cerea Bode, Jolena Deaton, and Lillie Keith all gave us valuable minutes tonight to ensure our overtime victory. Watching these young ladies fight for 36 minutes was an absolute joy. They earned this hard fought victory.”
White Cloud 39 Chippewa Hills 21
Coach Jones: “We had better energy and team play tonight and that equaled a win.
Jared Watson led with 12 points, Christian Ringler had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Taylor Bode finished with 9 points.
“Jason Ruether, Romeo Johnson, Donavan Stevens and Kevin Strait all played well tonight. We look to continue playing well on Friday night when Hesperia comes to town.”