Hart 61 White Cloud 27
The Cloud hit what is likely the toughest part of their schedule facing a pair of the best teams in the region back to back with the added element of both being on the road.
Coach Wilk: “Fresh off a game against Kent City we had a quick turn around to play another top team in division 3. The score would indicate a lopsided loss but this game was within eight points in the third quarter a couple of times. Hart has some great ball players, so we knew we needed to start off strong. We scored 9 points in the opening period, and Hart put up 16. Our defense and their defense tightened up in the 2nd. We allowed 9 more points, and we scored 5. Halftime was 14-25. To start the third we had a couple plays drawn up to get some open looks and we hit our shots early to close the gap to 8. From that point on Hart made a nice run to extend their lead 25-40 at the end of the 3rd. In the 4th quarter Hart continued their run with a 21 to 2 advantage. The end score was 27 to 61.
“Outside of the 4th quarter I thought we played them very well. We struggled on the defensive glass, and I think that was our downfall tonight. I thought our girls played with a lot of heart, and they all continue to grow as players and as people. Luckily, we have a few nights off before we play Newaygo on Friday because we have some bumps and bruises that need to heal up. Jaden Gomez might not have scored tonight, but she was a huge reason why we were in this game tonight. We were led offensively by Gaby Reeve who had 11 points. Kiara Edwards hit for 10, and Annie Felpausch/Gracy Holmes added 6 more.”
White Cloud (3-4, 7-7) will hist Newaygo on Friday
Whitehall 28 Newaygo 21
In a low scoring affair the Vikings came out on top behind a 4th quarter comeback. The Lions went into the final frame with a 21-17 lead. That’s when the offense went stone cold getting blanked in the fourth while the Vikings scored 11 to take and hold the lead for the win.
Coach Thomasma: "Girls played hard and got in the right spots for the most part but we just didn't shoot the ball well at all tonight. We had opportunities to make some shots but they just didn't fall and you can't do that against a team like Whitehall who plays pretty good defense."
Amaya Lathrop led the LIons with 7 points and Barbara Toth hit for a half dozen.
Whitehall’s Ashley Tenbrink scored a game high 9 points and fellow Viking Lola Buckner added 6.
Newaygo (2-5, 4-11) has a quick turnaround with a road game in Holton on Tuesday then travels a bit north to take on White Cloud on Friday.
By Ken DeLaat
A quartet of teammates and former rivals from our area are doing their thing on a successful MCC team. Led by former Packer Calla Miller, who recently was named conference player of the week, the Jayhawks also have Fremont’s Haley Zerlaut as well as Lion alumni Emmerson Goodin and Kayla Fisk on the squad. They are currently 4-1 in conference play with a 13-5 overall record. This Wednesday they play in Harrison facing the Lakers of Mid Michigan CC with a shot at a share for first place in the MCCAA-North standings. Saturday they play at home at 1pm. Here’s a link to their team page for more info.
What a huge disappointment the NFC game proved to be. Not because the Niners lost. I didn’t have a dog in this fight so the winner of this was inconsequential to me. But seeing a great story like the Mr Irrelevant qb (the #3 qb before #1 and #2 got hurt) going against the Philly phenom with a pair of awesome defenses for each to confront was one of those perfect storm matchups.
Except the storm fizzled out with the injuries to Brock Purdy and then when the backup to the backup to the backup was also injured it left Frisco a shell of a team on offense when Purdy was put back in despite being unable to toss a coin much less a downfield pass. Philly is a good team. Possibly a great team. But this was like a heavyweight bout where one fighter truly did have one arm tied behind his back
“Those are some stones!” Loved that call by broadcaster Tony Romo when the Bengals joe Burrow tossed a 35 yard pass on 4th and 6 to Ja’Marr Chase in the AFC contest. This game was all it was supposed to be and yet ended up being decided by a penalty. A Lion-like penalty for those who have followed our Detroiters the past few decades.
Watching #1 Purdue play makes me wonder how in the world Rutgers beat them for their only loss. Edey looks like he can drop 30 on a team whenever he wants. Got a hunch teams that play them in March will have seen a lot of Purdue/Rutgers tape by the time they hit the court.
They may not stay atop the polls and could lose by hitting a cold spell like they did at the charity stripe against the Scarlet Knights, but they are already one of my Final Four picks.
Which likely doesn't bode well for them given the ineptitude of my predictions in recent years.
WC Photos by Bobbie Cruzan
Kent City 46 White Cloud 35
The Eagles put a halt to the Cloud’s 3 game winning streak with a hard fought win over a game WC squad.
Coach Jones: “Had a playoff feel to the game tonight . Proud of how hard the team played, we just simply missed too many open shots tonight. We will learn from tonight's game and get ready for another tuff stretch of games next week
Mason Reuther paced the scoring on the night dropping in 17 while Kevin Strait naked 7 and Hoah Robinson hit for 5.
White Cloud (4-3, 7-5) will have their hands full on Tuesday when they host the top ranked D2 team in the state, the undefeated Hart Pirates..
Big Rapids 74 Grant 58
The Cardinals kept their stranglehold on the top spot in the CSAA conference with a win in Tiger territory.
But it didn’t come as easy as the score indicates.
Down 7 at half, the Tigers took a 43-39 lead midway through the 3rd quarter but Big Rapids responded with their own run to close out the quarter up by 6. The 4th saw the Cards take charge and seal the win.
Austin WhitneyPaced the Tiger offense with 16 points followed by Zak Barnhart who hit for 10. Lucas Swanson scored 9 and Chase Geers added a half dozen to the Tiger scoring.
Grant (4-3, 7-6) will host Fremont Tuesday.
Fremont 69 Ravenna 42
The Packers made it three in a row with a decisive win over the Bulldogs.
Coach Bowen: “I thought we played with great effort again. We didn’t execute or communicate on defense as well as we have been, so that is something we’ll look to clean up. We have been shooting much better the last couple games. Credit the kids for working hard on their shooting in practice the last few weeks. It’s definitely paying off.”
Jordon McDonald led the Pack with 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. Gavin Richards had 14 points and 8 rebounds. Chaz Miller filled the stat sheet with 9 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
Fremont (3-3, 7-4) travels to Grant Tuesday for a non con matchup between two old rivals.
WC Photos by Bobbie Cruzan
Fremont 30 Muskegon Catholic 28
The Crusaders held an 11-6 lead after one quarter, and a 21-10 lead at halftime, behind the sharp shooting of Carrie Ladd and Claire LeVigne. They combined for 19 of the team's 21 points, including five made three-pointers in the half. The Packers, however, clamped down in the second half on defense with Julianne Hernandez, Riley Chase, Mia Clemence, and Katie Ackerman taking turns to hold the duo from MCC to just one field goal and one free throw in the second half. Fremont closed the gap to 24-20 at the end of the third but never were able to tie the game until the final minute and a half at 28-28. After getting a defensive stop, Fremont held the ball to chew some clock before Jessica Bennett found Lily VandenBerg for a 15 foot jumper from the baseline that found nothing but the bottom of the net to put the Packers up by 2 with less than a minute remaining. MCC pushed the ball up the floor quickly and had a good look at a long three that drew rim, but bounced out and the Packers prevailed.
Coach Zerlaut : "I am just really happy for our kids tonight. They have continued to work hard despite some frustrating close losses. We really struggled to score in the first half tonight, despite executing well on offense. They could have given up when we were down 11 at the half, but instead they committed to work hard on the defensive end and we found a way to score just enough points in the end. I'm really proud of their perseverance tonight."
The Packers were led by Jessica Bennett's 13 points and 5 rebounds while Olivia Hansen and Lily VandenBerg fired in 6 points apiece.
Fremont (2-5, 5-11) visits Grant on Tuesday.
Kent City 56 White Cloud 16
The Eagles had their ten game winning streak stopped by Big Rapids on Tuesday a loss that dropped them out of the top spot in the conference race. They wasted no time getting back on track when they hosted the Cloud on Friday.Coach Wilk: “It seemed like Kent City could not miss tonight. They made eight threes in the first half and then three more in the 2nd. Anytime we give up 56 points we know there is room for improvement, but I give a lot of credit to Kent City tonight they had very good ball movement. When they found an open shot they hit it.
After a less than stellar first half I felt like our girls brought a little more energy in the second half. I was very happy to see a couple of our younger players step up tonight. Jorja Baker went into the game with confidence, and she hit our only three of the night. Gracy Holmes rotated well in our defense, and she had quite a few rebounds. Jolena Deaton led us in scoring with 5 points.
White Cloud (3-4, 7-6) will head to Hart Monday. The Pirates currently lead the WMC Rivers conference.
Mason County Central 55 Holton 37
The Spartans came out hot, dropping the first dozen points and taking a 17-7 lead after one. The Red Devils stayed within 10 by halftime but the Spartans built the lead in the third and came away with the WMC Rivers victory.
Coach Jordan: “We played them even in the second and it was 30-20 at half. We just struggled on the offensive end to get into any sort of flow. Give credit to their extended 2-3 they played, we just didn't get many good looks. They’re a solid, well balanced team with good depth and we just could keep up with them.
Our goal was to compete with them for 4 quarters, we got half way there.
Ryann Robins paced the Devil offense knocking down 12 points and pulling 11 off the glass whikeKate Conzemius hit for 6 points.
Holton (3-5, 6-9) will host Newaygo on Tuesday.
Big Rapids 44 Grant 30
The Cardinals took a 15-6 lead after one and managed that lead well, never allowing the Tigers to mount a rally. The win keeps BR in front of the pack in the conference race.
Coach Delamater: "44/30 wouldn't lead you to believe that we played BR tough, but outside of the 1st quarter, we played them pretty well. They are an extremely tough team physically and mentally.
"Julie Ashbaugh led us again with 19 points on 6-9 shooting from the floor and 7-11 from the line and 8 rebounds. Reese Gragg played a great game for us with 5 points and 5 rebounds and Makayla Zerlaut added 5 points."
Grant (4-3, 9-7) hosts an old foe Tuesday as Fremont comes to town for a non conference tilt.
Lions lose lead late but triumph in OT
Story by Ken DeLaat photos by Alexis Mercer
Oakridge 60 Newaygo 62
It seemed as if the Lions somehow struggled with success in their matchup with Oakridge.
After scoring the first 11 points of the game and leading by as much as 14 in the first quarter the Eagles shot themselves back in the game with three pointers to pull within 4 before Bryce Decker nailed a triple and Caris Nelson added a bucket and the teams went to halftime with Newaygo up 9.
After intermission the Lions pulled ahead and held a 16 point edge at one point before finishing the period up 13. The early 4th saw them keep the Eagles at bay but Oakridge came out of a timeout with 6 minutes left and slapped an effective press on Newaygo carving the lead down to 4 halfway through the quarter.
The Lions turned cold at the charity stripe (just 4 of 13 down the stretch) and Oakridge was poised to take the lead trailing by just one and in possession of the ball. Decker came through with a huge block to save the lead but a late foul sent Oakridge to the line and after converting both the game went to overtime tied at 54.
A split at the foul line gave Oakridge their first lead of the game early in OT but Nelson put the Lions back up one with a bucket. Oakridge tripled to regain the lead and Decker hit one off a rebound to tie it up at 58. A stop on the other end led to another Decker bucket but yet another foul sent the Eagles to the line with a shot at tying and they converted with 30 seconds left.
Newaygo called time then brought the ball down against intense defensive pressure. With time running out Decker found an open Josiah Long under the basket and shot him a pass that Long scooped up and in at the buzzer and the Lions escaped with the win.
Coach Jason Long said about the evening: “This non-conference game turned into a thriller on the court Thursday night. Newaygo got out to a quick start and maintained close to a ten point lead until the fourth quarter where Oakridge made a run that brought the teams to a draw after four quarters and a chance to play overtime. The overtime session went back and forth looking like whoever had the ball last would win. This would hold true as Josiah Long ended up with a loose ball at the block and muscled up the game winner as time expired.”
Bryce Decker had a big offensive night scoring 28 points and pulling down 12 rebounds while Josiah Long and Caris Nelson added 10 points each. Grant Harkness was big on the glass with 8 rebounds and Dyllan Bazzett dished out 5 assists.
White Cloud/Lakeview photos by Bobbie Cruzan
White Cloud 31 Lakeview 28
The Cloud won their second conference game in a row in a low scoring affair against the visiting Wildcats.
Coach Wilk;”After our last game we really wanted to clean up our mistakes tonight, but unfortunately we still missed a ton of easy shots. Luckily, we were able to make just enough to pull out an exciting win on our home floor. The first quarter started off pretty slow tonight. Scoring was hard to come by until Gaby Reeve got into the game, and she put up 7 points to give us the 9 to 6 advantage at the end of the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter Lakeview put up 6 more points, and we only managed one Gaby Reeve bucket. We went into halftime down 12-11 which was very reminiscent of our last game. Lakeview came out of halftime red hot, and they put up the first 9 points of the quarter. We were now down 10 points. Jaden Gomez called her own number and sank a deep three to get us rolling. Right after her shot we got a couple of free throws from Brooke Ringle and Gaby Reeve. Annie Feldpausch had a nice weak side put back before the end of the quarter, and we were now within 3 points. With the momentum shifting into our favor we saved our best quarter for last. Gomez hit another three after a couple Lakeview points, and then Jolena Deaton had a beautiful drive and finish to give us the lead. Once we secured the lead our offense did a marvelous job taking care of the ball and getting to the freethrow line. Jaden Gomez hit four free throws in the final minutes to ice the game. Gaby Reeve finished the night with 12 points 7 rebounds, and Jaden Gomez had 10 points and 2 steals. Kadence Nickoloff didn’t score tonight, but she provided some good interior defense.
Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of growth from our players. I was very happy how they fought back tonight after having a rough start to the third quarter. We have been doing a great job at keeping the lead once we get it in the 4th quarter. A lot of teams struggle with the pressure in close games, but I feel like our leaders have stepped up when the games are close like this one. With this being a conference game it was very important that we won this one, and our girls fought hard to get this win.”
White Cloud (3-3, 7-5) wil head to Kent City Friday. The Eagles lost a first place showdown with Big Rapids on Tuesday.
Holton 43 Ravenna 37
The Red Devils avenged an early season loss to the Dawgs as they kicked off the second half of the conference schedule with a win.
Coach Jordan: “This was a game we had to have and the girls came out with the right effort it takes to compete. We played them earlier in the year and we all felt we let the game slip out of our hands at the last minute. We were up all game in that one and they closed out an 11-0 run to win by 5, so this is one we had marked. I felt we made it tough for them all game and we held their leading scorer to just two field goals which was a point of emphasis in the pregame. Overall happy with the effort. We were up by roughly 10 from the second quarter on so we were able to keep the cushion the second quarter gave us. Good chance we will see them again in districts and we are expecting another tough game out of them.
"We have Mason County Central on Friday which will be an uphill battle for us, but a great opportunity to play a good team."
Abby Fowler canned 13 points and nabbed 5 steals, Ryann Robins took 10 off the glass to go with her 11 points and Layla Cannady also hit for 11 points.
Central Montcalm 70 Grant 55
The Hornets came out on their home court on fire as they scorched the nets for 25 first quarter points while holding the visiting Tigers to just 8. The early lead held up as Grant settled in and played CM pretty even through the rest of the game but could not gain ground on their hosts.Coach Delamater: “ What do you do when a team comes out shooting like that? They only made 2 3's after the first quarter. Ashbaugh was in foul trouble from the second quarter on and fouled out early in the 4th. She still ended up with 16. Jocee Pluene, Jaycee Hance, Makayla Zerlaut, and Madison Thompson had great games with 10, 8, 7, and 6 respectively. We were down 19 at the half and our goal in the locker room was to beat them in the second half (36/32). I appreciate the effort of the team continuing to play hard despite the circumstances.”
Grant (4-2, 9-5) visits Chip Hills on Friday.
Reed City 46 Newaygo 29
The Lions struggled to score early on and dropped the conference matchup with the Coyotes.
Coach Thomasma: "The girls picked up the energy and the effort in the second half tonight but we just couldn't make up for the first half performance. We just didn't shoot the ball well enough to catch back up to Reed City. I got to give them credit. They hit some shots tonight and came ready to play."
Maria Riddering led the Lions with 6 points, 3 steals and 3 rebounds. Barbara Toth also chipped in 6 points. Grace Painter and Naomi Schillman added 5 points a piece.
Newaygo (2-5, 4-10) will be off until next Monday when they host the Vikings of Whitehall.
White Cloud 56 Lakeview 43
The Cloud won their third in a row coming back from a first quarter deficit to inch ahead by intermission before taking charge in the third.
Kevin Strait led the hosts in scoring with 17 points, Noah Robinson canned 13 and Mason Reuthern hit for 11. White Cloud (4-2, 7-4) wil visit Kent City on Friday
Grant 79 Central Montcalm 72
The Tigers exploded out of the locker room after the half outshooting their hosts 27-9 then held off a late Hornet rally to capture the conference win.
Lucas Swanson led five players in double figures with 18 points. Zaiden Phillips dropped a dozen, Oakley Obenauf hit for 11 while Zak Barnhart and Blake Rider chipped in 10 apiece.
Grant (4-2, 7-5) will host league leading Big Rapids on Friday..
Reed City 60 Newaygo 33
The Coyotes delivered the first conference loss to the Lions in convincing fashion as they grabbed an early lead and never let go.
Josiah Long led the Lions with 11 points and Bryce Decker hit for 8.
Fremont 72 Mason County Central 61
The Spartans came into the game with a 9-1 record with the only setback a loss to Hart, the top ranked team in D2. The Packers have been on a win-lose win-lose pattern since the calendar turned and had yet to beat a team with a winning record.
And they were on the road, playing the Rivers Division Spartans in Scottville on a Monday night.
Down 16-10 after one the Packers caught fire in the second to take the lead they would hold the rest of the night as they notched the victory.
Coach Bowen: “It was a really good win for us on the road vs a good team. I thought both teams played really hard and it was very competitive. We started a little slow and fell behind early but to our kids credit, we battled back and took a 10 point lead going into halftime. We were able to hold them off in the second half. We handled their press very well which is something that we’ve struggled with so that was good to see. We also were able to make 13 out of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice it. The kids are really working hard and improving.”
Jordan McDonald led a quartet of Packers who hit double figures finishing with 21 points. Chaz Miller dropped 20 on the Spartans while Gavin Richards hit for 15 and Will DeBlake knocked down 10.
Fremont (3-3, 6-4) will look to make it three in a row when the Bulldogs of Ravenna (3-3, 4-7) from the Rivers Division comes to town Thursday.
Hesperia 66 Mason County Eastern 59
Ian Fox fired in 20 points and teammate Maddox Mosely tallied 18 as the Panthers picked up win number 3 on the season. Hesperia fell behind after one but battled back to take the lead and held off a determined Cardinal team to capture the win.
Coach Worcester: “I’m really proud of our guys. They were able to take tonight’s game and improve on our deficiencies. Ian Fox and Maddox Mosley had a great game offensively. Overall I felt our team improved and played together well.”
Hesperia (1-5, 3-9) will host Belding (2-9) next Tuesday (Jan. 31). The Black Knights compete in the OK Silver.
Ravenna 83 Holton 43
The Dogs came out strong to take an early lead they would maintain through the night as the Red Devils fell short in the Rivers Division game.
Coach Swanson:” Ravenna played a really nice game tonight. I thought we were quite competitive until we took on heavy second quarter foul trouble. However, the reality is if our defense doesn't get better we won't be hanging around late very often.”
Holton will get a week off before meeting Newaygo in the Lions home gym next Tuesday.
Story and Photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 76 Tri County 63
Grant has been on a two game win streak and finding ways to right the ship that had gone a little more astray this season than they would have scripted. With wins against White Cloud and Ravenna, the Tigers were sitting at .500 and desperately wanted to stay above water. While Tri County hasn’t been a strong contender in the CSAA, they were just the team that could play havoc to Grant’s future hopes of getting back in the league race.
Neither team at first could buy a bucket. Both had opportunities but the ball simply wouldn’t drop inside the rim. As the two teams settled in, it would be Grant’s Oakley Obenauf and Zak Barnhart that would get the Tigers going. With four on the board for Grant, Tri County’s Plotts hit two and was sent to the line for a bonus. The two teams would then trade blows before Grant’s aggressive man-on-man coverage and tenacity at the boards would kick in. The Tigers went on a domination streak and controlled the game through the rest of the half limiting the Vikings to only eighteen points while putting up thirty-five of their own.
Grant has had issues trying to put together four solid quarters of play this season and tonight was no different. The Vikings came out of the locker room a different team. They rotated better in Grant’s man-on-man coverage which allowed them to find the player with an open look. Their bigs became more aggressive at the boards. They picked up their tempo to better match the Tiger’s pace. And they went on an eleven point run for a thirty point third quarter to shrink their deficit down to ten. However, that was not enough. The Vikings were not able to sustain their energy in the fourth as the Tigers shook off their daze, slowed the game down, and kept the Vikings from claiming the Tiger’s court as their territory.
“We are very pleased to come away with a victory tonight because we know that Tri-County competes. They’re physical. They’ve got some really nice players,” shared Coach Schuitema. “We needed to show that we can win in our home gym. We’ve got a nice little win streak going. We’re trying to find ourselves to play four good quarters in a game. I think tonight you saw we played two good quarters, and then we didn’t play two good quarters, but we had a big enough lead that we were able to then sustain it and put it away down the stretch. I know the guys are excited about the league race and we’re trying to get back in it so we’ve got to take care of business.”
Taking care of business tonight was Lucas Swanson who had the threes dialed in with eighteen points. Both Zak Barnhart and Gage Cronk also shared in double digits with thirteen and ten respectively. Austin Whitney, Oakley Obenauf, and Zaiden Phillips each had eight. Chase Geers put up seven, and Blake Rider and Mason Woodard had two apiece. The Tigers travel to Central Montcalm on Tuesday evening before returning home to face Big Rapids on Friday.
Photos and Story by Mike Gesler
Grant 64 Tri County 25
I could honestly cut and paste Grant’s game against Ravenna this past Tuesday evening to describe tonight’s game against the Vikings of Tri County. The first half was Tiger domination, and the second half was the Tigers using the game to work on improvements and giving all the girls time on the court.
“I think it was kind of a repeat of Tuesday,” Coach Delamater shared. “Not as fresh. Not as crisp. Whether it was tired legs, I mean a lot of things in this week. Three games. Exams this week for the girls. Half day today. So mentally we weren’t as crisp as we should have been. Rotation wasn’t as good as it could have been. I would love to see what our turnovers are because I think they're probably higher than what I would like them to be. But they battled really hard tonight.”
It took only a minute for Jayci Hance to get the Tigers going. The Tigers then sent Tri County’s Allison Johnson to the line who made one of two to get the Vikings on the board. Julie Ashbaugh extended Grant’s count to six before Tri County’s Haylee Dietz made it three for the Vikings. The Tigers would then go on a seventeen point terror. By the close of the first quarter, the Tigers held a twenty-two point margin over the Vikings.
Tri County had their best quarter in the second. Part of that was due to Ashbaugh running into foul trouble and sitting for the remainder of the half. The Vikings added ten to their total as the Tigers adjusted to not having Ashbaugh. Even without their top shooter, a timely three from Jocee Pleune and six from Jayci Hance helped the Tigers add twelve and go into the half with a comfortable twenty-four point margin.
With Ashbaugh back in the game for the third, the Tigers reestablished their dominance which gave them ample opportunity to rotate girls in and improve on aspects of their game that will be needed as they face the upper half of the CSAA and into District play.
“They definitely set the pace for the entire game,” stated Coach Delamater. “They definitely set the tempo very, very early that we were going to get up and down the floor and they were going to have to run with us if they wanted to do anything. Even though we didn’t get the turnovers off the press like we normally got, I still thought in half court our defense was pretty good. Everybody rotated in tonight. Some girls gave us good minutes at times. Emma Thompson continues to get better every game in her inside game which is something that we’re really looking for is somebody who can do that. It was nice to see Alexa Obenauf come out tonight and hit a shot. Jocee Pleune played some better offense tonight than we’ve seen from her. We’re really pushing her to get going more on offense. I’m happy with what we saw tonight with all the circumstances surrounding that.”
Julie Ashbaugh and Jayci Hance were both in double digits for the Tigers tonight with eighteen and thirteen respectively. Makalya Zerlaut helped out with eight and Jocee Pleune added six. Danica Gee, Alexa Obenauf, and Reese Gragg each had four tonight. The Tigers will be tested this coming week that could set the stage for an interesting CSAA showdown. They will first travel to Central Montcalm for a Tuesday evening match up before returning home to face Big Rapids on Friday.