Lions also move into District Finals
Hesperia 41 White Cloud 38
The Panthers have had a tough year to say the least. Their numbers were low and as a result they have finished games with four players and struggled to score all season . They lost all 19 games they played going into tournament play with 8 of those losses by more than 30 points.
So when tournament play began for them Wednesday and they found themselves in a 13-0 hole to begin the game it looked like their season was mercifully over.
Not so fast.
Coach Doug Bolles has kept this team together all season encouraging them and believing in them and Wednesday it paid off.
“The Panthers never quit! We battled back by digging deep and playing our hearts out on defense! We could have easily quit... that’s probably what most 0-19 teams down 0-13 to start the game would do... but NOT my guys!
They’ve battled through adversity all season and tonight was no exception, but tonight was different... We didn’t want the season to end without a win! We wanted to experience MARCH MADNESS! Tonight we did, I’m so proud of MY guys!
This is awesome!!!
We’re playing in the district finals on Friday night, WOW!!!
Nobody gave us a chance but US!
I love these guys, and I am proud to be a Panther!”
Jacob Klemundt canned 11 of his 15 points in the 4th quarter including a trio of triples and 2-2 from the line to seal the win.
Ashton Arnold knocked down 8 points to go with his 8 boards.
“We had solid play for all six guys who played tonight,”added Coach Bolles citing the contributions of Kaiden Robbins, Jonathan Castillo, Logan Balkema and Johnny Segura.
Hesperia faces Hart in the District Final Friday beginning at 7pm at Hart.
Newaygo 55 Sparta 52
The Lions defeated Sparta on the Spartan home court to move into Friday’s district final. They wwll face Coopersville who defeated Comstock Park in their semi final game.
Hart 42 Holton 34
The Devils season came to an end with a loss to the host Pirates.
Olton finishes the season at an even 10-10 mark.
Newaygo 70 Shepherd 49
Newaygo won its sixth game in a row behind a stellar performance by the Long sisters as Jaylee led all scorers firing in 27 points to go with 4 steals and 5 dimes while Jaxi canned 21 points and dished out a trio of assists.
The Lions held a 9 point advantage at intermission then opened it up in the third to build a 20 point gap over the Bluejays and cruise to the win.
Coach Thomasma: "Pretty good game overall for us. We shot the ball well and tightened up defensively in the second half and were able to create some easy points on the other end."
Emmerson Goodin had another strong night in the paint dropping in 9 points and snaring 6 off the glass.
Newaygo now 13-6 wll wrap up their regular season by hosting Whitehall Thursday at 7pm. The Vikings have sailed to 14 wins in their last 15 games. The Lions begin District Play Wednesday March 6th in Grant where they will face the winner of Fremont/Comstock Park
Fremont 53 Shelby 32
The Packers took a 12-7 lead after one but when early foul trouble sent some key players to bench the Tigers fought back to knot the score at 22 by intermission.
Then the Packer sharpshooters got into action with four different players canning it from distance to propel the visitors into a 12 point lead going into the final frame.
Coach Krim: “Torey Reichert-Slater had her best game of the year to lead us in the first quarter with 6 points going a perfect 3 for 3 from the field and finishing 4-4 for the game. We played some of our best basketball on both ends of the court in the 2nd half to put the game away.”
Calla Miller hit for a team high dozen points while Natalie Jamieson, Paige Vandenberg and Reichert-Slater dropped in 8 apiece. Avery Curnett fired in 6 points and Haley Zerlaut finished with 5.
Fremont wraps up their regular season with a 12-8 mark and will begin District play Monday when they travel to Grant to face the Panthers of Comstock Park (13-5). Game time 5:30pm
Grant 41 Manistee 35
The Tigers concluded their regular season at 12-8.
Grant will be the host team for District play and they open with a 7pm Monday matchup with the Broncos of Coopersville.
White Cloud 45 Hart 40
Ravenna 42 Holton 31
Hesperia 47 North Muskegon 40
Packers, Tigers Take an Early Bow
Panthers stun Fremont Spartans corral Grant
Photos by Alicia Jaimes
Comstock Park 67 Fremont 66 (OT)
The OK Blue is one tough conference.
Comstock Park came into the game having lost 8 of their last 9 finishing 5th in the conference.
Fremont arrived on a 17 game winning streak with a newly earned title and a deep and talented bench to go with a strong cast of starters.
The Packers fell behind early trailing 13-8 after one then a 9-0 run by the Panthers pushed the lead to as many as 16 before Fremont began their comeback led by Julian Echavarria who canned 7 points in the second. The teams went to break with the Packers down 27-24 but two minutes into the second half they captured the lead and held it by 7 points with 2 minutes left..
But the Panthers weren’t done. They scrapped their way back to within 3 then Chanse Crittendon ripped a triple off a turnover to send it into overtime where the Panthers would prevail at the charity stripe hitting 7 of 9 to ice the win and move on to play Coopersville.
Calvin Miller led the scoring for Fremont with 21, Julian Echavarria finished with 12, Carter Moon notched 11 and Logan Karnemaat dropped in 9.
“It was a heartbreaking way to end the season,” said Coach Zerfas.
Sparta 67 Grant 56
In the opening game Conner Wist and Chase Wilson proved to be too much offense for the Tigers as each fired in 24 points. The Tigers fell behind 18-10nin the first quarter then came back behind a pair of threes by Connor Vanderwilt with Carter Chase and Seth Schuitema also hitting from distance and by halftime the Spartan margin was 4.
The second half saw the host team produce enough offense to hold off the Tigers and Wilson and Wist knocked down 7 of 8 at the line to seal the deal as time ran out on Grant.
Vanderwilt finished with a game high 25 points including a quintet of triples while Chase, Schuitema and Brett Long finished with 7 apiece, Diesel Rose hit for 6 and Elliot Butchart added 4.
Sparta will face Newaygo on Wednesday at 5:30pm.
Tigers, Packers open District play Monday; Lions, Vikes, Devils, Cloud and Panthers start Wednesday
By Ken DeLaat
Three teams from the OK Blue mix it up with three from the CSAA Gold in Sparta beginning Monday. Both leagues had dominant teams with Catholic Central (12-0, 18-2) ruling the Blue and Fremont (11-1, 19-1) taking the Gold. While Grant and Fremont play openers Newaygo will wait along with Coopersville to see who will emerge as their opponents. Should Grant defeat the host Spartans a third and rubber match between the Tigers and Lions would be a fun one to watch particularly if the winner would be facing the Packers for the third time as well, this time with a title on the line.
In Hart White Cloud and Hesperia will do battle Wednesday to see who plays in the final. The Cloud has won 4 games this season, two of them against the Panthers. Though getting a win has eluded them Hesperia’s depleted team deserves a lot of credit for sticking it out during a really tough season. The closest they have come to winning?
The last time they faced the Indians.
Holton has swept past both of those teams this season going 4-0. Should they survive a game against the Hart /Shelby winner they would be playing either the Panthers or Indians for the title and the Red Devils hoopsters could join their gridders in adding to the trophy case this year.
Hart has won 10 games this season and Shelby has won 2. This, however is one of those rivalry games where stats and standings go out the window. In their two previous contests this season the Pirates survived on the road in overtime then squeaked out a 1 point win at home
:Grant (7-7, 11-9) vs Sparta (2-10, 8-11 5:30pm Monday
When Sparta defeated a still developing Tiger team in mid December it was their 5th win in 6 games to start the season. They followed up by opening conference play with a win over Spring Lake then lost 10 of their next 11 games in the Blue.
Grant is a much better team than they were then but when they aren’t hitting from outside early they can get in trouble. Good teams can make quick runs as the BR team did on Friday, but the Spartans aren’t likely to have that kind of offensive firepower. They haven’t scored more than 60 in almost three months so if the Tigers can light it up a bit they could be moving on.
Fremont (11-1, 19-1) vs. Comstock Park (3-8, 5-12) Monday following Grant/Sparta game
The Panthers are 5-12 and haven’t beaten a team with a winning record all season.
The Packers have one loss, an early road stumble that sparked the current 17 game winning streak.
Fremont wants to play at home again this season and the only way to do that is to win this district. Should they get past CP they would face a Coopersville team that has struggled against some of the better teams they’ve faced. Teams like the Packers.
Newaygo will play Grant/CP winner Wednesday at 5:30pm.
Tri County will begin District play Wednesday in Belding facing the winner of Monday’s contest between Central Montcalm and the host Black Knights.The game will follow the 5:30pm Alma/Shepherd opener.
White Cloud and Hesperia face off Wednesday (5:30pm) in the Hart District and the same day Holton will see the winner of Monday’s Hart/Shelby matchup (following the Hesperia/WC game)
Scramble For Second Knots 4 Teams
Vikings, Packers, Lions and Tigers finish 9-5 in Gold.
By N3 Sports Team
“What a race for 2nd place,” said Packer Coach John Krim. “There were so many close games for us this season.”
As there were so many close games among the quartet of teams who spent the season beating up on each other only to finish in a dead heat for the runner-up prize. Yes that’s right, the race was pretty much for second place with the steamrolling Hornets of Central Montcalm improving on an already dominant team as the season progressed. Their team was challenged just twice. A 5 point win over Grant in game 2 of the season and a 2 point squeaker over Independent powerhouse Arbor Prep.Other than those two games were likely to be all but over by halftime.
The four teams behind the Hornets jockeyed around and down the stretch Fremont and Tri County lost 2 of 3, Grant won 3 out of their last 4 and Newaygo charged from behind winning their last 5 to catch the trio of teams ahead of them.
After next week it will be tournament time and three of the four runner-ups could meet again in the Grant District where the Tigers will be hosting the Packers and Lions as well as the Coopersville and Comstock Park squads.
Tri County, the 4th team sharing second will be taking their tournament show on the road to Shepherd where, should they manage to get past a soaring Alma team and the host Blue Jays,they are likely to be facing a familiar foe in the finals.
Newaygo 42 Reed City 27
When Jaylee Long canned her 7th triple of the night for the Lions to break a long standing school record for three pointers in a single game the previous record holder was there to witness it.
After all in doing so she broke the family record as well since it was her Mom Julie Long (nee Ottinger) who set the mark that has been in the books for since 1993 or just a tad over a quarter century.
Jaylee finished with 8 of those long distance missiles and a game high 27 points as Newaygo pushed their way into the logjam that is second place in the Gold with a convincing win over the Coyotes on the road. It was the 5th straight win for the Lion team as they finished with a 9-5 conference mark and a 12-6 record for the season.
Coach Thomasma: "It definitely wasn't our best performance but the girls gutted out the victory. It was our 6th game in two weeks so we looked a bit tired. We were not sharp on offense but we played good team defense which helped us win the game.
"Jaylee was lights out in on offense tonight. It was a great performance."
Fremont 44 Chippewa Hills 35
The Packers laid claim to their share of second place as they survived early foul trouble to halt a 3 game skid with a win over the Warriors.
“Our bench play was very important for us tonight,” said Coach Krim
Haley Zerlaut stepped up big for the visitors emerging off the bench to fire in 9 first half points to help the Pack take a 13 point lead at the break. The Warriors battled back in the second half but Fremont was able to hold back the effort and come away with a tough road win.
Natalie Jamieson had the hot hand knocking down 16 points while Paige Vandenberg ruled the glass once again pulling down 15 boards and rejectingnantrio of Warrior shots in the process. Zerlaut finished with 11 points on the night.
The Packers finish the conference season with a 9-5 mark and now stand 11-8 overall.
White Cloud 48 Lakeview 30
The Cloud traveled to Lakeview with a lot on the line. The Indians needed a victory to secure a share of 2nd place in the Silver along with Morley Stanwood. Kent City won the title with a perfect 10-0 league mark..The visitors overcame a hostile environment and an oversized front line to post their 7th conference win against 3 losses with a 12-4 record on the season.
Lakeview played a box and one on Hannah Brown, but that didn’t hold her. She led the Indians with 22 points, 6 assists, and 5 steals. Alexis Strait added 10 points and 5 steals. Cassie Watson was a beast on the glass with 10 rebounds. Jemi Perrin added a couple big threes and finished with 6 points.
Grant 43 Big Rapids 28
The Tigers needed a win to take their share of second in the Gold and they got it on the road against the Cards. Grant completed a 9-5 season in league play and is now 11-8 overall.
CM 66 Tri County 25
The Hornets rolled to their 18th straight win using their smothering defense to take control of the game. The loss dropped the Vikes into a 4 way tie for second as the teams completed conference play.
Morley Stanwood 58 Hesperia 45
Kent City 73 Holton 26
Packers Tuned For Tourney; Lions, Tigers, Panthers Caged; Devils, Vikes, Cloud Fall Short
Boys finish regular season. Tournament play begins Monday.
Fremont 68 Chippewa Hills 23
The Packers looked primed for postseason as they took control early amassing a 41-9 lead by the time the teams hit intermission. Two minutes into the third a 40 point lead forced a running clock and the visitors cruised to their 17th straight victory.
Jaxx Miller recorded 10 steals for the Sparta bound Packers while Christian Kennedy dropped a dozen points, Joshua Zerfas hit for 11 and Calvin Miller added 9.
Reed City 77 Newaygo 55
When the Coyote offense is hitting from beyond the arc they can rain down the points and Friday their sharpshooters were on target early as they fired their way to a 22-13 lead after one and never allowed the Lions back in the game.
It was the third straight loss for Newaygo who finished the regular season at 7-7 in the Gold and 10-9 overall.
“We have to move past tonight,” said Lion Coach Joe Barrette.” We have to buy in to every team being 0-0 next week.”
Big Rapids 56 Grant 35
The Cardinals have really taken flight since stumbling a bit out of the blocks this season. Facing another late blooming team with Grant in town BR exploded for a 10-0 lead to open and held back a couple of Tiger charges to keep the 10 point difference at the half.
The Cardinal ability to score in bunches kept their visitors at bay as did their defensive efforts on Carter Chase who finished with 5 points. Connor Vanderwilt canned 14 for the Tigers who finish regular season play with a 7-7 mark in the Gold and 11-9 overall.
Big Rapids has now won 10 of their last 11 and taken second place in the Gold at 10-4 (13-6 overall).
Morley Stanwood 67 Hesperia 32
The Silver champs rained down 17 triples in their win over the Panthers.
Logan Balkema scored 8 points for Hesperia and Kaiden Robbins notched 7.
Balkema also had 12 rebounds to pace the Panthers on the boards.
Kent City 63 Holton 48
The Red Devils grabbed an early lead and kept pace with the Eagles as the teams reached the break tied at 21. The second half however saw the KC offense heat up and they began to build the lead that would bring them the win.
Aidan Poling fired in a game high 17 points for the Devils who finish their regular season tied with the Eagles for second in the Silver at 7-3 and 10-9 overall.
Shawn Anderson fired in 15 for the Eagles with Eli Carlson adding 11
Central Montcalm 84 Tri County 39
Lakeview 71 White Cloud 47
Watch for our tournament preview-N3
Tuesday, Wednesday Hoop Action
Whitehall 35 Fremont 32
The Packers had dug themselves into a deep first quarter hole as the offense sputtered while the Vikings built an 11 point lead. The team regrouped and began to grind their way back into the game slowly closing ground on the WMC title contenders until Avery Curnett canned one from distance to tie the game with just 12 seconds left. It looked like overtime until Whitehall sharpshooter Kacy Jeffries answered Curnett’s triple with a three pointer of her own to close out the contest as time expired and send the Vikings home with a win.
Coach Krim: “Another close one that mirrored our game last night at Tri-County. We fought hard in both games but just couldn't get over the hump.
“Our defense really amped up the pressure and intensity in the the 2nd quarter and even though we only cut a little into the lead, the momentum carried into the 2nd half. Whitehall is also a good defensive team so we could never put a big run together.”
It was the third time in a row the Packers have lost by 4 points or less.
Calla Miller led a balanced scoring attack with 7 Curnett and Chloe Shriver finished with 6 and Paige Vandenberg dropped in 5 while leading the team on the glass with 11 boards.
Jeffries had a game high 11 for Whitehall.
White Cloud 36 Ravenna 17
The Cloud rolled to their 4th straight win overcoming an erratic shooting night with a defensive effort that silenced the Bulldog offense.
Hannah Brown hit for 16 points and dished out 5 dimes and Cassie Watson took down 6 boards and cored 5. Alexis Strai knocked down 9 points and pilfered 3 steals on defense
Newaygo 47 Grant 39
The Tigers were at home and holding a slim one point lead heading into the final frame but the Lions caught fire and outscored their hosts 15-6 to secure the win and put themselves in contention for a share of second in the Gold.
Coach Thomasma: "Really proud of the girls tonight. We fell behind in each of the first three quarters of the game and continued to fight back when we could have bagged it. It was a good win tonight on the road against a well coached team that plays good basketball."
Jaxi Long led the Lions hitting for 12 points,snaring 8 rebounds and dishing 4 assists while Jaylee Long fired in 10 points and Sophia Frisbie and Emmerson Goodin each notched 9.
Cece Male led the Tigers with 17 points.
Fremont 62 Orchard View 46
Led by Calvin Miller’s 14 first half points the Packers built a 40-424 lead by intermission and held back the Cardinals for their 16th consecutive win.
Coach Zerfas:” I thought our 10 man rotation really did a great job keeping us fresh late in the game. This is a big win on the road vs a very good and well coached team. Nick Bronsema has done a great job turning the orchard view program into a winner and this is a quality road win for us leading up to districts.”
Logan Karnemaat paced the scoring dropping in 17, Calvin Miller finished with 16 and Braiden McDonald fired in 15.
Noah Christensen hit for a half dozen points while Joshua Zerfas tallied 7 assists and Carter Moon added 5 assists 4 points and 3 steals for the streaking Packers.
Lakeview 64 Hesperia 46
The Panthers haven’t notched a win all year but they have impressed their coach with their grit and determination through a challenging season.
Coach Bolles: “It’s the best offensive game we’ve played all year. Logan Balkema had a great game for us scoring 24 points and hauling down 12 rebounds and Jacob Klemundt also played his usual all around solid game with 15 points, 4 assists and 5 steals.
Proud of my guys for fighting through the adversity of a winless season, while giving me all they’ve go.”
Fremont 73 Tri County 40
The Packers blew the game open early with a dominating 24-5 first quarter and a 28 point lead by intermission.
Logan Karnemaat canned a game high 22 points in only 10 minutes of playing time.
Tristan Campbell had a career high 12 points to go with his 8 rebounds, Julian Echavarria hit 8 and Noah Christensen scored 7. Joshua Zerfas dished 9 assists on the night.
Grant 58 Newaygo 48
.Seniors Connor VanderWilt and David Jaimes playing in their final home game helped the Tigers shake off that tough overtime loss last Friday to get back on track with a win over the Lions
Down 4 at half and tied at the end of the 3rd, the Tigers finally got the lead in the 4th quarter and made 10 of 11 free throws to close out the game.
“Grant executed down the stretch better than we did,” aid Lion Coach Joe Barrette.
The Tigers balanced scoring attack was led by Seth Schuitema with 14, followed by Carter Chase with 12 and Diesel Rose with 10. Brett Long and Connor VanderWilt added 9 apiece.
Connor Swinehart fired in a game high 32 points for the Lions and Ryan Brummel knocked down 11.
Ravenna 74 White Cloud 35
Steven Holt had 11 points and Chance Montemayor added 7 as the Indians fell to the Bulldogs.
Lion Teams Split In BR
Swinehart reaches four figures in loss to Cardinals
Big Rapids 49 Newaygo 44
Monday night the Newaygo teams traveled to Big Rapids and split their games.
The Boys squad ran into a Cardinal team that has caught fire in the second half of the season and did the same in the second half of this game.
Trailing by 5 at the break the Cards fired off a 16-2 run in the third and held off a furious Lion attack in the final frame to earn their 8th win in the last 9 games.
Coach Barrette: “We played a bad 3rd quarter giving up a lead we had built and having to play catch up late. We tied the game with around 1:30 left, but missed some opportunities down the stretch.”
Connor Swinehart canned a team high 20 points and in doing so eclipsed the 1000 point mark for his career an accomplishment shared by the names found in the Lion trophy case.
Ryan Brummel continues to have a hot hand as he drained 15 for the visitors.
Newaygo 56 Big Rapids 35
The Newaygo girls team ran their winning streak to 3 behind another stat sheet stuffing performance by Jaylee Long who tallied 13 points 4 assists and 4 rebounds while playing some stifling defense.
The Lions ran to a 17-6 lead after one and never looked back. Emmerson Goodin continues to show what a force she can be in the paint as she took a dozen off the glass to go with her 8 points. Lily Ruehmeier fired in 12 points and the always steady play of Sophia Frisbie resulted in 6 assists 6 points and 5 rebounds.
Coach Thomasma:"I thought tonight was one of our most complete games of the year. We really played well as a team tonight. We shot the ball well, rebounded and played good defense."
The win gives Newaygo 10 on the season against 6 losses and their 7-5 conference mark makes them one of four teams within a game of each other in the race for second place in the Gold.
Tigers, Pack play it close again with different result
Grant 38 Fremont 34
The last time these two teams met fans witnessed a back and forth donnybrook requiring overtime to decide the outcome. When the final buzzer sounded the Packers had the win on the home court of Grant.
This time around the Tigers returned the favor, emerging on top in another close matchup and scrambling the race for second place in the Gold.
The Tigers seem to frequently find their way to the charity stripe where they rarely fail to convert and the 4th quarter saw them can 8 of their 10 attempts to ice the win, including a perfect 4-4 off the hands of Jayna Hance.
Grant Coach Paige Paulson:
“I thought it was a great game plan by both teams. We jumped out to an early 9 to 0 zero lead but Fremont stayed within themselves. We struggled to score from that point but also played some tough defense.”
The teams played to a 13-13 tie at intermission and battled back and forth with the Tigers holding off their hosts in the final frame.
“In the 4th quarter there was great execution by the girls,” added Coach Paulson. “We controlled the ball, made free throws, played defense, and rebounded. It was a well deserved win for the team.”
Nicole Whan dropped in a team high 14 for Grant including hitting 6-8 from the line while Calla Miller paced the Packer attack also knocking down 14. Paige Vandenberg fired in 10 for Fremont who fall to 8-4 (10-6 overall)in conference play. Grant moves to 7-4 (9-7) in the Gold.
With the Newaygo (6-5, 9-6) win over Tri County (8-4, 11-5) four team are now separated by one game in the loss column in the fight for second place. The top spot has already been claimed by one of the state’s premier teams, the undefeated Hornets of Central Montcalm.
Vikings force Lions into extra frame
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
The Vikings hadn’t won a conference game all season and a month ago the Lions had handled them on the TC home court.
But that wasn’t the team that showed up Friday night in the Den.
The Lions sprinted out to an 11-2 lead behind baskets by Connor Swinehart, Ryan Brummel and Noah Cantu. TC put on a run of their own behind Cameron Friend Nick Poprawski and Tristen Knox to tie the game at 13. Cantu got to the line and dropped a pair and the first period ended with the Lions on top 15-13.
Poprawski nailed a three to start the second and give TC their first lead of the night. Newaygo edged ahead behind scores by Brummel and Kade Bhuyan then Bryce Hallman fired inn a triple that was answered by an 8-0 run by the hosts. Nick Braunschneider stopped the bleeding but two in a row by Carlos Magana stretched the Lion lead to 9 that was trimmed to 7 by intermission.
Enter Collin Kirkwood who scored and dished his team to a tie late in the third before Cantu and Swinehart put some distance to end the quarter with Newaygo holding a 6 point lead.
Heading into the 4th the Vikings still had a lot of fight left and Poprawski canned a pair of triples to pull TC ahead by a point. Brummel scored to put Newaygo in front then Hallman did the same for TC with Friend adding a shot and suddenly the Vikes were up by 4 and Swinehart the heart and soul of the Lions team had picked up his 4th foul.
Three minutes were left after a Hallman bucket pushed the lead to 6 then Brummel unleashed a three. The teams battled to a 66 tie when Poprawski zipped one from the arc and TC held a 3 point lead with under a minute left.
Brummel stepped up huge when he nailed a clutch 3 pointer that tied the game and 40 seconds later the teams went to overtime.
In the extra frame Cantu popped in two quick triples and the Lions kept the Vikes at bay for the hard fought win.
Newaygo Coach Barrette: “Great win for our Seniors on their last game in our home gym. TC played extremely hard and took us out of some things we wanted to do. Ryan Brummel and Noah Cantu were special down the stretch getting us to overtime then putting it away in the final 4 minutes.”
Cantu finished with 25 points including 10 in overtime while grabbing 9 rebounds Brummel hit on 10 of his 11 shots to tally 22. Swinehart canned 20 and Bhuyan snatched 5 steals and dished out 6 assists.
Poprawski nailed 5 triples as part of his 23 points, Hallman hit for 18, Friend Finished with 11 and Braunschneider added 9.