If you love the sights and sounds of basketball being played in our local gyms you also are aware of the hard work and perseverance that goes into wearing those unis on winter evenings.
Whether a starter, a role player or one of the players who primarily provide preparation during practices, these cagers all need to be recognized for their efforts.
N3 will be selecting a Player of the Week from both the Girls and Boys teams. Whether nominated by a coach or chosen by our contributors we will strive to highlight some of the hoop heroics that fill those local gyms we mentioned.
This week's honorees:
Aidan Poling, Holton
The Red Devils are having themselves quite the season and Poling is the heart of this team putting up numbers while slapping down some tough defense. His high teens scoring average took a hit in their last game when he finished with just 13 points but they were all scored in the first quarter in a rout that saw him give way to the bench players.
Coach Keith Swanson: "Aidan is an absolute talent. A selfless player who leads our team in every way imaginable on and off the court. Some college would be incredible smart to give him some money to play basketball for them next year.”
Calla Miller, Fremont
When Miller first hit the floor as a freshman what struck us the most was her confidence. If she was nervous it didn’t show and hasn’t since. She plays with a sense of fearlessness and she makes the players around her better.
Calla's 10 points down the stretch iced their recent win over Reed City.
Coach Zerlaut: “Calla gives great effort on both ends of the floor in games, as well as in practice. She leads us in many statistical categories, but also leads by example in how she plays the game. She is a fierce competitor that leaves everything she has got on the court.”
Thome notches #100 on a pin as Pack barely edged by state ranked CH
The Fremont Packers were at Chippewa Hills for their first night of CSAA Conference competition.
The first dual was against the Grant Tigers, and the Packers won 57-10. Posting victories were:
Cody Visscher, RJ Thome, Tee Ward, Eli Beasley, Braulio Gomez, Trey Myers, Gage Montague,
Matt Lucas, Jager Kibart, Trey Breuker and Michael Romero.
Next up for the Packers were the Vikings of Tri-County. The Packers won 10 of the 14 weight classes and came away with a victory of 60-19. Winners were: Thome, Ward, Beasley, Daniel Romero, Myers, Alex Gleason, Kibart, Breuker, M. Romero and Colby Wright.
The final showdown of the night was against state-ranked Chippewa Hills. It was a tough battle with both teams winning 7 weight classes apiece, but the Warriors of Chip Hills edged the Packers 34-33. The 7 Packers that won were: Ward, Beasley, D. Romero, Montague, Kibart, Breuker and Thome.
The highlight of the evening was RJ Thome (103) winning his 100th career victory against Robert VanVleet of Chippewa Hills with a pin in 27 seconds.
Devs keep it going; Lions, Tigers, Pack post wins; Eagles outlast Cloud
WC/KC photos by Sue Harrison
Holton 69 Hesperia 21
Holton made it 6 straight while maintaining a stranglehold on the top spot in the Silver as they visited their rivals from the north and game away with a resounding victory over the Panthers.
Coach Swanson: ”I’m pleased with how the guys came out focused and aggressive.”
Coach Worcester: “We had a hard time defending the perimeter against Holton tonight; they put up 9 three pointers tonight. We improved tremendously on breaking the press tonight, however we still need improvement on shooting and capitalizing on our shot opportunities. Turnovers still remain an issue but we will continue to stress fundamentals and patients on the offense of end instead of rushing..”
Aidan Poling dropped in 13 points before taking a seat after one and Bret Hosmer hit for a game high 18.
Austin Fowler and Carter Brant each hit for 9 while Kevin Erickson and Brodrick Fialek finished with 8 apiece. Erickson added 9 boards and 4 steals and Fowler collected 4 rebounds and also tallied 4 steals.
Holton (5-0, 8-1) will visit Lakeview Tuesday as they embark on the second half of their conference schedule. Hesperia (0-5, 0-7) will visit Kent City.
Newaygo 58 Chip Hills 51
In a back and forth battle on the road the Lions managed to pull away at the end for the win led by a trio of players reaching double figures in scoring. Ashton Stephens canned 17 points, Bryce Decker dropped in 14 and Wyatt Mortensen added another 10 as Newaygo won their second straight and evened their conference mark at 3-3
Stephens filled the stat sheet adding 13 boards and a half dozen assists to his points.
Hayden Mackenna was a demon on defense creating 3 steals and forcing the tempo.
Coach Long: "The team played hard and responded well to the pressure from Chippewa Hills. I thought tonight was a team win as everyone contributed."
Newaygo (3-3, 3-4) continues conference play Monday when they travel to Tri County Monday to take on the Vikings.
Grant 74 Central Montcalm 68
The Tigers took a 10 point lead after one and had their hosts down 37-20 by intermission enroute to the conference win
Coach Schuitema: “ Balanced scoring with 8 players contributing and solid defense for 3 quarters were the keys to the game.”
Seth Schuitema paced the Tigers with 28 points , followed by Gage Burrows who hit for 13. Cole Lesley and Brett Long added 9 points each.
Grant (4-2, 4-4) was to face Chip Hills Saturday before a Monday rematch with conference co-leader Fremont Monday.
Fremont 64 Reed City 37
The Packers notched their 6th straight win up in Reed City in a game that looked to be much closer.
Reed City has played down to the wire with every team and came into the contest with a 3-2 league record including delivering Big Rapids their only loss of the season. Fremont jumped out to a 16-6 lead after the first quarter and extended it to 40-21 at halftime behind very balanced scoring with 8 players entering the scoring column in the first half.
After the half the Pack built up a 27 point lead before Reed City scored a few buckets to make it 51-31 entering the 4th.
That was the closest the Coyotes got for the remainder of the contest.
Braiden McDonald led a balanced scoring attack with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Jordon McDonald knocked down 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Joshua Zerfas finished with 7 points, 10 assists and 5 steals and Lane Converse added 9 points and 3 steals. Logan Nelson hit for 7 points and Chase Rasmussen scored 5.
Fremont (7-2, 6-12) will visit Grant Monday to take on the Tigers.
Kent City 53 White Cloud 41
The Cloud came out strong holding back the Eagles long enough to take a 4 point halftime edge into the locker room but the hosts came out of the break on a mission. The Eagles dominated the third holding their visitors to just 7 points while dropping 23 on them to take a 12 point lead, a margin that would hold up for the remainder of the contest
Kyler Larson led the KC offense with 16 points, Hayden Carlson finished with and Casen Armstrong knocked down 11.
White Cloud (2-3, 2-5) will visit Mason County Eastern on Monday.
Pack gets #2; Lions return the roar; An emotional night in Hespo; Tigers get stung; Eagles ‘Mag 7’ fly past Cloud
WC/KC photos by Sue Harrison
Fremont 52, Reed City 44
The Packers traveled to Reed City Friday night for a CSAA Gold matchup and cae away with their second win in a row. The Coyotes came out shooting the ball well, making two three pointers and going 5-10 from the free throw line in the first quarter to take a 13-11 lead after one. The Packers gave up three more triples in the second but scored 11 points of their own to knot the score at 22 at halftime.
In the second half Fremont turned up the defensive pressure to outscore Reed City 14-7 in the third quarter. The fourth turned out to feature a steady stream of trips to the charity stripe with both teams in the double bonus early on. The Packers went 12-22 and the Coyotes went 11-16 on free throws in that quarter alone giving Fremont a 16-15 point advantage and the win.
There were 70 free throws shot between the two teams for the game.
Coach Zerlaut -- "Credit to Reed City. They have been struggling to score points but they shot the ball better tonight and played very hard. They are a young team that is going to improve at a fast rate.
Haley Zerlaut stepped up big time canning 19 points and snaring 6 steals. Kaitlynn Bennett had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Calla Miller helped bring it home draining 10 of her 11 points in the final quarter.
Reed City was led by Demi Lodholtz's 17 points.
The win moves the Packers to 2-6, 2-5 in the conference. They play next at home on Monday vs. Grant, as they look to improve in the second half of the league schedule.
Hesperia 63 Holton 30
The Panthers took command early building an 18-3 lead after one and pushing their advantage to 20 points by the half. The Devs got some traction in the second half but by then the game was well in hand.
Coach Grodus: “An emotional win for Hesperia. Both teams wore pink shirts in honor of Rosa Johnson, who recently died of cancer. Rosa is the aunt of Hesperia player, Adriana Slater. Great sportsmanship on the part of both teams!
Emily Bayle had another huge night ripping down 16 boards to go with her game high 25 points.
Rachel Romero continues to come on strong for Hesperia firing in 14 points and Emmi Tinkham dished out 4 assists.
Hesperia (1-3, 2-3) ventures into Kent City Monday to face
Newaygo 65 Chippewa Hills 28
The Lions shook off their first defeat of the season coming back with a roar via a dominant conference win over CH.
Anna Brummel fired in a game high 19 points to lead the Lion attack while snatring 4 boards and delivering 3 assists while Emmerson Goodin ruled the glass with 14 rebounds to match her 14 points. Jaylee Long dished out a 6 pack of dimes and added 9 points. .
Coach Thomasma;"Started slowly tonight but really turned up the intensity in the second half. Kayla Fisk had a great third quarter on defense. I also thought our three bench players came in and provided a spark with their energy, defense and scoring."
Newaygo improves to 7-1 (6-0 in conference) while Chippewa Hills drops to 0-7 (0-6).
Kent City 54 White Cloud 14
The undefeated ‘Magnificent 7’’ who account for the entire Eagle squad have averaged a win margin of 50 points thus far this season. On Friday they continued to assert their command of the Silver division by blasting the visitors from White Cloud.
A 13-0 first period set the stage for a game that put on display one of the premier teams in the region.
Kenzie Bowers led the Eagles offense dropping inv14, followed closely by Lexie Bowers who hit for 13 .Jenna Harrison picked up 5 assists to go with her 5 points.
Kent City (8-0,4-0) was to play Covenant Christaian Saturday on the Charger home court.
White Cloud (4-3, 3-2) will visit Walkerville on Monday..
CM 48 Grant 31
The Gold might be led by the Cards and Lions but the Hornets are buzzing around as they picked up their 4th win in a row over the visiting Tigers and are lurking behind the two top teams anticipating rematches with both.
Emily Putnampaced the CM offense with 14 points while Courtney Guelzo and Brielle Collins hit for 9 each.
Grant (2-6, 2-4) will look to snap their 4 game skid Saturday when they visit winless Chippewa Hills.
By Ken De Laat, N3 Sports
Lots of basketball these days as teams cram in games to replace the December and January contests that were missed and now the smoke is beginning to clear a bit when it comes to the conference races.
Girls-In the Gold the Lions and Cards have separated a bit from the rest of the league and are heading for a showdown a week from Monday in BR. In the Silver Kent City has been blowing teams out of the gym with their high octane offense. Morley is tied for first and White Cloud has just one loss but until someone proves us wrong the path to the title will run through Kent City.
Boys- the Packers and Cardinals sit atop the Gold with the Hornets and Tigers a game back and playing Friday to see who stays in the race for now. The Red Devils have taken charge in the Silver and a win Friday would mean a first half of the season sweep of the Silver teams.
Don’t forget you can stream your favorite team. Here’s how:
Grant at Central Montcalm
The Hornets have won 3 in a row after opening with losses to BR and Newaygo. Grant has won a couple games but has fallen short against the better teams.
The Hornets are one of those ‘better’ teams and are coming off a double digit win over a tough Viking squad.
CM is a tough venue but the crowd will be limited. Still,to grab this one the Tigers will likely have to get some season-best games from a few players.
Newaygo at Chip Hills
Offense struggling? Then look for CH on your schedule. The Warriors are yielding over 55 a game while yet to reach the 40 mark.
Not that the Lions need much offensive help. This is a team that grinds down opponents with a wealth of weapons and they will come out ready after a tough loss to a really good Portland team, their first setback of the season.
It’s a long ride to Remus but the trip home looks to be on the upbeat side
Fremont at Reed City
After opening at home with conference powerhouses Newaygo and BR the Packers hit the road for 4 straight before getting a game at home and a visit from the equally winless Warriors a combination resulting in that elusive first W
This one should help as well. The Coyotes can’t put the ball in the basket and they can’t stop their opponents from filling up theirs.. It’s another away game and the Reed City gym is always a challenge but the Pack has a good shot at making it two in a row here.
Holton at Hesperia
To their credit the Red Devils regrouped after being shell shocked by Kent City and found a little offense. They’re mostly young and improving as the season progresses. The Panthers have a trio of players that can hurt teams but they need to stay away from the ‘one bad quarter’ syndrome that has plagued them early on.
White Cloud at Kent City
No doubt the Cloud will give them a game and leave it all on the floor but Kent City is a team loaded with talent and flooding the nets with over 75 points a game. If you’re streaming games tune into this one if only to see which of the Eagle sharpshooters WC defender extraordinaire Scarlavai will draw.
Newaygo at Chippewa Hills
The Warriors are winless but they have improved and came close to knocking off a strong BR team last week at home. The Lions have been a bit up and down scoring as many as 73 and as few as 31 but that was a big win in Reed City and could build Newaygo’s confidence going forward particularly for their younger players like Decker and Long.
Fremont at Reed City
Coach Zerfas probably doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of games up in Coyote Country where strong Packer teams have been ambushed in the past. This season Fremont brings in a 5 game winning streak and a share of the Gold lead forged by a combination of veterans and youth who replaced height underneath with quickness and guile.
The ‘Yotes are the only team to deliver a loss to co-leading BR and the Cards beat the Pack, but that was the opener.
And there’s been a lot of basketball since then.
Holton at Hesperia
The Red Devils are having a season and the Panthers are struggling. Hesperia’s highest offensive output so far is 34 points and they’re averaging around 22.
It won’t be enough to keep the Devs from making it 6 in a row.
Grant at Central Montcalm.
The Hornets have lost 4 in a row and the Tigers have dropped 4 of their last 5.
The Tigers looked good in the win over Newaygo last week and their two losses since came against pretty solid teams. Tough one to call but I think the Tigers are more likely to have success down the road and that road starts here,
White Cloud at Kent City.
This isn’t a dominant Eagle team but they are pretty good if a bit inconsistent.
The 2 teams have combined for 5 wins. Four of those wins came over teams who are still winless. The Nest is a tough place to play so the Cloud can’t afford to let the Eagles jump out to an early lead.
Yes, More Hoops: Panthers Off The Schneid; Devs Drop a Close One; Lions Streak Ends; Vikes Sink Cloud
Hesperia 60 Walkerville 47
Hesperia was facing a Wildcat team that had already notched 3 wins, were battling Marion for the top spot in the West Michigan D League and averaged over 50 points in those three wins.
With just 3 games under their belt the Panthers were searching for a little upgrade on their offensive performance The team needed a win and to get that elusive #1 they would need more than the 26 points they’ve averaged thus far.
And they got them.
Emily Bayle with 22 points was one of a red hot trio of Panther players who shot their way into double figures Emmi Tinkham fired in 18 and Rachel Romero hit for 12.
Bayle also pulled down a dozen off the glass and snared 7 steals while Tinkham notched 11 boards on the stat sheet. Romero dished out a team high 4 assists.
Coach Grodus: “ We played well against a good team. It was a scrappy game the whole way.”
Hesperia (0-3, 1-3) hosts their Maple Island rivals from Holton Friday
Wellspring Prep 33 Holton 29.
The Red Devils went on the road to take on the Wolves and fell just short in the non-con matchup.
Ryann Robins and Madi Bosset continue to shine for the Devs scoring 9 and 7 points respectively.
Holton (1-3, 2-5) goes north Friday returning to conference play against Hesperia
Portland 38 Newaygo 33
Jaylee Long led the Lions in scoring with 13 points. Kayla Fisk played a great all around game with 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks and 6 deflections. Emmerson Goodin battled for 8 rebounds.
Coach Thomasma: "Overall a very competitive game. We never got into a good flow offensively against a good Portland team. We knew going down there we were going to have to play well to get a W , but we just didn't play good enough to get it done. No excuses. Credit to them, they are an experienced, talented and well coached basketball team."
Newaygo drops to 6-1. Portland improves to 5-1.
Tri-County 51 White Cloud 40
Coach Jones:”Definitely our worst performance of the year. We got outplayed in every aspect of the game tonight. Mason Reuther and Donovan Stevens led the way with nine points each and Dexter Cox added eight points.
“We look to play better on Friday night at Kent City.”
Newaygo 59 Reed City 57
In a tightly contested battle up in Coyote country with the score tied and seconds remaining Wyatt Mortenson drove inside and let loose a floater that found net and gave the Lions the win.
Coach Long: "This was a fun game to be part of. Both teams worked hard and made each other work for every basket."
The game was back and forth throughout with many lead changes and a furious run to the finish.
Bryce Decker 23 points poured in 23 points to pace the Lions offense, Mortensen finished with 14 and freshman Josiah Long also reached double figures knocking down 10.
Newaygo (2-4, 2-3) will board the bus for a trip to Remus Friday night to face Chippewa Hills
Fremont 65 Chippewa Hills 53
Four games in 5 days? No problem.
The Packers won their 5th straight game, the final leg of a packed schedule that saw them travel to Howard City, Stanton and Remus with a home game sandwiched in between.
“ You could really tell our kids legs were not there as everything we shot from the outside and many of our free throws were short. I'm proud of our kids though, they continue to play with players out and just find a way to gut out wins.”
“We took a slim lead into the 4th, 44-40 and Chippewa Hills even tied it up 47-47 at one point, but we were able to bear down defensively and outscored them 19-6 in the last 4 minutes.”
Payton Mansfield, playing his first game in 10 days was a huge boost off the bench with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Braiden McDonald led the team with 23 points and 10 rebounds, Jordon McDonald had 13 points and 8 rebounds and Joshua Zerfas scored all 6 of his points in the last 4 minutes after the game was tied up to go with 7 assists and 6 steals.
The Packers (6-2, 5-1) sit atop the Gold a half game ahead of Big Rapids and get a couple days to catch their breath before heading to Reed City Friday to face the Coyotes.
Big Rapids 57 Grant 43
White Cloud 59 Mason County Eastern 25
The White Cloud Indians hosted Mason County Eastern for a non conference battle last night. White Cloud came out blazing early and often to capture the win over the visiting Cardinals The Indians were led by sharp shooter Alexis Strait with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Carsyn Scarlavai ripped the nets for 15 points and 4 steals. Naomi Thompson chipped in 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals.
White Cloud (4-2, 3-1) travels to Kent City Friday to take on the undefeated powerhouse Eagle squad.
Big Rapids 52 Grant 26
Newaygo 64 Reed City 12
The Lions keep rolling.
Tuesday’s win over Reed City made it 6 in a row for Newaygo as they ran away from the Coyotes at home.
Coach Thomasma: "The girls played a solid game tonight. We kept the turnovers down and shot 42% from the field and everyone on the team got a bucket. Reed City was missing a few starters too."
Jaxi Long led the Lions with 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Anna Brummel drilled 4 triples enroute to a 16 point performance while Jaylee Long and Lily Ruehmeier each chipped in 9 points.
Newaygo improves to 6-0 (5-0 in conference). Reed City drops to 1-4 (1-4 in conference).
Newaygo goes on the road Wednesday to face Portland in a clash of conference leaders. The Raiders sit atop the Capital Area Conference.
Fremont 57 Chippewa Hills 36
Off the schneid.
The Packers picked up win #1 with a home victory over the Warriors behind a consistent and balanced scoring attack. A 3 point lead after one edged out to 8 by the half but it was in the second half that the Packer defense rose to the occasion allowing just 14 points while on the offensive end the team put up 27.
Coach Zerlaut -- "It has been a disappointing start to our season as far as our record goes, but the girls have worked hard, continue to improve, and we have seen results. Unfortunately, prior to tonight that hasn't equated to tallies in the win column. It was nice to see a total team effort result in a win for the girls tonight."
Fremont was led by Haley Zerlaut's 17 points, and Jessica Bennett added 9. Calla Miller and Mia Witte each had 7. Witte also led the team with 8 rebounds. Overall, the Packers compiled 49 rebounds, 29 of them on the offensive glass.
The Warriors were led by Madison Wrisley's 21 points and Shelby Fall's 13.
The Packers are now 1-6 overall, 1-5 in the CSAA Gold. They travel to Reed City on Friday for another league matchup.
Holton 41 Shelby 33
After building a 25-8 lead by the break the Red Devils saw the Tigers claw their way back into contention. Holton regrouped and kept the visitors at bay to snare their 5th straight win.
Coach Swanson: “I thought we played a very sound first half tonight. During the second half Shelby did a great job of getting into the painted area, and also getting on the glass. We didn't shoot the ball quite as well in the second half but we're able to make enough plays to hold on.
Aidan Poling fired in 19 points while grabbing 5 boards and nabbing a couple of steals on defense while Wyatt Monette and Brodrick Fialek hit for 8 points apiece with Monette adding 4 steals and Fialek snaring 3.
Holton 44 Orchard View 22
The last time the Red Devils were on the court they took a beating at the hands of an undefeated Kent City squad. Three days later the youthful team shook off that loss and snapped their 3 game skid with a non-con win over the Cardinals.
Freshmen Ryann Robins and Abbie Fowler continue to put the future of this team on display with Robins ripping the nets for 13 points and Fowler dropping in a dozen. Jasmine Vriesman added 9 points to the Devil attack.
Coach Mason: “The girls played in a rough physical game tonight. They fought hard through the game. Robins and Fowler came up huge tonight.”
Holton 66 Newaygo 31
The Red Devils made it 4 in a row Monday as they came out firing to take an 18-10 lead after one then stretched the advantage to 15 points by intermission.
The Lions couldn’t keep pace with the hosts as Holtoncontinued to run away in the second half.
Coach Swanson “The guys came out and played a pretty complete game tonight. I feel like we are making strides to become the team we want to be.”
Aidan Poling had another strong performance with 19 points and 3 assists and a balanced scoring effort by the Devs included Austin Fowler (13 points) Brodrick Fialek (11), Wyatt Monette (11) Kevin Ericson (6) Joseph McLean (5). Fialek led the team with 7 rebounds.
The Lions were led by Wyatt Mortenson with 11 points and Kody Bazzet who finished with 5.
Fruitport Calvary 87 Hesperia 34
Worcester: “Fruitport out matched us offensively. They made a lot of perimeter shots, transition points, and got a ton of second chance shots. We improved on our offense a bit tonight. We have a long way to go but we will continue to work hard.” Eagles
Fremont 49 Shelby 37
The Tigers led most of the first half but the Pack were able to take a slim 26-25 lead into halftime. The pace remained slow in the third quarter and continued the rest of the game.
Leading 37-32 at the end of the third quarter the hosts took the lead into double figures in the 4th to keep the Tigers at bay.
Braiden McDonald led a balanced scoring attack with 18 points adding 7 rebounds. Logan Nelson had a career high 10 points and Joshua Zerfas finished with 8 points, 7 assists and 7 steals. Jordan McDonald snared 8 rebounds to go with his 8 points while Lane Converse also hit for 8 points. Logan Claeys led Shelby with 11 points.
Shelby 45 Fremont 35
The Packers held leads at the end of the first quarter 11-10 and halftime 26-22, but were outscored 12-7 in the 3rd quarter and 11-2 in the final quarter.
Calla Miller led Fremont with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Jessica Bennett added 9 points. Kendall Zoulek led Shelby with 17 points. The loss dropped the Packers to 0-5, while the Tigers improved to 3-1.
Central Montcalm 57 Fremont 52
Fremont traveled to Central Montcalm Monday night, and despite another strong showing, they were unable to notch the win. The Packers led throughout the first half, and held a 32-26 advantage at the break. The two teams played even in the third quarter to put the score at 34-29 entering the fourth. Central Montcalm took the lead at 45-44 midway through the fourth, as the Packers' shooting went cold. The Packers struggled to keep the Hornets from getting offensive rebounds, which resulted in second chance points and fouls. Fremont was also forced to foul late in the game as Central Montcalm tried to stall out the last two minutes.
Bailey Vissman scored 14 of her game-leading 17 points in the fourth quarter, including 7 for 10 from the free throw line. London Eldridge added 14 for the Hornets, Emily Putman had 10, and Madison Wagner had 8.
The Packers had their best balance on offense of the season. Calla Miller led the attack with 12 points. Haley Zerlaut had 10 points, and Jessica Bennett, Kaitlynn Bennett, and Bri Webber each had 8. Miller also added 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
The loss dropped the Packers to 0-6 overall, 0-5 in the conference. They return to action Tuesday when they host Chippewa Hills.