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 t he 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 Newayo. 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.
Conference matchups begin Wednesday
The Packers traveled up north to Petoskey last Saturday to wrestle 3 tough teams. The first dual was against the host Northmen. The Packers posted 6 straight wins starting with Killian Prewitt (103), RJ Thome (112), Tee Ward (119), Eli Beasley (125), Daniel Romero (130), and ending with Trey Myers (135). At 160 pounds, Trey Breuker had a 7-1 decision and then Michael Romero clinched the dual with a pin at the 189 pound weight class. Fremont narrowly edged Petoskey by a score of 36-34.
The next match was against Warren De La Salle Collegiate High School. Both teams won 7 weights each, but Fremont had 7 pins to defeat the Pilots 42-36. Winners were: Killian Prewitt, RJ Thome, Eli Beasley, Trey Myers, Braulio Soto- Gomez, Alex Gleason, and Jager Kibart.
Both Fremont and Escanaba entered the third round with wins over Petoskey and DeLaSalle. The Packers had 7 pins and 2 major decisions and tallied a score of 50 points against the 29 of the Eskymos. Victorious Packers were: Thome, Ward, Beasley, Myers, Gleason, Breuker, and M. Romero.
The Packers are now 8-1 and start their CSAA duals on Wednesday at Chippewa Hills.
Practices to begin March 22
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Feb. 22 – The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved today an adjustment to the Spring 2021 schedule delaying the start of practices in those sports one week to March 22 and competition to March 26 to accommodate a later end to Winter sports this season. The calendar change should alleviate pressures on indoor facility usage and athletes changing seasons with Winter sports concluding up to two weeks later this school year after a delayed start due to COVID-19.
The Council based its decision in part on feedback from a survey of MHSAA member high schools, which saw 74 percent favoring a delay in Spring sports activity of at least one week. State coaches associations for Spring sports also were consulted. Generally, the great majority of Michigan schools are unable to begin consistent Spring sports outdoor activity and competition until early April.
All Spring sports tournament dates remain as originally scheduled, with MHSAA Finals in baseball, softball and girls soccer concluding the 2020-21 postseason June 19.
The entire Spring sports season was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, the Council approved an allowance for Spring teams to meet for voluntary practices over 16 contact days this past September and October. General conditioning with an unlimited number of students is currently allowed, with other out-of-season training (four-player workouts, open gyms/facilities) allowed to continue through March 21, with Council having eliminated the preseason downtime restriction for Spring sports this year.
By N3 Sports Team
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 choices were made based on the season’s start to this past Friday.
Jaylee Long, Newaygo
The senior in her 4th Varsity season has helped her team run off to a 5-0 start to the season. Averaging 20 points a game while dishing out the dimes to her teammates and grabbing her share of boards, Long exudes confidence on the floor and remains a key cog on a talented Lion squad.
Coach Thomasma:“Jaylee kept us consistent on the court all the while dealing with a pretty big shiner on her eye.”
Ms. Long took a hard elbow just above the eye in a recent game but battled on despite the irritating inconvenience of substantial swelling.
Braiden McDonald, Fremont/Ashton Stephens, Newaygo
We could not resist naming co-players of the week after seeing Editor Mercer’s account of the game within the game between them last week.
“Then the third quarter happened. Braiden McDonald of Fremont and Ashton Stephens of Newaygo may well have been in a 1 on 1 offensive battle. The two leaders went back and forth , draining everything they touched.”
Stephens and McDonald have continued to light it up since their duel when they combined for 65 points and they will meet once again on March 3rd at Newaygo.
We know many of you cannot attend the games due to the current restrictions but you can still support your fave teams. Check out this article to find your way into the gym of your choice.
By Mike Gesler
Photos by Mike Gesler and Alexis Mercer
Newaygo 48 Grant 26
“We definitely played scared. Obviously them coming back as good as they did last year that was in our heads. We were just pretty intimidated from the start,” stated Grant’s coach, Josh Delamater
The Tigers were no match for the Lions tonight in Grant. A very experienced Newaygo squad jumped out to a five point lead on Grant and never looked back. The Lion’s scored in double digits each quarter while holding the Tigers down to single digits. The play of Newaygo’s Long sisters combined with Emmerson Goodin was clinical, and if that wasn’t enough of a threat, Grace Painter was the nail in the coffin.
For Grant, this was a game for their young players to learn and grow from. “We obviously didn’t get any time together this summer,” continued Delamater, “so everything is really new for them. So it’s a process, and it’s one of those things where you learn from this game and take lessons going forward.”
For Newaygo, it was a continued confirmation that they may be able to go as deep in the playoffs this year as they were on their way to doing last year before the COVID virus shut the season down. “I thought we played pretty well,” stated Newaygo’s coach, Nate Thomasma. “Took care of the ball pretty well. Tried to make it difficult. I know Grant’s got a couple shooters, and we tried to make it difficult on them a little bit while making our own shots.”
Leading in the Lion’s victory was Emmerson Goodin with twelve points followed by Jaxi Long with ten. Grace Painter had nine herself with Lillian Ruehmeier (6), Jaylee Long (5), Anna Brummel (4), and Kayla Fisk (2) each contributing.
For the Tiger’s Julie Ashbaugh led with eight followed by Sara Arends with seven. Trinity Swanson (5), Jaycee Rider (3), Mackenzie Ritz (2), and Chloee Chase (1) helped out the Tiger’s effort.