Cloud Sweeps Devils
Photos by Cassie Rikkert
The White Cloud Indians Varsity Baseball Team traveled to Holton on Monday night to take on the Red Devils in the season opener for both teams.
In Game #1, the Indians won 15-5, and were led on offense by Alex Cruzan with 3 hits, and 3 RBI's, along with Mason Ruether collecting 2 hits, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI's, Kj Strait scored 3 runs.Mason Ruether got the win on the mound, allowing 1 hit, and striking out 2.
In the frigid Game #2, The Indians won 8-0, and were led on offense by Dominick Burkhart with 2 hits, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI's, Reece Hewitt also collected 2 hits, while Christian Ringler scored 2 runs. KJ Strait picked up the win on the mound, striking out 1 and allowing no hits.
The Indians are back in action at home on Tuesday Night against the Ravenna Bulldogs.
Boys CSAA All Conference
Congrats to the nine players from our area schools named to the All Conference squads. We asked their coaches to share a few words about their players.
Bryce Decker Newaygo Senior
Bryce was one of the area leaders in points, rebounds, and blocks and gave us a big presence in the back of our defense and hit big shots when we needed them.
Kevin Strait White Cloud Junior
Kevin led the team in ppg with 13.5. He's one one those young men you love to Coach, self-motivated and very Coachable. One of the best guards in the area if not the best.
Josiah Long Newaygo Junior
Josiah Long created a tough matchup for teams with his ability to go inside and outside which filled up the stat sheets in many areas and was a good team defender as well as one on one defender.
Zak Barnhart Grant Senior
Zak is a relentless competitor who stepped up to play the point guard role this season. He was a leader on both ends of the floor, ranking 2nd highest in our statistical formula. He's the type of player who can impact the game in so many ways. He's been fun to coach and will be missed.
Caris Nelson Newaygo Junior
Caris ran our offense and his ball handling and court vision opened up shots not only for himself but for his teammates as well as he led us in assists.
Lucas Swanson Grant Junior
Lucas led the team in our statistical formula and showed his skill as a shooting guard this season. He has a sneaky awareness on defense and helped the team in a variety of ways. He also showed high character coming off the bench for rotational purposes. He will have a chance to shine next year as a 3rd year varsity player.
Grant Harkness Newaygo Senior
Grant created a consistency on the floor which balances out the game, whether it is his play or his leadership, we always knew we would get a good defender, rebounder, and leader every game.
Noah Robinson White Cloud Junior
Noah averaged 10 ppg and 7 rebounds. Best defender on our team and another self motivated player and offensive threat from anywhere on the floor.
Chase Geers Grant Senior
Chase Is a delight to coach. He works hard, guards the opponents best player and plays with a high IQ, ranking 3rd highest in our statistical formula. Chae is the consummate team player, a real joy to coach and will be missed.
1st Team All-Conference
# Name Grade School
2 Dawson Dunn 12 Big Rapids
4 Mason Dunn 12 Big Rapids
4 Zak Barnhart 12 Grant
4 Zade Garret 12 Morley Stanwood
5 Jaret Jaramillo 12 Kent City
5 Caris Nelson 11 Newaygo
13 Josiah Long 11 Newaygo
14 Seth Vanderwest 12 Kent City
15 Jack Ruggles 12 Big Rapids
20 Karlito McKinney 12 Big Rapids
20 Kevin Strait 11 White Cloud
24 Gage Saathoff 11 Chippewa Hills
24 Lucas Swanson 11 Grant
24 Xavier Allen 12 Reed City
25 Bryce Decker 12 Newaygo
33 Ty Merlington 12 Tri-County
Honorable Mention All-Conference
# Name Grade School
3 Brett Flintoff 12 Tri-County
11 Drake Syrjala 12 Lakeview
21 Chase Geers 12 Grant
21 Ty Kailing 12 Reed City
23 Blake Guilford 12 Central Montcalm
23 Tyler Jones 12 Chippewa Hills
23 Will Harrison 12 Kent City
23 Grant Harkness 12 Newaygo
23 Noah Robinson 11 White Cloud
33 Owen Gammons 12 Big Rapids
Congratulations to the six players from our local teams who landed spots on the All Conference Teams.
Gaby Reeve, Grace Painter and Julie Ashbaugh secured first team selections while Addison Goodin, Jaden Gomez and Jayci Hance received Honorable Mention.
We asked their coaches for a few words about their players.
Gaby Reeve White Cloud Senior
Gaby is one of the hardest workers in the area, if not the hardest worker. She put the time in the gym all summer and during the weekends throughout the season. She is a master of her craft because of her hard work in the game that she loves. Gaby averaged 11.1ppg, 7rpg, and 1.4spg. She was our vocal captain all season, and she led by example. She has been offered to play at the next level, and I know that she has the work ethic to make an impact wherever she goes. I can't wait to see what she accomplishes next!
Grace Painter Newaygo Senior
Grace was a three year player for me. She played an important role in the success of the team over that time. She was one of the best defenders that I've coached and I believe she was arguably the best in our league this year. She was our leading scorer this year. Most of all, we will miss her leadership and toughness. Very blessed to have coached her over the past few years.
Julie Ashbaugh Grant Junior
Julie ranks up there with the top players in the area. In conference play, she averaged over 19 points and 9 rebounds a game along with leading the team in assists and steals. People talk about great shooters and great 1 on 1 players, but transition offense is never part of the conversation in terms of great offensive players. You would be hard-pressed to find a better player from baseline to baseline than Julie.
Jaden Gomez White Cloud Junior
Jaden improved offensively by leaps and bounds from last year to this year. Jaden is the most athletic guard in the area. She is lightning-quick, and that is something you can't teach. She was our floor general and our defensive leader. On the season, she averaged 6.1ppg and 3.5spg. She put the team on her back throughout the year during big moments. It will be nice having her return next year as a three-year varsity player.
Addison Goodin Newaygo Junior
Addison was arguably the most improved player this year for us. She was our leading rebounder and one of our top FT shooters. Looking for her to continue to develop on both the offensive and defensive end next year and to assume more of a leadership role. Excited to have her back.
Jayci Hance Grant Senior
In my opinion, Jayci is one of the best full-court defenders in the conference. Her constant ball pressure was one of the reasons teams struggled against our defense and she was tied for the most steals per game for us. On the offensive side of the court, she stepped it up this year averaging almost 10 a game in conference play
1st Team All-Conference
# Name Grade School
3 Kelsie Gorczewicz 12 Big Rapids
3 Emily Putnam 11 Central Montcalm
5 Hanna Smith 12 Big Rapids
5 Julie Ashbaugh 11 Grant
12 Lila Hoisington 11 Morley Stanwood
12 Grace Painter 12 Newaygo
13 Rylie Haist 12 Big Rapids
23 Lexie Bowers 12 Kent City
24 Marissa Warren 11 Big Rapids
24 Madelyn Geers 11 Kent City
25 Kyleigh Weck 11 Reed City
30 Maia Sexton 12 Central Montcalm
34 Makenna Martin 11 Morley Stanwood
44 Gaby Reeve 12 White Cloud
Honorable Mention All-Conference
# Name Grade School
1 Zoey Bacon 12 Central Montcalm
2 Desiree Brown 12 Chippewa Hills
3 Savannah Miller 12 Kent City
4 Jayci Hance 12 Grant
4 Jaden Gomez 11 White Cloud
5 Molly Bowman 11 Reed City
10 Baylor Syrjala 10 Lakeview
11 Julia Waltz 12 Big Rapids
14 Addison Goodin 11 Newaygo
22 Lynsey Biller 11 Morley Stanwood
23 Alison Johnson 12 Tri-County
Egg Collection Coming
No not the Easter variety
From our friends at the DNR:
Muskegon River anglers should be on the lookout this spring for Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel collecting walleye eggs below Croton Dam, which is in Newaygo County.
Electrofishing boat crews will collect walleye starting as early as the week of March 27 and concluding by April 14. The date these collections begin will depend on water temperatures, the presence of ripe fish and other factors. Most work likely will be completed from the last week of March through the first week of April. Five days of electrofishing are planned, with four of those being egg-take days.
"This adult population consists of mostly stocked fish," said Ed Pearce, DNR fisheries technician supervisor who coordinates the egg take. "The Muskegon River has the largest run of walleye in the Lake Michigan watershed south of Green Bay."
Electrofish sampling usually begins at Croton Dam each day at about 8:30 a.m. and proceeds downstream to the Pine Street access site. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may occur downstream to the Thornapple Street access site.
Anglers who wish to avoid the walleye collection activities should fish downstream of the Pine Street access site. The DNR asks everyone to use caution when fishing near the electrofishing boats, and anyone wading will be asked to exit the water when a boat approaches and during electrofishing work.
The DNR plans to collect approximately 32 million walleye eggs from the Muskegon River this year, which will result in fry (fish that have just hatched) for transfer to rearing ponds and direct fry plants throughout the Lower Peninsula. Walleye fry transferred to ponds will be raised to fingerling size (approximately 1.5 to 2.5 inches) and stocked in late spring or early summer in lakes and rivers throughout the Lower Peninsula. Lake Michigan and many inland lake walleye populations in the Lower Peninsula depend on the fingerlings produced from Muskegon River eggs.
The size of the walleye spawning run in the Muskegon River is about 40,000 to 50,000 fish each year. DNR crews will strip milt (sperm) and eggs from approximately 545 adult fish, which will be returned to the river – except for 60, which will be sent to Michigan State University for fish health testing. testing.
Learn more about how the DNR manages Michigan's fisheries at
Finding fun and fulfillment coaching middle school basketball
By Ryan Brummel
As a college student in an apartment full of avid basketball fans, my evenings between November and March look very similar. It was a random Wednesday night in December and my roommate and I were watching Big Ten basketball in our living room while eating a go-to college delicacy: the frozen pizza. All of a sudden I get a text from Nate Thomasma, the Newaygo Varsity Girls' Basketball coach, asking if I was interested in getting into coaching. As a Secondary Education major, the possibility of coaching was what initially drew me into pursuing the profession. We talked for a bit, and he asked if I would be willing to coach Newaygo’s 7th-grade girls' basketball team. I told him I’d look at my schedule and get back to him, as I knew my next semester at Grand Valley would be super busy without the added responsibility of coaching.
I looked at my class schedule for the upcoming winter semester, to see if I could shuffle my classes around to fit practices and games in. The more I thought about the job, the more my mind raced about all the things I could teach the girls that my ignorant 22-year-old self thought other coaches wouldn’t. So a couple of days later, against my best academic interests, I told Nate I would take the job.
My weeks during January and February may have made me the busiest person on the planet, or so it felt like it. I was Student Assisting (teaching half the day) in an 8th-grade math class in Grandville every morning, followed by a 2-hour education class in Downtown GR four days a week, and rounding out each day with an hour drive one way to basketball practice every afternoon/evening. Despite this daunting schedule ahead of me, I was excited and anxious to get started.
Despite being excited to start the season and begin working with the girls, I can say that I was not really sure how much I would enjoy coaching not just a middle school team, but middle school girls. When I envisioned myself coaching, I pictured taking a small-town varsity boys team to the state championship in classic “Hoosiers” fashion, not twelve and thirteen-year-old girls. I was uncertain about how I would approach coaching middle school girls, so I went to my roommate for advice. I have a roommate who helps coach a boys' varsity team, and we talk basketball and coaching 24/7. After hearing of me taking the 7th-grade girls’ job he gave me this famous one-liner: “I know literally nothing about the female species, so you’re on your own.” Aside from making me laugh hysterically, he was of little help.
The one thing I did have going for me, was that I have watched my sister’s basketball team play hundreds of hours of basketball since I was in elementary school. And I know I’m biased but it’s safe to say her team was pretty dang good considering they have a banner hanging in Newaygo’s gym. Knowing that watching my sister’s team have massive success brought me the best few months of my life without question, I wanted to be able to help the next generation of lady lions take a small step forward toward potential success at the varsity level.
The first week of practice mainly was me evaluating the girls and their skill sets. I had to find out what they know and what they know how to do before I can start implementing a scheme of any kind. After the first couple of practices I for some reason was surprised that the girls didn’t know as much as my twenty-two-year-old basketball-addicted self. Even so, I told the girls that we would be running all “varsity stuff” meaning the defensive schemes and offensive sets Nate runs at the varsity level. I think continuity in a basketball program is often underrated and overlooked. That meant the girls had two weeks to learn new offensive sets as well as a foreign 1-3-1 zone defense. This meant the next bunch of practices brought information overload. Going into the first game I thought the girls had a decent handle on what we were running.
Not realizing until after the season that we had a gauntlet of a schedule for the first week or so of games, the first few games brought frustration for coach and players alike. I had to keep reminding myself they just got introduced to all these new sets and were running a completely new defensive scheme. Despite the rough start the girls vastly improved over not just the season but from game to game winning 6 of their last 8. All of my players improved tremendously whether they realized it or not. Improvement ranged anywhere from their skillset, confidence, leadership, body language, and basketball IQ in general. The two-month game season flew by so fast that it felt like I blinked and it was over.
I don’t think I’ve had a more rewarding experience in all my life. There was nothing like us losing a close game to Central Montcalm we all felt we should have won, then proceeding to beat them handily only a week later. I loved watching my girls run a set to perfection and finishing it off with a made jump shot or layup that we’ve been working on all year. I loved the girls making the right rotations on our 1-3-1 defense to get a steal without me having to shout anything out when at the beginning of the season we looked lost and confused. I loved watching the joy the game brought the girls when they played well. I loved watching my girls get more confident in themselves as the season went on. I loved the girls growing together as a team and bonding more as the season progressed. Of all the rewarding things that came with the job the experience I gained was a drop in the bucket compared to watching the team progress and the girls become better versions of themselves.
Two months and some odd weeks later I have learned more from coaching this team as I feel like I’ve learned in all of my seventeen years of education. The biggest thing I’ve learned was how to communicate with my players which will help me in my education career tremendously. I learned very quickly that raising my voice was significantly ineffective. This meant more individual conversations. Some of my players wore their thoughts on their sleeves and were easy to see what they were thinking and connect to. But there were a few that were definitely tough to crack. As the season went on, I felt like I got even my more stubborn players to open up a little more to me and create the player-coach dialogue that all successful teams need. I also learned that I love to coach girls' basketball way more than I thought I would. I had an absolute blast coaching this team. They were much better listeners and much more coachable than any boys' team I’ve been on or around and it’s not even close.
Coaching also meant that I had to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the court. The best coaches are ones who lead by example and don’t just show their players how to be successful on the court, but how to be successful in life off the court. Not to say I previously was a bad example but it made me think twice about how I composed myself. Future Hall of Fame coach Steve Kerr in a postgame interview mentioned a quote “People play basketball the way they live their life”. I believe that is even more true for coaches. I believe you can see who a person is by looking at the way they coach and that was how I approached this season. I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed coaching this season. I appreciate Nate for giving me the opportunity. I also want to thank the parents of the girls because this team was so fun to coach which means they must be doing something right.
I hope the parents and my players know that I would run through a wall for them, and I cannot wait to see them fulfill their potential and see the success they earn at the varsity level.
And I hope this season I spent with them made just a tiny, little contribution in getting them there.
Hudsonville Unity 70 Fremont 40
The Packer season came to an end on the home court of their Regional semi-final opponent, Hudsonville Unity Christian.
The Crusaders got to the Regionals by defeating OK Gold co-champs Catholic Central in their District Final, a nail-biter of a win over the highly regarded and state ranked Cougars.
The Packers also came in courtesy of a down-to-the-wire victory over Sparta.
This one would see no photo finish.
The Crusaders rained down 3 pointers all night and after inching ahead by 3 after one they outscored their visitors 17-7 in the second quarter to hit halftime holding a 28-15 lead. From there it was all Crusaders as they ran away with the win and advanced to the Regional final against GR Christian.
Coach Bowen: “I thought we fought hard in the first quarter. We didn't play scared or intimidated, but we missed quite a few easy shots, and just couldn't get any momentum on the offensive end. We kept the game close through the first half. I thought their pressure and their depth just wore us down in the second half. I thought we got really tired and started turning the ball over and that's when the game got out of hand. I'm still really proud of the boys for how we finished the season.”
Jordon McDonald scored 15 points and nabbed 8 rebounds in his final game as a Packer. Ben Mellema and Gavin Richards hit for 8 points apiece.
Fremont finished with a 13-12 mark and 6-6 in their inaugural WMC season.
WMC BOYS ALL CONFERENCE
By Ken DeLaat
Photos by Mike Gesler
It was a rugged first year in the WMC for our local teams. Fremont finished in a three-way tie for third with a respectable 6-6 mark in conference play but the Packers are a bit more accustomed to battling for the crown most years. Have to say, adding a District Title to the trophy case is not a bad consolation though.
Hesperia and Holton struggled in the Rivers Division where they ran into a cluster of teams who were each having really good years. They finished tied for last with each getting one win…against each other.
Lakes co-champ Whitehall should have some good years ahead with 3 of their 4 all conference players having two more years on the court and Montague’s 3 selections are juniors.
In the Rivers Hart has 3 of their AC players finishing their high school careers while Mason County Central, North Muskegon and Shelby each graduate 2 from the AC teams.
Locally Jordon McDonald added another league to his all conference collection and Packer point guard Chaz Miller received honorable mention. The two (and their teammates)have been outstanding in the postseason for the Pack
Coach Bowen: “Both well deserved for sure. Jordon has been one of the best players in the area for the last two years. He averaged over 20 points, 7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks this season. Chaz had a very good year as well, averaging 10 points, 5.5 assists and 2 steals per game. He is also one of the best defenders in the conference. They are both very good players and also very good students. They are great representatives of our program and our school.
Little wonder why Red Devil Carter Brant notched a spot on the Rivers AC First Team. He was clearly the best player on a last place team and Coach Swanson will be welcoming him back next year.
Coach Swanson: “Carter is a very advanced basketball player that had another strong season despite some pretty tough circumstances. He led us in points, assists, and rebounds and was a leader for us on and off the court.”
Youth will be served in Hesperia with Honorable Mention Jared Turner just a sophomore.
LAKES FIRST TEAM ALL CONFERENCE
1. Camden Thompson 10 Whitehall
2. David Schillinger 11 Ludington
3. Jordon MacDonald 12 Fremont
4. Mathew Westhouse 12 Ludington
5. Owen Raeth 11 Montague
6. Spencer Holmes 11 Montague
7. Jack Houtteman 12 Whitehall
8. Kal Koehler 10 Whitehall
9. Isaiah Atchison 11 Montague
10.Payton Ruel 10 Oakridge
LAKES ALL-CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION
1. Levi Laman 12 Ludington
2. Camar Ready 10 Whitehall
3. Chaz Miller 10 Fremont
4. Matt Danicek 12 Oakridge
5. Stephon Oakes 11 Orchard View
6. Jacob Sharp 11 Manistee
RIVERS FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE
1. Parker Hovey 12 Hart
2. Troy McMannis 12 North Muskegon
3. Jayden Perrone 12 Mason County Central
4. Will Chye 12 Mason County Central
5. Blake Weirich 11 Hart
6. Bishop Lee 12 Shelby
7. Carter Schullo 11 Ravenna
8. Diego Escamillo 12 Hart
9. Sam Gallo 12 North Muskegon
10.Carter Brant 11 Holton
RIVERS ALL-CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION
1. Caleb Bitely 12 Hart
2. Hunter Hogan 12 Ravenna
3. Mason Garcia 12 Shelby
4. Jaxon Lisinski 11 North Muskegon
5. Jared Tanner 10 Hesperia
The girls all conference teams were recently announced by the West Michigan Conference and 4 area players landed on the lists.
In the Lakes Division Fremont junior Jessica Bennett earned first team honors.
Coach Zerlaut: “Jessica really developed into a leader for our team this year. She averaged 10.1 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and one blocked shot per game. As the season went along I thought she improved her inside game, developing the ability to score out of the post, as well as to better attack the basket off the dribble.”
Holton's basketball future looks bright with two first team selections in the Rivers Division who have another year of eligibility for the Red Devils, Abbie Fowler and Ryann Roberts.
Coach Jordan; “ I first want to speak to them as individuals. Both just great kids that take care of business in the classroom and both keep a busy busy schedule year round as they are 3 sport athletes and play travel softball as well.
Abbie Fowler 9.7 ppg 5.1 apg (led both WMC divisions) 4.9 spg
“I asked a lot of her this year, and she played a ton of minutes for me, hardly ever came out and never came out until late in the 4th on the few times she did. We just had to have her out there, we weren’t the same team without her… we got a small taste of what that was like in districts.. and I didn’t like it. She was so important to our teams success.. she was the engine
She was the primary ball under and the top of our press and zone, and she had a really good year this year, last year too but she really improved in the scoring department and improved so much at finishing around the time, Something she struggled with at times last year. Very active defender , Every game she had a bunch of steals and deflections. She made a ton of great passes this year and set her teammates up all the time. I’m really happy she got this recognition as she is more than deserving.”
Ryann Robins 10.0 ppg 10.2 rpg 2.1 spg
“Ryann averaged a double double for the second year in a row. The only girl in our division to do so and 1 of 2 in the entire conference, so there is something to say about that. She is just a big strong girl, and she has pretty good hands as well so that combination helps with rebounding and scoring down low. She had several 20 pt games this year and a few 15 plus rebounding games as well. And I actually feel she has another level she can get to if she can learn to play with a little edge and use that frame as she could and should. She faced a lot of doubles this year and many teams schemed to limit her touches , she opens the floor up for all her teammates.”
Hesperia’s Samantha Logana was given Honorable Mention in the Rivers Division. As a key member of the Panther squad
Coach Elenbaas: “Samatha was a great player for us this past season. She is a hard worker with a great attitude. She led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. She was a leader on the team and was constantly seeking improvement for both herself and the team. She will be greatly missed next year."
First Team Selections
Keelyn Laird - Ludington - 12th
Olivia Lynn - Ludington - 12th
Emma Peterson - Montague - 12th
Haylee Schwarz - Montague - 12th
Destyni Lane - Oakridge - 12th
Anna Lundquist - Oakridge - 11th
Libby McCarthy - Manistee - 11th
Jayna Edmunson - Manistee - 11th
Jessica Bennett - Fremont - 11th
Onnyka Dempsey - Whitehall - 12th
Addison Pranger - Montague - 10th
Emma McKinley - Ludington - 11th
Autumn Ferris - Whitehall - 12th
Lily Blackburn - Oakridge - 12th
Elizabeth Estelle - Orchard View - 12th
First Team Selections
Aspen Boutell - Hart - 12th
Abby Hicks - Hart - 11th
Addi Hovey - Hart - 10th
Wren Nelson - Mason County Central - 11th
Mallori Miller - Mason County Central - 10th
Aubrey Klotz - Shelby - 12th
Molli Schultz - Shelby - 11th
Abby Fowler - Holton - 11th
Ryann Robins - Holton 11th
Emma Gillard - Ravenna - 12th
Grace Weinert - Mason County Central - 11th
Mariana VanAgtmael - Hart - 11th
Addy Gillard - Ravenna - 10th
Carlie Banks - Mason County Central - 12th
Kaylee Martin - North Muskegon - 10th
Samantha Logana - Hesperia - 12th
Photos by Bobbie Cruzan
Shelby 45 White Cloud 40
A successful season for the White Cloud team came to an end Friday when they fell to the Tigers in the District Final in Scottville.
Shelby had bested the Cloud by double figures a couple of weeks earlier on the Tiger home court and came into the game on a 6 game winning streak. On Wednesday they dispatched the host and tournament favorite Spartans (Mason County Central) in a close matchup while WC arrived at the finals via a dominating win over Hesperia.
White Cloud jumped out early taking an 11-6 edge in the first quarter thanks to a Mason Reuther triple and a Jayden Robinson bucket then went up 7 in the second when Kevin Strait scored a 2 and Noah Robinson filled the nets from distance. The Tigers rallied back, though and when the teams hit intermission the Cloud was clinging to a one point lead, 18-17.
The third was a seesaw battle but when the dust cleared the Tigers ran off to a 34-28 lead heading into the final frame.
But White Cloud wasn’t done. They battled their way back pulling within a single point down the stretch. In the end the Tigers were able to hit their shots from the charity stripe and put the game away and end the season for White Cloud.
Coach Jones: “ Tough loss for sure. The boys did everything right tonight, except from the free throw line. 1 for 11 will cost you a game like that every time. Give Shelby the credit they deserve, they are a well coached, hard working, and smart team. Hats off to them because they earned it.
So very proud of our team and coaches and to the fans for showing up all year and supporting the team. We will be back.”
Ruether paced the offense with 10 points while Noah and Jayden Robinson finished with 9 apiece and Kevin Strait and Jared Watson knocked down 6 each.
Jason Ruether and Landyn McGowenhad some quality minutes off the bench for WC.
White Cloud finished their season at 13-10.
Shelby (14-11) will head to Lake City Monday to face the Highland Conference Champion Ramblers of Mc Bain (19-5) in the Regional Semifinals.
A Game For The Ages
Packers prevail in a slugfest
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
Fremont 57 Sparta 55
In one of the more physical games in recent history the Packers held off a relentless Spartan squad to pull out a hard fought win, capture the District championship and advance to the Regionals for the first time since 2018.
But it did not come easy.
Early on the Spartans seemed to have no answer for the high octane Packer offense and when William DeBlake fired in a three late in the first quarter Fremont had built an 18-5 lead.
But Sparta was far from finished. Behind some spirited defense and the pinpoint shooting of Jax Wilson and Landon Reister the Spartans fought their way back into the game pulling within 5 at intermission.
Gatlin Mosby hit a triple to begin the second half to cut the lead to 2 but Ben Mellema answered with a missile from beyond the arc and after a stop Mellema took a pass from Chaz Miller and the Pack went up 7. Sparta went on a run scoring 10 points while Fremont managed only a Jordon McDonald bucket and when Wilson hit for 2 at the end of that run the Spartan fans went wild as their team inched into their first lead of the night. Miller responded with a triple and Gavin Richards and McDonald pushed the Fremont lead to 6. The Spartans went to the stripe twice splitting both times and Richards hit a 2 and the teams headed to the last 8 minutes with the Pack up a half dozen.
The fourth quarter was an absolute war. The teams exchanged blows matching baskets for the first 4 minutes but a pair of consecutive shots by TaeShon Wisonn went down and we had a 2 point game with the Packers holding the slim lead.
Reister tied it up and Miller hit one from somewhere in the next county to put the Pack up 3.Then McDonald who had been the go to guy all evening was called for his 5th foul and headed to the bench. Wilson hit a bucket then Fremont tried to freeze the ball with less than a minute left. Sparta needed to foul repeatedly to get the Packers to the line and it was DeBlake they sent to the stripe. With ice in his veins he dropped both to make it 56-53 Packers. Wilson drove in and scored while drawing a foul but he missed the game tying free throw and Mellema got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He split the pair to put the Pack up 2 but Sparta had one more shot at a win or a tie. After a time out the shot fell short but a scrum for the ball ended in a jump ball call and gave Sparta yet another chance with a second left. They got the inbound pass but the attempt failed to find the target and the Packers prevailed.
Coach Bowen: “What a great game from our boys! I thought that was one of the best games we’ve played all year against a very good team. We got great contributions from everyone. Jordon had another great game despite being in foul trouble and finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Chaz played great on both ends of the floor. Gavin Richards had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Will DeBlake hit a big shot late in the fourth and made two huge free throws, and Ben Mellema hit some big shots as well. I thought our team defense and rebounding was really good for most of the game. When Jordon fouled out with a couple minutes left, our guys really came together and collectively picked up the slack. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids for how hard they played and how they represented our school and our program."
Fremont (13-11) will travel to Hudsonville Monday to take on Unity Christian (16-9) on the Crusaders home court.