Packers Bring Home the Hardware
Thome, Breuker, Kolk take top honors; Knudsen reaches 100
The Packers grappled their way to the top spot in the Mat Hat Classic Invitational in Montague Saturday besting the 15 team field to secure the Championship.
Their final tally of 223.5 outpointed Holland (185.5), Hudsonville (165) Spring Lake (135.5 and the Hesperia Panthers who finished 5th (95.5).
R.J. Thome Trey Breuker and Kyler Kolk took home individual championships while Alex Gleason Jager Kibart and Michael Romero also made it to the finals to finish second.
Gage Montague and Briar Hambrock nabbed third place honors, Eli Beasley, Matt Halasinski and Chase Knudsen finished fourth and Henrik Quist, Sam Parks, and Cody Visscher placed sixth.
Knudsen took just 25 seconds to achieve a milestone as he pinned Seth Harris of Muskegon in his opening match to gain his 100th career win.
White Cloud 63 Hesperia 42
The Cloud ran out to a 16-5 lead after one and stretched their advantage to 15 by intermission.
Coach Jones: “All ten players played well tonight.”
Steven Holt fired in a game high 17 points with three other WC players finishing in double figures. Sam Venema scored 15 Dexter Cox dropped in 11 and Jake Foster hit for 10. Taylor Bode (5), Alex Elder (3) and Tom Feldpausch (2) rounded out the scoring for the Cloud.
Joao Lima paced the Panthers with 10 points, while River Montague and Kaiden Robbins knocked down 9 apiece.
Coach Wooster: “I'm proud of these guys for the improvements made thus far. We have guys who give 100%. We have to improve free throws and offensive consistency and we will be on track to compete at a higher level.”
Morley Stanwood 52 Holton 46
The Devils battled to a 29-20 lead at the break but the Mohawks came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders and forged a 40 all tie heading into the final frame.
That's when Axel Woolworth started firing them in from beyond the arc along with some key buckets from Aiden McLaughlin and Justin Carney
Nathan Slowik led the Red Devils with 20 points and Aidan Poling hit for 10, Wyatt Monette finished with 8 points and Drew Trygstad dropped in a half dozen..
Holton(2-2, 1-1)returns to action January 3rd when they hit the road to Ravenna. MS is 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Silver play. Their next contest will be in Stanton on January 7th when they face the Hornets.
White Cloud 44 Hesperia 34
WC held their hosts to a single point in the first and built a 20-7 lead by the half. The Panthers held their own in the second half but could not mount enough of a run to catch the Cloud
Emily Bayle grabbed 11 boards and Emmi Tinkham took down 10 for the Panthers with Bayle pacing the scoring with 18 and Becci Castillo snatching 3 steals.
Coach Grodus:“A slow start hurt us in the first half. We finally got some shots to fall in the second half but we ran out of time.”
Hesperia (1-4, 1-1) will welcome in the Spartans of Mason County Central on January 6th and White Cloud (3-3, 1-1) returns to action the next day with a road trip to Shelby.
Morley Stanwood 59 Holton 14
The Lady Devs (0-2, 1-4) face Wyoming Lee at home January 7th.
Tigers Hold Off Coyotes
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 67 Reed City 55
Both the Grant Tigers and the Reed City Coyotes came into tonight’s match-up with a 0-3 record. That meant that both teams knew one of them tonight would put their first win in the column. And because this was a CSAA conference game, neither team wanted to enter the winter break already down two in conference play.
The first quarter would begin with Grant drawing first blood as Carter Chase started Grant’s scoring effort with two points. Seth Schuitema would add the next three points, end a five point Reed City run, and begin a six point run for the Tigers. Thus began the battle of the winless teams that would have Grant edging out Reed City in the first quarter by a basket.
Reed City started the second by evening out the score at twelve. Schuitema once again drained another three, but Reed City answered with a three of their own. With the second quarter half way through, and the game tied at fifteen, Grant called a time-out. The Tigers came out of that time-out by putting together an eight point run, and from there never looking back. As the half buzzer sounded, the Tigers took to the locker room with a ten point lead over Reed City’s seventeen points.
With the start of the second half, the Coyotes knew a ten point deficit was not insurmountable to dig their way out. The Tigers however knew that this game was far from over, and they still had business to take care of. Elliott Buchart increased the Tiger lead to twelve. Grant went on to extend their lead by fourteen before Reed City went on a run to bring the game within nine. This would be a theme that would repeat itself later in the game.
The fourth quarter saw an entirely different Grant team. With the pressure of the first win lifting off their backs, the Tigers started having fun. In doing so, Grant put together their best quarter of their young season thus far. Within the first two minutes of the fourth, the Tigers had extended their lead again by fourteen points. The Coyotes though were not about to simply slink away with their tails between their legs. Over the next couple minutes, Reed City slowly chipped that deficit back to eight. But eight wasn’t enough as the Tigers easily controlled the remainder of the game for their first win of the season.
“I thought we shared the ball really well tonight,” stated Coach Schuitema. “Probably most of our baskets were off an assist which I think sends a message about the kind of team we have; like we are pretty unselfish and we’re looking for guys. I was really proud of them competing because Reed City is a tough physical team, and we just kept battling.”
Leading in tonight’s efforts was Seth Schuitema with twenty-four points, followed by Carter Chase with fifteen. Brett Long had nine, Elliot Buchart with eight, and Orion Evans put up six. Cole Lesley and Brandon Swanson each had two, and Diesel Rose contributed one. The Tigers move to 1-1 in the conference, and 1-3 overall. After the winter break the Tigers go on a three game road trip beginning with Chippewa Hills before returning home to face Newaygo on January 21.
Tigers Claw Their Way Back
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 44 Reed City 39
The Lady Tigers were looking to keep their conference record unblemished tonight against the Lady Coyotes of Reed City. Reed City though was determined not to enter the winter break with a winless record, and were salivating at a chance for Tiger meat.
The game did not begin well for either team. Both were slow to get on the board, and it was Reed City who struck the first blow. The Tigers would have to wait four minutes before Kirstyn Throop would convert one of a one-and-one and give the Tigers their first point. After that both teams seem to find their rhythm, and a first quarter battle ensued. By the time the dust settled, Reed City had a one point advantage going into the second quarter.
The second quarter saw an apparent strategic adjustment from Reed City by putting Throop on a tight leash. Reed City’s talented and athletic guard, Taylor Harrison, did everything she could to stymie Throop’s play. This adjustment paid off as the Coyotes held the Tigers to only five points in the second while putting eleven more points on the board for themselves. Going into the half, Reed City looked as if they had caged the Tigers with a score of fourteen to twenty-one.
I don’t know what Coach Paulsen said in the locker room, but the Tigers came out in the second half ready to show the Coyotes that whatever wounds they may have suffered were now fully healed. After Reed City quickly put another two points on the board, Grant went on a six point run to bring the game within an easy three point difference. And even though Reed City continued to keep Throop from finding the net that did not stop Throop from finding her open teammate. With the third quarter coming to a close, Grant had chiseled Reed City’s lead down to two.
The start of the fourth saw Savannah Passage tie the game up, but it would be a pair of free-throws followed quickly with a three point bucket, both from Sara Arends, that would shift the momentum clearly over to Grant’s side. With seventy ticks left on the clock and a nine point advantage, it appeared that Grant was about to secure their second win of the season. However, the clock was stopped at a minute-ten because Throop had committed her fifth foul and put Reed City’s Harrison on the line. With Throop now out of the game, Reed City made quick work of the next minute and brought the game back within three. The Lady Tigers were not having their best night at the line so an intentional foul on Jaycee Rider with six point six seconds left seemed like a smart decision out of Reed City. With a three point difference, Throop out, and Harrison waiting for her team to put the ball in her hands, Rider needed to come through in the clutch. With nerves of steel, Rider drained both free-throws. There was nothing left that the Coyotes could do as Grant made a terrific second half come back for the win.
“I thought it was a great bounce game,” stated Coach Paulsen. “We had a good Central Montcalm game. Sparta was not our best effort. Today we came back, and did the things we talked about doing on Wednesday. The girls played their butts off. Reed City is tough, physical, and aggressive. I thought we did a good job matching it, and doing what we needed to do at the end to pull out a victory.”
Leading tonight in Grant’s scoring effort was Jaycee Rider with twelve followed closely by Ashley Longcore with nine, Sara Arends with eight, Kirstyn Throop with seven, and Kassidy Doornbos with six. Savannah Passage also put up two. The Tigers go into the winter break with conference record of 2-0, and 2-4 overall. When play resumes in January, the Tigers go on a long away stretch beginning with Manistee. Their next home game is not until the twenty-first against Newaygo.
Track Meet? Not Tonight
Packers hold off late Cardinal run for the win
Fremont 57 Big Rapids 43
With a pair of high powered offenses averaging around 80 points a game poised to meet in an early conference showdown it looked to be a high scoring affair.
Instead it was a knock down in your face defensive battle royale as an emotional game unfolded in front of a packed Packer house and the hosts sent their fans home happy with a big early season win.
The first quarter told of what was to come as the teams fought to an 8-6 Packer lead after one courtesy of 5 points by Joshua Zerfas , a triple by Chris Kennedy and some rugged defensive play.
In the second, a pair of 3 pointers from Kennedy and Carter Moon gave the hosts an 8 point lead but Demarcus Lee hit from distance and Jamal Strickland canned a couple baskets and the Cards were within a point. Tristan Campbell split a pair at the line and Lee followed with a game tying shot followed by a 3 by Keendy and and answer from Sam Alley and the score stayed tied before Moon sent the teams to break with a basket to give Fremont a 22-20 edge at the half.
That lead would hold up until the final period as the Pack fought off a couple of runs by the Cardinals to stay ahead through three. With Fremont up by as much as 8 points the BR team battled back with some inside play by D.J. GreenBay that pulled the visitors within 4 but Braiden McDonald, scoreless in the first half hit a basket and completed the 3 point play with a free throw following a foul that didn’t sit lightly on the Cardinal bench as the coaching staff well demonstrated in their reaction to the referees. BR's Alley and Jaxx Miller exchanged buckets and the teams entered the final quarter with Fremont up 37-32.
Lee and Alley busted out in the 4th with 6 quick points that tied the game but Zerfas cam through with a pair of hoops, Kennedy converted a pair from the charity stripe and Zrfas pounded in another before Ally stopped the Cardinal bleeding with a basket. Kennedy and McDonald each found their way to the foul line and each went 2-2 to push the lead to ten with 2 minutes on the clock
From there the Packers were in control and BR was forced to foul as time wound down.
Coach Zerfas: “On paper this one looked like it was going to be a track meet. It was slow early as shots were not falling for either side. We talked at halftime to stay the course and try to bump it to 7 after 3 quarters and that's what we did. Big Rapids came out strong in the 4th but we regrouped and wore them down.”
Kennedy led a balanced attack with 16 points. McDonald had 11 points and 12 rebounds while Joshua Zerfas finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists.
Carter Moon had a great all-around game with 10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 assists and played everywhere from the guard to big throughout the game.
Fremont is now 5-0, overall and 2-0 in the Gold. Big Rapids falls to 2-1 and 1-1 in conference play. The Packers stretch their two season regular season winning streak to 22 with the victory.
Not on Our Court!
Packers rally in the 4th to clip the Cards
Fremont 39 Big Rapids 33
Paige Vandenberg came up big Friday night hitting some timely shots in the clutch but it was truly a team effort that forged the impressive comeback victory over a previously undefeated Cardinal team. Chloe Shriver, Calla Miller, and Natalie Jamieson were superlative on the defensive end as they dove after loose balls, tied up the BR inside players and managed a few steals along the way. Avery Curnett banged home a drought ending triple in the first and Kaitlyn Bennett canned 3 shots in the late 3rd and early 4th Q’s that kept the Pack poised for that comeback.
This one was indeed a classic that fans and players should long remember.
With the teams jockeying back and forth, the defense-dominated first quarter came to an end with BR holding a 9-7 lead.
Then the Pack went cold. Unable to get the ball inside against a Cardinal defense that slapped a double team on Vandenberg every time she touched the ball they went to the outside shot but nothing was falling. As the second period progressed it looked like the Cards would be taking a double digit lead into the locker room but Miller rifled a pass to Jamieson who converted to end the half on a positive note despite an 8 point deficit.
After the break Vandenberg and Shriver got the hosts within 4 but the BR girls went on an 8-2 run and held the lead by 10. A triple by Jamieson and a Bennett bucket countered a Haist basket and the teams headed to the final frame with the Cards holding a solid 28-21 lead. A 7 point edge against a team averaging just 7 points in the first three quarters looked good for the visitors especially with the scoring prowess of Cardinal sharpshooter Rylee Haist.
The Pack clawed their way back in with a mindset of being on a mission. They slapped down a defense that choked off the BR scoring. Miller and Bennett hit the first 2 buckets of the 4th and at the 4 minute mark Jamieson followed a Vandenberg triple with the basket that would give the Packers the lead for the first time since midway through the first quarter.
The Cards kept coming at them but the Lady Packers were not about to yield. It had taken too much and too long to get that lead back and this was their gym and their game to finish.
And finish it they did. With a strong belief in themselves and their teammates the Packers delivered notice of their intention to compete for the crown. The final minute saw a key steal by Miller and an impressive Vandenberg rebound off a missed free throw to keep the Cards at bay and secure a key conference win.
Coach Zerlaut: “It can be hard to stay positive and continue to compete when the ball won’t go in the basket. I was really proud of the girls for continuing to play as hard as they did for four quarters. Thankfully some shots fell during the fourth and allowed us to pull off the win.”
Vandenberg led the Packers with 14 points and 6 rebounds, Jamieson scored 9 and took down a half dozen boards and Bennett hit for 7. Chloe Shriver brought it home on the glass with 8 boards while dishing out 7 assists and Miller displayed a dominant defense all night. For Big Rapids Haist finished with a game high 16 while teammate Holly McKenna added 7.
Fremont evened their mark at 3-3 with a 2-0 conference mark while Big Rapids dropped their first game and moves to 5-1 on the season and 1-1 in the Gold. The Packers go on hiatus for the holidays and will resume conference play January 10th when they host the Hornets of Central Montcalm.
Hornets Sting In Fourth Quarter
Hornets Sting In Fourth Quarter
Stories and photos by Alexis Mercer
Both the boys and girls Newaygo varsity teams played at home on Friday night against Central Montcalm. And both lost the fourth quarter battles put up by the Hornets.
The girls game started slowly, with each team cautiously feeling out their opponent. Last year, Central Montcalm went undefeated in the conference, winning soundly against everyone they played.
Friday, despite Newaygo scoring first, the Hornets went up to a 10-5 lead. Then the Lions got their offense together. Jaxi Long hit two 3s to put the Lions up 15-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Central Montcalm came out in the second quarter very patiently, passing and waiting for the right chance to score. The Hornets hit a 3, Newaygo's Emmerson Goodin came back with a 2 under the basket, the Hornets' Bailey Vissman drained another 3, then Newaygo's Jaylee Long swished a 3 of her own. The quarter was like this: back and forth, no one willing to give the other team any room.
Jaylee Long then went on a small streak of her own with five points in a row to put the Lions up 24-18, but Central Montcalm's Maia Sexton fought back with under the basket points, rebounds and 2nd chance points, putting the Hornets back within 2 with 3:12 left in the first half. The first 16 minutes of the game ended in a tie with 29 after Anna Brummel drained 2 from the side.
This continual back and forth went on through the third quarter. It was a true battle of wills from two outstanding teams. Every player on the floor, every sub coming in to relieve the tired players who were sprinting with everything they had, was holding strong on defense and putting up smart shots on offense. With 3:00 left in the 3rd quarter the teams were tied at 35, and then to end the quarter, the teams were still tied but at 39.
Though the fourth quarter started with Newaygo's Goodin hitting a shot on top of the key, putting the Lions up by 3, and then the teams continuing to trade points for the first 5 minutes, Central Montcalm broke the battle with 1:34 on the clock. Sexton of the Hornets was fouled, making one of two, but she came back to make the next layup, putting the Lions down by 3. From this they never recovered. Central Montcalm possessed the ball, hit their free throws and sealed the game. The Lions ended with 46, Hornets 52.
The boys game started much the same as the girls; slowly with not much scoring in the first few minutes. The remainder of the game after those minutes was nothing like the girls' game, however. Instead, it was a game of big runs by one team, and long droughts by the other.
The Lions' Jarrod Wismar got one point off the free throw line to start the scoring, while the Hornets then hit 2 of their own free throws. It wasn't until Asher Vissman of Central Montcalm hit a 3 that the scoring got on a roll.
Newaygo went on a run its first run of the game with Carlos Magana hitting a hard earned shot under the basket, Pascal Hermann hitting 2 then Ashton Stephens stealing the ball right away and getting his own 2 to put them up 13-7.
The fast paced 2nd quarter led the Lions to make only 2 points in the first 3:08, while the Hornets took advantage of their created opportunities and scored 6. With time running out in the half, with the score tied, Newaygo's David Gonzalez took it to the hoop, scored and made the free throw off the foul, putting the Lions up 24-21 at the half.
The beginning of the 2nd half, however, the Lions looked like they were out of it and would be unable to recover, down 26-32 after turnovers and committed fouls. But then Gonzalez, a senior who did not play his junior year and coming off the bench for the Lions, hit a 3, and then 2, and then immediately another 3 to keep the Lions in the game, tied at 34.
Newaygo's Wyatt Mortensen hit 3 after Central Montcalm's Vissman hit a 3. and going into the 4th quarter, the Lions were down by 1, with a score of 42-43.
But then the 4th quarter took its toll on the Lions yet again. Carlos Magana for Newaygo was giving it his all under the basket, working hard for points, but turnovers and fouls plagued the Lions and this time, the Central Montcalm run was too much. Newaygo lost with a score of 50-63.
Carlos Magana ended with 13 points and 7 rebounds while David Gonzalez ended with 13 points off the bench. Coach Barrette said "We battled through some mistakes and some flu tonight, but came up short down the stretch. Hats off to Central Montcalm down the stretch, they made more plays than we did."
Hoops Preview For Friday Games
Big Rapids at Fremont
How good are the Packers? Friday night should give this a good read when the Cardinals come to town. BR has won big in both games thus far but neither team they played has come close to winning in this young season. Fremont is 4-0 and struggled a bit against a physical Oriole team and none of their other three opponents have gotten off to roaring starts this season.
But man, both teams can score and a game in the 80’s looms as a distinct possibility.
As we said it’s early but these are likely contenders for the crown who meet again in February with just over half of the conference schedule in the books.
Central Montcalm at Newaygo
The Hornet football team came off a struggling year and marched to a conference title.
So what does that have to do with their basketball team you ask?
Maybe nothing but most schools that are not large enough to have a huge field of players to choose from go through cycles when it comes to athletic success.
So we don’t know what CM has got there. It’s early and their win was a tight one over a Grant team far better than their early record indicates.
Newaygo ran away from Chip Hils but were handled in their 2 losses and this is a team that wasn’t just hurt by graduation, it was beat up and dragged down the road by graduation. They will likely struggle in this tough conference but they have shown some grit already and should surprise some teams along the way.
Reed City at Grant.
The Tigers are perhaps the best 0-3 team around. They lost a squeaker to the Bees (yeah we know they’re the Hornets) and stayed with a pair of good teams in Kent City and Sparta. There is an intriguing mix of talent on this team that should play out well as the season progresses.
Reed City? Well Fremont could have easily doubled them up on the Coyote court and settled for a 83-44 romp.
White Cloud at Hesperia
The Panthers are having a rough time scoring averaging under 30 points a game. The Cloud opened with a win then fell short in their last two games.
WC doesn’t score a lot either but they will likely score more than enough Friday night.
Holton at Morley Stanwood
Interesting early season Silver matchup.The Devs have a pair of wins under their belt after an opening loss to Sparta while the ‘Hawks have won all 3 of their games but none of those teams seem destined to be heading for winning seasons.
MS is playing at home and has a couple of all conference returnees on their roster. Slowik Poling Wright and Trygstad can all score. Whether they can do it against the Mohawk defense playing in front of what is generally a pretty raucous MS crowd will determine their chances Friday
Central Montcalm at Newaygo
I like this Lions team a lot. When the Cloud tried to stifle the prolific scoring Long sisters they countered with Frisbie, Goodin, Ruehmeier Brummel et al. and Goodin can bang it on the boards with the best of them.
The Hornets ruled the courts last season but they also saw three key players depart and though they are demons on defense this Newaygo squad has a lot of offensive weapons that haven’t even begun to show what they’re capable of.
Big Rapids at Fremont.
The Cardinals are 5-0 and have held opponents to 25 points a game. The Packers took a really good Montague team to the edge before falling short and beat a solid Shelby squad. They also struggled to score against the Orioles on Tuesday.
They will need to score on Friday.
Probably a lot if they are going to stay with a Cardinal team looking to hit the break undefeated.
Reed City at Grant
The Coyotes haven’t come within 10 points of anyone yet but outside of the Packers the teams they’ve played are 10-2.
The Tigers got on the board with a win last week before getting stuffed by the Spartans Tuesday.
While Kirstyn Throop will always get her points she badly needs some help on the offensive end. If we were the opposing coach we would blanket her until the rest of the team showed they could score.
And we’re far from having the savvy of the mentors who prowl the sidelines.
White Cloud at Hesperia
The Cloud has some good players. Strait has come into her own on both ends and the scrappy Scarlavai is one of the most fun players to watch in the area with her all out all the time style of play.
The Panthers are playing tough against some rugged competition early on. They have the home court advantage but WC quite frankly, has more talent at this point.
Holton at Morley Stanwood
The ‘Hawks are undefeated, playing at home and have a whole lot more weapons than the Devils. Holton has trouble scoring averaging under 30 a game and MS has scored over 60 the past two times out.
Tuesday Hoops Wrap-up
Ludington 47 Fremont 26
The Packers ran into a strong defensive team on the road at Ludington. After a competitive first quarter that had the Packers in the lead 12-9, the Orioles’ pressure defense got to the Packers. Fremont turned it over 30 times in the game, and only tallied 8 second half points.
Calla Miller finished with 9 points, with Paige Vandenberg scoring 7 and pulling down 7 boards. The loss drops the Packers to 2-3 overall, and 1-0 in the conference. They play at home on Friday against Big Rapids.
Fremont 71 Montague 48
Coach Zerfas: “After an emotional and hard fought win Monday against Ludington we came out a little flat on the road against Montague. We did win every quarter, but Montague played hard and it was a hard fought win.”
The Packers edged out to a 17-15 lead after one and pushed their advantage to 6 points at the break. The second half saw them shake loose from the Wildcats building a 57-39 lead at the end of 3 and running away in the final frame.
Braiden McDonald fired in 28 points, while Tristan Campbell finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Carter Moon hit for 10 points Chris Kennedy dropped in 7 and Joshua Zerfas had 5 steals.
Fremont remains undefeated at 4-0 and will host the high scoring Cardinals of Big Rapids on Friday.
Holton 68 Newaygo 53
Aidan Poling had 22 points, Nathan Slowik had 19 points, Chip Wright had 12 points, and Drew Trygstad had 9 points. Newaygo was led by Wyatt Mortensen with 17 points and Ashton Stephens with 12.
The Lions will welcome in Central Montcalm Friday while the Devs hit the road for a Silver matchup with Morley Stanwood
Hart 61 Hesperia 24
Spartan Guards Slay Tigers
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Sparta 74 Grant 67
The Grant Tigers came into tonight’s match-up against the Spartans of Sparta with one goal; to put together thirty-two minutes of solid play and their first win for the season. The Spartans though brought their formidable weapons in their guards consisting of Chase Wilson, Conner West, and Sam Kerska who combined ended up putting sixty of Sparta’s seventy-four total points on the board.
To say this game could have easily gone to the Tigers is an understatement. Both teams battled hard and kept the game within easy reach. During the first quarter with Grant up by five, Coach Schuitema pulled his starters and gave time to his seconds; a move he stated he told his players he was going to do. This allowed Sparta to go on an eight point run and a three point lead to end the first quarter.
With Grant’s starters back in for the second quarter, they wasted no time in bringing the game back to the battle that was witnessed in the beginning of the first. While the Tigers managed to tie the game at nineteen within the first few minutes, the guards of Sparta seemed to be able to keep the edge through the quarter. By the time the half buzzer sounded, the Spartans headed into the locker room with a slim one point lead.
The third quarter would prove to be no different. Neither team was about to back down, but this time it would be Grant’s guard Carter Chase that would keep the edge for Grant. With help from Seth Schuitema, the duo gave Grant a five point advantage late in the third before the Spartans narrowed the margin to draw within two points of Grant’s lead before closing the quarter.
As what was becoming typical of this game, the Spartan guards, mainly Sam Kerska, somehow found the chinks in Grant’s armor and exploited those openings with timely threes. Thus began the fourth quarter. With Grant’s Diesel Rose fouling out early, the Spartans could smell blood. Schuitema and Chase did their best to keep the game within striking distance. With a minute remaining the Tigers were only down by five. To anyone who knows basketball, a minute is a very long time. The Tigers tried to slow the Spartan guards and clock with intentional fouls, but neither was about to be stopped. At the final buzzer, it was the Spartans who would preserver the battle.
“I feel like we competed well. I feel like we created a lot of good shot opportunities for ourselves against a pretty physical and athletic defense. I feel like we tried to limit their guard play with some guys working hard, but their guards are good,” stated Joel Schuitema, Grant’s coach. “As you saw down the stretch, they made really good plays, really good decisions, and it turned out for their side. I feel like we are doing a lot of good things, but we need to do them for thirty-two minutes, and I don’t think we’ve seen that yet in three games.”
Leading in tonight’s efforts for Grant was Carter Chase and Seth Schuitema each with twenty-one points. Orion Evans put up fourteen points, and Elliot Butchart had the remaining eleven. The Tigers will next face Reed City in a conference match-up on Friday in Grant. Game time is 7:30 pm.