Cagers Return- Who Will Rise?
Area teams get ready for a 2 month run
By Ken DeLaat
Newaygo 1-5, 1-2
What a difference a year makes, huh? Of course having 4 starters graduate (3 of whom are playing college ball), and losing your #6 to transfer along with an injury or two and you are looking at an uphill climb.
The Lions are Varsity young and it has been apparent during the first month of the season that they will struggle to score in a conference that possesses a number of high scoring teams.. Coach Thomasma will ensure that his team will progress as the season moves on but fans better keep the expectations on the lower end of the scale. The Lions have averaged just over 20 points a game and that is not going to get you a lot of W’s.
Newaygo returns to action later in the week when they face Grant.
Grant 4-2, 2-1
The Tigers are in the hunt with Morley, Kent City and BR with CM’s Hornets being another possible contender. They are fast and can win most of the track meets by outscoring opponents. Ashbaugh has made her case as best player in the area and few could argue given her early season performance. In the loss to the Lakers she was doubled nearly all night and still dropped 18. These players are fun to watch and will be making some noise this season but after the loss to Morley they will need to get past the Cards, Eagles and Hornets to have a shot at the title.
Grant returns with a 3 game week facing Sparta (2-3) Montague (3-3 and Newaygo (1-5).
White Cloud 4-2, 1-1
A 4-0 start was sweet for the Cloud before running into a pair of title contending teams (MCC,CM) who dominated the WC defense to the tune of about 60 points each. Still, this is a good team and Coach Wilk has done a great job getting the most out of them. They’re going to need to score more, a lot more, to stay with some of the high scoring teams ahead of them on the schedule so we shall see how they fare in that category. They return with a trip to Big Rapids.The Cards are undefeated (7-0) but take note: the teams they have beaten thus far have a 7-33 record.
Fremont 1-6, 0-2
The Packers had a tough schedule in December and their record shows it. 5 of the 6 losses are to teams with a winning record. While the defense has been adequate the scoring has been inconsistent so far which showed in their last couple of games before the break. Coach Zerlaut’s team returns with a 3 game week and have a good shot at picking up a couple of W’s with TC (0-6) coming to town and a trip to OV (0-7) before meeting Montague (3-3) Friday. It could be the week the Packers turn around their season or they could fall a bit deeper into the Lakes Division standings. Let’s hope it's the former.
Hesperia 1-6, 0-3
The Panthers have lost 6 straight since a season opener win over Walkerville.
They have had an terrible time putting the ball in the basket and are allowing well over 50 points a game. Give them a lot of credit because they are out there fighting each game against far more talent than they possess. The season may not bring a great deal of success on the court but these girls haven’t tossed in the towel. They return with a visit to Ravenna (2-3) where the Bulldogs have also experienced a few scoring droughts.
Holton 3-3, 1-2
The Red Devils are on a 2 game win streak and play this weekend in the Reed City Invitational. The bad news is they open with a game against an undefeated and likely to be state ranked team in Ithaca. The Yellow Jackets will be a tough test for Coach Jordan’s squad and after Saturday’s game against either Reed City or Midland Calvary Baptist they return to conference play next week with a visit to Shelby (4-3). The Devs may not contend for the title in a tough Rivers Division but if they can continue to score like they have the past two games they will fare better than they did in December.
How area teams fared in December and what might lie ahead
By Ken DeLaat
Newaygo 3-3, 2-0
The losses include not closing in a seesaw battle with a rugged Montague team, getting blasted by an elite Northview squad and the loss to OV when the offense failed to get any early traction. The wins include a pair of impressive comebacks to end the year and an early W over a CM team that will be looking up at most teams in the CSAA this season.
If the Lions find some ever elusive consistency they have the weapons to do some damage in the conference race. I like the starting five and they can go deep into the bench without getting hurt. There are teams on the schedule that will pose some big problems in matchups but they will likely win more this season than they will lose.
They return to action with a home game against Ravenna (1-3) and a Friday showdown in Grant.
Grant 3-2, 1-1
The Tigers aren’t tall but they are tough and have started by sandwiching three wins between a pair of losses to 2 pretty good squads. They have impressed N3’s erstwhile sports correspondent Mike Gesler (no easy task) and seemed poised to put together a strong season with a nice mixture of players who can score and defend. Teams with height are going to give them trouble but Coach Schuitema knows how to get the best out of his players and no one will leave a game with the Grant ballers and not know they were in a battle. They return with a trip to Sparta and a rivalry matchup with Newaygo at home
White Cloud 4-1, 2-0
Those 4 wins to open the season were impressive but the first time the Cloud ran into a team with a winning record (Baldwin) they got stuffed. Still, Coach Jones’ boys look to be a pretty good team that will continue to surprise their conference opponents with their tenacity.
They return with 3 really, really tough games in a row; the first 2 will be on the road against teams that feast on opponents in their home gym. If they can win one of those 3 they will be better than most. If they win 2 they would likely be contenders. And should they somehow and improbably sweep all 3 against BR, MCC and Grant? Get ready for a bunch of folks hopping on that bandwagon.
Fremont 2-2, 1-1
It’s early in the season but thus far the Pack has played 2 good teams (Ludington, BR) and lost each by around 20 points while picking up a pair of expected wins over Oakridge and Shelby.
In terms of conference play they still need to face a strong Whitehall team twice and another game with Ludington looms as well.
They return with a home game against a struggling Tri County team before returning to conference play on the road against a scrappy Montague squad. It looks to be an interesting season for Packer fans. There’s some fun talent on this team and the next couple weeks should indicate if they will be in the hunt.
Hesperia 1-5, 1-1
A win over Holton just before the holiday break broke a 5 game skid that opened their season.
Coach Worcester has been patient with his developing team over two seasons and the win over the Devils won’t be their last. But they are going to find the going tough when they face the conference elite teams like the Pirates and Spartans. Hesperia has long been a wrestling school this time of year but the cagers are coming and give the program some time and one day it could be basketball will fill the gym like the grapplers do.
Holton 0-5, 0-2
The Devils are still finding themselves this season after losing a lot of leadership from last year's successful squad. Coach Swanson doesn’t have a lot of length on the bench and any foul trouble is likely to hurt. 4 of their next 5 will see them facing some of the toughest teams on their schedule and they will have to excel to stay in those games. Swanson is a good coach and his team will improve over the rest of the season but Devil fans shouldn’t be expecting a lot of numbers on the left side of the column this season.
Hesperia 48 Holton 45
Hesperia held home court and picked up their first win of the season in their rivalry game with the Red Devils. The Panthers edged out to a 7 point lead at intermission but the Devs battled back to take a 3 point lead heading into the final frame. The teams battled in the 4th with Hesperia finishing on top.
Coach Worcester: “Last night we played up to our potential. We made a lot of improvements offensively and we trusted each other on defense. I’m happy for our guys. Last night's win was huge for our team, our coaching staff, our school and community. Holton is very well coached; you can’t count them out. Last night was a great game to be part of. However, we will enjoy this win but there is still a lot to improve.”
Coach Swanson: “Very competitive rivalry game. We came out on the wrong side but I'm proud of how my guys played. Coach Wocester just continues to do a great job with his guys. We will learn from this game and move on.”
Ethan O’Neal paced the Panther scoring knocking down 14 points while Matteo Materdomini hit for 10 and Maddox Mosely finished with 8.Carter Brant was hot for the Devils dropping 19 points, pulling down 9 boards and dishing out 3 assists with Brodrick Fialek also reaching double figures with 16 points to go with his 3 assists.
Hesperia (1-1, 1-5) is off the floor until January 10th when they host Walkerville.
Holton (0-2, 0-5) will search for their first victory Friday when they host Ravenna,,,weather permitting.
Glen Lake 61 Fremont 16
The Packers traveled to Ferris State University to play in the Holiday Hoops Showcase against Maple City Glen Lake on Tuesday. The game was dominated by the Lakers from the beginning. It was 16-3 after the first quarter, 41-5 at the half, and 53-9 after three quarters. Fremont scored 6 baskets from the field on only 29 shot attempts (21%). They had 33 turnovers on the night. Glen Lake shot 26-56 from the field (46%).
Khaila Noordyk had 6 points for Fremont. Glen Lake was led by Morgan Bradford with 13, Rachel Hogan with 12, and Emily Valkner with 9.
Fremont fell to 1-5 (0-2 WMC Lakes) on the season. Glen Lake improved to 4-0. Fremont hosts Sparta on Wednesday, December 21.
Coach Zerlaut -- "We faced a very good opponent tonight, and didn't show up to play. They were more skilled than us, but we didn't play as hard or as disciplined as we needed to in order to be competitive. We need to compete on every single possession; we did not; and that falls squarely on my shoulders."
It's Just Who He Is
It’s Just Who He Is
Story and photos by Alexis Mercer
Why would a three-time State Champion, two-time Runner Up, coach to many players who went on as collegiate and even NFL players, choose to come to a small town school like Newaygo?
“It’s just who he is.”
This according to his wife, Kathy, who sat by his side at the board meeting for his official approval on Monday, December 20 and then attended the meeting today he had with his players to introduce himself. She smiled happily watching him shake the hands of his new athletes and she explained how he was so excited to be part of this.
Munger spent the last two years assisting at Mancelona and felt he was ready for more. “I really think it is a God thing,” he said in response to a question by the press about coming to Newaygo. He felt called to lead another team.
His daughter, Cassidy Munger, posted on social media a similar sentiment earlier this week when the news was first released by Newaygo Public Schools that her dad would be taking over the Lions program. “It’s what he knows best,” she said.
But “it” is more than just football. Cassidy clarified by saying that he knows best how to impact the lives of young men through the game of football. That it is so much more than the game.
Coach was quite clear in his response when asked how he plans to rebuild the program at Newaygo. “Rebuild?” he asked with genuine passion. “Man, we are going to restore the roar! Bottom line, I don’t look at the rebuilding part of it. You guys (to his players) don’t want to hear about the rebuilding part of it, do you?”
“I want to get to work. I want to get to be as good as we can be. I want to get to work on the field. I want to compete,” said Munger with a smile and excitement in his voice.
Many of the players who will be on the first Newaygo team under Munger’s leadership sat in the cafetorium today to meet him for the first time. While quiet and respectful, there was a buzz in the air.
When Coach Munger was talking, they were certainly listening. After Coach answered questions from both his future players and others who came to hear him introduce himself, the boys lined up and had a chance to shake his hand and introduce themselves.
“I want to have an impact on these young men so they have something to remember and enjoy both now and in years to come,” Coach Munger says.
So what keeps him motivated after spending time at Frankenmuth, then 28 years at Rockford, and most recently a couple at Mancelona? That’s a whole lifetime of hard work already.
As Munger says: “It’s the relationships. I love the game so much because in that game are so many values that can be taught that will help young men later in life. I guess that’s what brings me back. Also what brings me back is the Good Lord saying you have your health, so hey, let’s do it again.”
A Trio Of Monday Hoop Results
Another Comeback, A First Loss, An Offensive Drought
Newaygo 49 Evart 45
Newaygo was able to come up with a solid 4th quarter to get the road win over the Wildcats.. Down by 4 entering the final frame the Lions once again clawed their way back to grab a one point lead at the 30 second mark. The game was tight throughout the contest and came down to the visitors hitting those key free throws down the stretch. The Newaygo defense held Evart to just 6 4th quarter points
Bryce Decker paced the Lion scoring attack knocking down16 points and grabbing 8 rebounds while Caris Nelson hit for 10 points and Blake Kerr dropped in 9.
Newaygo (2-0, 3-3) returns to action after the holiday break with a home game against the Bulldogs of Ravenna
Baldwin 61 White Cloud 39
White Cloud suffered their first loss of the season in a battle of the unbeatens with the Panthers
Coach Jones: “We picked the wrong night to play bad defense and not hit shots.A bad combination for any team. You can have one on any given night but not both of them and expect to win. We will regroup and be ready for our next game after the break.”
Jared Watson led the offensive attack with 14 points. Noah Robinson hit the nets for 9 points, with KJ Strait scoring8 and Christian Ringler adding 6.
White Cloud (2-0, 4-1) will be idle until January 6 when they will travel to Big Rapids for a matchup with the Cardinals.
FHE 53 Newaygo 8
The Hawks came into the Cornerstone Classic riding a 4 game winning streak and quickly jumped out to a 22-5 lead after one then cruised to the win.
Coach Thomasma:"I thought our girls competed and played better than we did on Friday. We have a young group that is seeing the sustained intensity that is needed to compete on the Varsity level against good competition. I'm seeing good things in spurts but we need to be more consistent if we want to play with and beat good teams."
Friday Hoop Roundup
Boys: Cloud Remains Undefeated, Coyotes Clip Tigers
Girls; Tigers Triumph, Hornets Sting WC, Panthers Tamed By Tigers
Photos by Bobbi Cruzan
White Cloud 66 Central Montcalm 50
White Cloud continued its winning ways as they blasted the visiting Hornets taking a 17 point lead by the half then entering the 4th up by 24.
Coach Jones: “We started a little slow tonight but found our rhythm midway through the 1st. This was another totally team victory,with nine of the ten players that played scoring.
It seems like every night someone else leads us or has a big night off the bench.We keep this up and we’re going to be a tough team to play.”
KJ Strait had a game high 21 points, Jared Watson dropped in 15, Dominick Burkhart hit for 9 and Noah Robinson added 7.
White Cloud (2-0, 4-0) will head to Baldwin Monday to face another undefeated team in the 4-0 Panthers.
Reed City 53 Grant 43
Down by 15 at the half the Tigers battled back to pull within 6 points with 2 minutes left but they couldn’t inch any closer and the Coyotes held them off for the conference win.
A cold shooting night was the issue Friday night as the Tigers scored more than 20 points below their early season average.
Oakley Obenauf paced the scoring for the visitors with 16 points with Austin Whitney hit for 9.
Reed City’s Xavier Allen led all scorers with 23.
Grant (1-1, 3-2) will be idle until a January 3rd trip to Sparta.
Grant 51 Reed City 44
Down by 9 after one, the Tigers found their groove and racked up a 24 point second quarter to take a one point lead to the locker room.
Coach Delamater: “These young ladies have a lot of grit. It was a terrible drive up and we arrived late. They literally got dressed and we walked onto the court with no pregame and just the 15 minutes of warm-up. RC started hot, hitting 2 3's on the first 2 possessions and just like that we were scrambling to get our wits about us. The second quarter was much better with Jayci Hance getting hot scoring 9 in the quarter. After the half, both teams played aggressive, hard nose defense resulting in two low scoring quarters for both teams. Ultimately, we made our free throws down the stretch to seal the game.”
Julie Ashbaugh once again paced the Tiger attack dropping 17 on the Coyotes while Jaycee Hance knocked down 15 and Jocee Pleune hit for 9.
Grant (2-1, 3-2) will welcome in Holton on Tuesday.
Central Montcalm 61 White Cloud 38
After 4 straight wins to begin the season the Cloud has now dropped two in a row.
Coach Wilk: “After our last game we wanted to see heart and toughness from our girls, and I felt like they did a great job tonight even though the score was not in our favor. Most nights we are going to be the smaller team, so we need to make up for it with hustle and speed. Unfortunately Central Montcalm brought too much size tonight, and they dominated the boards. In the first quarter Central Montcalm took an early lead 11-0, but our girls made a few minor defensive adjustments that helped us stay in the game for most of the night. We were able to end the first quarter down 8 to 16, and then we outscored them by one in the 2nd. The score at halftime was 19 to 26. The third frame was pretty even with them outscoring us 16 to 13. Going into the fourth quarter down ten we had to switch up our defense, and they were able to get a few easy buckets to extend their lead. The final score shows a 23 point difference, but the game was much closer than that. The Hornets were 18 for 23 at the free throw line, so that really helped their case tonight. We were 9 for 19 from the charity stripe.
“Gaby Reeve led us tonight with 16 points, and Jaden Gomez added 10 points as well. Annie Feldpausch contributed 6 points, Kiara Edwards had 4 points, and Brooke Ringler added a pair of free throws to round out our scoring.
“I’m glad we have a couple of days off before our next game. The injury bug hit us this week, and we had half our team feeling under the weather the last couple of days as well. We need a few days to regroup and get healthy before our last game before break. I am very happy with how hard these girls worked the last couple of days, and I hope we get to play Central Montcalm again later in the season."
White Cloud (1-1, 4-2) will welcome in the Falcons of Pentwater on Tuesday.
Shelby 55 Hesperia 25
The Tigers took a 13-9 edge after one then held the visiting Panthers to a single second period bucket by Isabel Valdes as they built the lead to a 28-11 lead by intermission then cruised to the win.Mia Milner led the Panthers with 10 points and Samy Logana added 8.
Hesperia (0-3, 1-6) is idle until January 5th when they take on Ravenna in a conference battle.
Lions Roar Back For Comeback Win
Eagles fly past Lady Lions
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
Newaygo 38 Kent City 36
The Lion's shooting matched the weather outside at the onset of the game.
While playing some rugged defense the hosts could not get the ball to go down and the Eagles had them down 10-1 when the first quarter ended with an early split at the line by Josiah Long accounting for the lone Newaygo point.
After a Jaret Jaramillo hoop for KC, Caris Nelson broke the Lion drought by nailing a three pointer then after Dylan Sutton converted a pair from the line Grant Harkness fired another from distance to keep the Eagles in sight. The game began to get more physical and soon after Bryce Decker split from the stripe he was called for his third foul sending the teams top scorer to the bench. The shooting woes would continue for the Lions but the Eagles weren’t faring much better and the half ended with KC increasing their lead by one to a 22-12 margin.
Despite the double digit lead the game was far from being out of reach. The Lions just needed a hot hand or two to make a run. Decker having 3 fouls was going to hurt and the Eagles knew he was going to be vulnerable and likely to be going after him in order to get him on the bench during crunch time. To get back in the game the Lions would have to make a move early. When the half began Jaramillo and Seth Vanderwest hit buckets answered only by a Harkness 2 and Newaygo was down by a dozen. That’s when the Lions began to roar.
Caris Nelson scored 4 unanswered points then Decker caught fire with a basket and a dramatic triple. After yet another stop by Newaygo, Long fired a beauty of a pass to a waiting Decker who laid it in and suddenly it was a one point game entering the final frame. The momentum had clearly shifted and with a raucous crowd exhorting them on, the Lions had fire in their eyes.
The quarter began with a Kyle Larson split at the line answered by a triple from Long that delivered the first Newaygo lead at 28-27. After a stop, Decker fired another from distance to push the lead to 4 but Jaramillo was fouled on a three point shot and calmly sank all 3 to pull KC within 1. Decker hit for another bucket but soon after was whistled for foul # 4. He and his counterpart Vanderwest had been battling all night and both were one foul from sitting out the rest of the game. Larson made it to the line again then added a bucket to put the Eagles up 36-35 with less than a minute and a half left on the clock and the ball in their possession.
A turnover got the ball into Nelson’s hands and he delivered to put the Lions up 1. Another stop and a foul sent Nelson to the line where he split to make it a 2 point game. The Lions regained possession but missed the front end of a 1:1 giving the Eagles one last shot with 15 ticks left.
Jaramillo was fouled on a drive and went to the line needing both to tie. After coming up empty on his first he needed to purposely miss in hopes of getting the ball in the hands of a teammate but Newaygo recovered the rebound and the game clock finally hit zero. giving the Hosts their second conference win.
Coach Long: “The end of the third quarter we were able to knock down a few shots and get a little rhythm on offense. That gave us good energy in the fourth.”
The Lions showed a lot of heart in this game. When not much was happening on offense they doubled down on the other end of the court to keep the Eagles from running away with it. Decker and Long shook off some early misses to hit some clutch triples and Nelson came through when his team really needed a boost but It was the defensive play of the whole team that impressed the most. Remy Wells, Blake Kerr and Dyllan Bazzette helped keep the Eagles in sight and Jarryn Schmitt logged some crucial minutes when Decker was sitting. This was a team win and the long bench of the Lions helped bring it home.
Newaygo was led by Bryce Decker with 13 points and 7 rebounds followed by Caris Nelson's 10 points and Grant Harkness adding 8.
Jaramillo led the Eagles in scoring with a dozen and Larson finished with 10.
Newaygo (2-0, 2-3) will visit Evart Monday before being off until a January 3rd home game with Ravenna.
Kent City 62 Newaygo 11
Kent City is a really good team and on Friday their serious offensive firepower sent a message to all challengers.
Bring it on.
Led by all state and Northwood University bound Lexie Bowers the Eagles did what they do best. Hit from distance. They rained 10 triples down on the Lions who had no answers for the offensive onslaught.
Coach Thomasma: “We just got beat by a good team tonight. We are young and we struggled on offense and a team like Kent City is going to expose mistakes and we made way too many." "I got good hard working character kids in my locker room and we're going to continue to work to keep getting better."
Grace Painter finished with 5 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Lions.
Newaygo (1-2, 1-3) will take their game to the Cornerstone Holiday Tournament next week beginning with a Monday matchup with Forest Hills Eastern and a second game on Wednesday.
For Immediate Release
December 16, 2022
Newaygo Lions name Ralph Munger as Head Coach
Newaygo, MI- Pending board approval on December 19, the Newaygo Lions welcome Ralph Munger as their next Varsity Football Coach.
Munger is expected to be introduced at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 at Newaygo High School in the cafeteria.
Munger has spent the last two (2) seasons as an assistant coach in Mancelona, prior to that he coached at Rockford for 18 years and 12 years at Frankenmuth. He has led Rockford to 3 state championships, 2 state runner ups and multiple conference, district and regional championships.
Devils Split, Panthers Pummeled
Holton 49 Muskegon Catholic 29
The Devils routed the Crusaders on the MCC home court building a 31-15 lead by intermission and keeping the hosts in check to secure the win.
Coach Jordan: “Our goal was to get back to 500 this week and we accomplished that, but we didn’t play a complete game. Second half was sloppy and we were just going through the motions at times and didn’t have the energy we needed to compete to our best abilities. We will have to clean up a lot and get ready for a good Grant team that has a player (Julie Ashbaugh) that can take over a game.”
Abbie Fowler was all over the court as she dished out 6 assists, grabbed 7 off the glass, pilfered 10 steals and dropped 11 points for good measure. Ryann Robins led the scoring parade with 21 points and added a game high 13 boards. Courtney Boes also hit for double figures in scoring with 11 points to go with her 9 rebounds and 3 steals.
Holton (1-2, 3-3) will visit Grant on Tuesday.
Mason County Central 52 Holton 30
The Spartans have been tagged as a strong contender for the conference crown and their visit to Holton did nothing to diminish that notion. The visitors jumped out to a 22-9 lead after one and by halftime the Red Devils were staring at a 19 point deficit 35-16.
Credit to the RD’s for putting up a fight in the second half but on this night the Spartans proved more than the Devils could contain.
Coach Swanson: “Mason County Central presented a lot of challenges for us. Despite the loss I was very happy with the way our guys persevered. We will take positives from tonight.”
Carter Brant hit for 13 points to lead the Devils while Brodrick Fialek and Nathan Paseka shared board honors collecting 6 apiece. Fialek also added 7 points. Willn Chye was red hot for the Spartans knocking down 31 on the night.
Holton (0-1, 0-4) will visit Hesperia (0-1, 0-5) 0n Tuesday.
North Muskegon 60 Hesperia 14
The Norse put a stranglehold on the Panther offense as they cruised to the Rivers Division win.
Coach Worcester: “North Muskegon came out strong and played great on both ends of the floor. Certainly a tough one for our first conference game in the West Michigan Conference. We accomplished a few goals defensively that we can be happy with. I’m proud of the effort and commitment to improving. Offensively we still struggle to make open shots. However, we will continue to work hard and improve all areas going forward.
“N. Muskegon was very classy and respectful; something that speaks volumes for their program. With that said, we turn our focus on to our rival game against Holton next week.”
Matteo Materdomini and Ethan O’Neal each finished with 4 points for the Panthers.
Hesperia (0-1, 0-5) will host the Red Devils on Tuesday
Grant Tested By Spring Lake
Photos and Story by Mike Gesler
Spring Lake 48 Grant 40
I have to admit that I have been a little disappointed that I have not been able to see the Grant ladies play until now. After last year’s season, I have been looking forward to observing the Tigers in battle once more. Even though I haven’t been able to see them physically play, I have been keeping tabs on their action. Needless to say, following the numbers the team, and especially Ashbaugh, have put up, an average of 59 points per game thus far, I was stoked to finally have my opportunity to attend a game.
I knew going in that Spring Lake was going to test Grant on every facet of play. Last year the Lakers finished 14-9 and second behind ever dominate West Catholic in the OK – Blue Conference. The Lakers also opened this year’s season against Fremont, handing Fremont a loss and chalking up their first win. Laker’s coach, Rich Hyde, would be certain to have his ladies prepared to shut down Ashbaugh, and test this young Tiger team to its core.
“The AD last year asked me about who I’d like to play,” stated Josh Delamater, Grant’s coach. “I said I want to play the best teams; Spring Lake, Ludington, Sparta, they have to be on our schedule because that’s the teams that are going to make us better. Before the game I said to the girls, this is about showing people that you can compete. I mean 3-1 against the teams that we’ve played, okay. But going up against a team that’s perennially good and competing with them is a huge deal for us.”
While the outcome may not have put another “W” in the Tigers early season, Coach Delamater and this Tiger’s squad certainly got the competition they were looking for.
“I’ve told [the girls] all season it’s going to be a month of games before we’re really running on all cylinders,” stated Delamater. “We’re seeing sparks. You know you see brilliant stretches. Five minutes of good basketball and then we make a couple mistakes.”
And that is basically how this game went.
Spring Lake was first to get on the board with two before Makayla Zerlaut found herself a good look outside the arc to put the Tigers on with three. The Lakers would then go on a nine point run, and pretty much dominate all aspects of the game. Emma Thompson and Julie Ashbaugh stopped the bleeding just before the quarter’s end to pull the Tigers within five.
The Tigers would dominate the beginning of the second with three from Jocee Pleune and two on the line from Jayci Hance to tie up the game. The two teams would then exchange blows before Spring Lake would once again assert their dominance and go on another run to extend their lead by six at the half.
The third quarter was Grant’s best. While Spring Lake started the quarter with a five point run, Grant rallied with a run of their own between Ashbaugh and Hance to bring the Tigers within four. That run extended slightly into the final quarter as Ashbaugh hit another two. In the end though, the Lakers simply found ways to edge out the Tigers and head home with a win.
“I thought we competed the entire game,” stated Delamater. “I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew it was going to be physical. We talked about that. We’re still very young. Really Julie, Jayci, and Jocee Pleune are the three coming back with a lot of court experience. Madison and Makayla are coming with experience but not as much on the court, and I thought they did a fantastic job tonight of going out and playing good quality minutes. And then the four girls in the rotation, Alexa, Reese, Emma Thompson, and Danica give us good quality minutes coming off the bench…But youthfulness shows, and inexperience shows. That’s good...I’m super proud of how we played tonight.”
Julie Ashbaugh put up eighteen in the Tiger’s efforts tonight with ten points contributed by Jayci Hance. Jocee Pleune and Makayla Zerlaut each had three, and Danica Gee, Emma Thompson, and Madison Thompson provided two each. Grant will travel north for a conference game to face the Coyotes of Reed City in Reed City on Friday evening. That game will be broadcast on the NHFS Network webpage at 6:00 pm.