Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Coopersville 79 Grant 48
After coming off a first round District win against near north rival Newaygo, Grant would need to get through a very good and athletic Coopersville team if they wanted a shot at the District title. The Coopersville Broncos came into tonight’s match up with a 12-5 record, and the number one seed in the District bracket. This was not going to be an easy game for Grant.
Coopersville asserted their dominance right from the whistle. Grant’s pass in to start the game was picked off by Jack Castenholz who gave the Broncos their first points and the lead for the remainder of the game. Coopersville would go up three more before Seth Schuitema drained a three to give Grant their first points. Midway through the first, Grant managed to pull the game back within two before Coopersville opened the margin up again and closed the quarter with an eight point lead.
The second quarter was not kind to Grant. They only managed to put four on the board, and three of those four were from an early three by Gage Burrows. Coopersville however did not slow down, and took an eighteen point lead into the half with the score 35-17.
Grant came out of the locker room undeterred and ready to battle the Broncos for every point. In fact they almost doubled their first half efforts with thirty-one points in the second half. Now that would have been heroic against most of the teams Grant faced this season, but those thirty-one second half points were no match for the forty-four points that Coopersville put up. Thus when the final buzzer sounded, Coopersville left a statement for their next opponent that a District title runs through Coopersville and you better bring your A game.
“I thought our guys played hard, and were trying to compete. I’m real proud of them,” stated Grant’s coach, Joe Schuitema. “I don’t think they gave up. The score was out of reach for quite a while, and they kept working at it and kept giving it their effort. We’re real proud of them. Obviously, it is always disappointing to lose. Real happy with the way the season ended for us in the last couple weeks. I think that was kind of the look we thought we would have all year.
The only Tiger reaching double digits tonight was Seth Schuitema with twelve. Orion Evans had nine, followed by Cole Lesley and Gage Burrows each with eight. Brett Long, Payton Swinehart, and Elliot Butchart each had three, and Isaac Higgins finished with two.
The Tigers will return four next year with only Seth Schuitema having starting experience. The other returning players will be Matthew Mansfield, Isaac Higgins, and Sawyer Carr. This will give the Tigers a young and inexperienced team. Carr should give the Tigers an inside body to replace Evans and Butchart. What Grant will need is to gain another shooter or two to take the pressure off of Schuitema, and a hustler like Brett Long who can work both sides of the court. Without that, the Tiger Nation could face a dismal season next