Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
Newaygo 51 Grant 32
The Tigers kept it close for about 6 minutes taking an early lead on a triple by Kassidy Doornbos that was answered by a pair of Jaylee Long buckets followed by a Jaxi Long strike from distance to put the Lions up 7-3
Jaycee Rider fired one in from beyond the arc and Kirstyn Throop connected for Grant and the Tigers regained the advantage at 8-7.
It was the last lead Grant would see on the night.
Lily Ruehmeier who sank some key shots all evening connected on a jumper and after a steal Jaxi Long was fouled and converted twice from the stripe. After a stop Jaxi Long hit for 2 followed by another Ruehmeier bucket and the quarter ended with Newaygo holding a 15-8 lead.
In the 2nd Doornbos stopped the Lion run with a basket but it was their only points of the quarter while Newaygo got scores from Jaylee Long, Sophia Frisbie and Ruehmeier off a nasty pass from Frisbie threading the needle to provide her teammate with a layup and the score landed at 21-10 at intermission.
The Lions came out confident in the third and rained down 22 points while holding the Tigers to two baskets, both coming from Sara Arends off steals. The 4th began with Newaygo clearly in charge at 43-14 and while the Tigers kept battling the Lions had this one on ice.
Jaxi Long led the Lions with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals, while Ruehmeier canned 10 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Emmerson Goodin dropped in 7 to go with her 7 boards and Jaylee Long dished out 5 assists and hit for 8 points.
The Lions came to play tonight as Kendall Mathis snared a trio of defensive rebounds early on, Kayla Fisk came off the bench and proved bothersome for the Tiger offense with her high energy D, and Frisbie, relieved of the scoring duties she shouldered Monday by a hot Lion offense, focused on playmaking and her usual fiery defense.
Coach Thomasma "Great win for the girls tonight. They worked really hard and together on both ends of the floor and it showed. It's a rivalry game with Grant who are always well prepared, so we're happy that we came out with the win. We'll enjoy it for a bit tonight but we have a tough and well-coached Sparta team coming up on Friday that we will need to be ready for.”
Sparta 44 Comstock Park 41
Stop McKenna Bent.
That was the key to beating the Panthers and the task taken on by Spartan Junior Kensey Armock with some help from her teammates.
And while it is difficult to stop a player like Bent, Armock certainly helped contain her holding the talented CP senior to 13 points 2 nights after she dropped 38 on Tri County.
The intensity of Armock transferred to the offensive end as well as she led her team with 15 points.
The game got off to an intriguing start as Sparta ran off a dozen points before Bent got Park on the board with a basket and foul shot with 24 seconds left in the first.
The Panthers rallied at the start of the second with scores from Bent, Katelyn Heintzelman and Aliyah Durry but the Spartans answered with an 8-0 run featuring a pair of Britten Busen baskets and one by Kenzie Howland. Then after Durry and Julia McKay scored for CP Breanna Driscoll lasered a triple and Ashley Cowdrey took a Busen pass for a 2 pointer and the half ended with Sparta up 28-13.
The third saw Park mount a comeback with Bent hitting a pair from distance and the lead whittled down to 5 entering the final frame.
Bent scored the first basket of the 4th and the Panthers crept within 3 points but Armock, Paige Wilson and Bella Vallone each hit off stops by the defense and the lead went to 9 points.
Leah Rings hit nets twice and Katelyn Heintzlman converted a pair of free throws and Park got the game back to 3 with less than a minute left.
Armock was fouled and split from the line then Emily Heintzlman hit for 2 to bring the Panthers to within a pair of points again.
The teams split free throws at both ends but with seconds left Cowdrey put it out of reach converting 2 from the stripe and giving the Spartans the win.
The two teams will go to battle Friday at 7pm Friday in Fremont with the winner advancing to Regional play in Sparta where they will face the survivior of the GR Catholic Central/GR Christian game.