Lion comeback sends them to the district semis
Newaygo 51 Fremont 46
In our tourney preview of this game we talked about the struggles Newaygo had with finishing in their first two matchups with Fremont.
Boy, did they ever finish.
The Lions entered the 4th quarter down 10 points to a relentless Packer squad who broke out of the locker room to erase a 25-23 deficit with a 15-3 run that limited the Lions to a trio of free throws while Chloe Shriver Natalie Jamieson, Calla Miller and Paige Vandenberg took turns providing the offense and dominating the defensive glass. Jaxi Long finally scored a bucket for Newaygo as the quarter wound down but Vandenberg knocked down a jumper at the buzzer to keep the deficit at 10.
The way the teams had battled tightly all night with the lead changing hands 8 times in a rugged and physical first half campaign a 10 point advantage looked to loom large despite the spectre of foul trouble lurking for Miller and Jamieson.
Newaygo Coach Thomasma: “The girls had an opportunity to hang their heads going into the 4th quarter and they refused to.”
Emmerson Goodin got to the line and split a pair followed by a bucket by Sophia Frisbie and a return to the stripe by Goodin who aced both. Then Jaxi Long who had been smothered by Shriver all night banged home a triple and off a steal Jaylee Long found the nets for 2 and halfway through the quarter the seemingly large lead had evaporated and we had a tie game.
A time out did nothing to put out the fire lit under the Lions as they seized the lead behind a Jaxi Long basket. Packer Kaitlynn Bennett stopped the bleeding momentarily with a bucket but Frisbie who had come up huge all night for the Lions scored, was fouled and hit the extra point then Jaylee Long followed her to the stripe converting both and the Lion lead went to 5 with a minute and a half left.
A Vandenberg basket cut it to 3 but the Lions took the air out of the ball forcing a foul plagued Packer team to send them to the line, Jaylee Long split a pair then on the Packer possession Shriver was fouled and converted both. With 30 seconds left on the clock and Newaygo clinging to a 2 point lead Fremont sent Lily Ruehmeier to the line. Ruehmeier had been scoreless in the second half after hitting a pair of crucial first quarter shots when the Pack had leapt to an early lead, but she calmly sank both tries and delivered the lead the Packers could not overcome.
This was an epic matchup featuring a pair of quality teams with ample heroics on both sides of the court. Goodin and Vandenberg battled in the paint all night. Goodin finished with 10 points and 11 boards and Vandenberg swatted away 6 Lion attempts while dropping in a dozen and snaring 9 rebounds. Shriver (11) and Miller (10) reached double figures and put on display their patented defense while Jaylee Long dished out 6 assists scored 8 points and finished with 6 off the glass. Avery Curnett and Kayla Fisk came off their respective benches to slap on some needed defense at critical times and Jaxi Long knocked it down in the clutch more than once.
But it was Frisbie who would lead the Lions on this night. The senior seemed to will her Lion career to extend with tireless defense that led to 5 steals and a game high 15 points, hitting the needed shots when her team had gone cold.
The season ends for the Packers but they depart with a share of the conference title and the pride that comes with a stellar season of play.
Coach Zerlaut: "I am extremely proud of what those girls did this season. They were a true team. They worked together, they laughed together, and tonight they had to cry together. As I told them in the locker room after the game, only four teams in the state end their season without tears. I would have loved to win tonight and keep our season going, but the reality is that no matter when our season ended, I would have been disappointed because I wouldn’t get to be in the gym together with them the next day.
"I feel fortunate that I got to work with such a great group of kids this season!”
Coach Thomasma "It was another dogfight between our two teams tonight. Both teams played extremely hard and it could have gone either way. I am proud of our whole team. It was a good win against a good opponent. We will enjoy it tonight but we have another good opponent in Grant coming up that we have to be ready for."
Newaygo faces Grant Wednesday at 7:30 or following the conclusion of the Comstock Park/Sparta game.
Comstock Park 73 Tri County 51
In the end it was just too much McKenna Bent.
The SVSU bound Panther senior poured in 38 points and despite a valiant effort on the part of the Vikings, no one could stop her.
Alicia Bowen provided the spark for the Vikes keeping them close in the opening period scoring 9 of her team high 18 as CP took a 19-14 lead. The Panthers extended the lead in the second with Bent nailing an even dozen while Mary Siple, Mackenzie Nagelhout, and Ashlet Bialek provided TC with enough offense to keep them in sight of CP.
After the break Bialek hit a pair to cut the lead to 5 but the Panther lead kept inching up behind Bent’s scoring and the teams entered the final frame with the Panthers holding a 12 point lead.
The 4th proved to be an offensive show for CP with Lily Walters, and camelin McKay joining Bent in hitting from distance and while Bowen Bilek, Nagelhout and Alison Myers did their best to keep pace on the scoreboard they could not match the CP firepower and Park moves on to the semis.
Bowen led the Vikes in scoring with 18 and Bialek finished with 10. Give credit to Nagelhout who was assigned to guard Bent and despite the numbers put up by the sharpshooter did an admirable job in trying to contain the Panther scoring machine.
Emily Heintzelman finished with 8 points for CP, Katelyn Heintzelman hit for 7 and Aliyah Durry added 6.
Comstock Park moves on to face Sparta Wednesday at 6pm in Fremont