By Ken DeLaat
Friday night marks the halfway point in the conference season for area basketball teams and races in each of the CSAA leagues have heated up as expected.
In Girls Gold Central Montcalm isn’t just undefeated., no one has even come close but for one team.
The Tigers gave them a battle at home but the Hornets are unlikely to stumble with a deep and talented team that hasn’t lost a regular season game in two years. A game and a half separate the next four teams with the Packers in front followed by the Tigers, TC and Newaygo. In the Silver Kent City continues to hold the top spot with the Cloud a game back and Hesperia and Holton holding the bottom two spots.
For the Boys the route to the top spot in the Gold was going through Reed City before they were knocked off by Big Rapids and fell into a tie with the Packers. Newaygo is a game back with 2 losses to the co-leaders and Grant is just a game and a half back but staring up at four teams in front of them. The Mohawks of Morley are good. Real good. They are not only undefeated in the Silver, they have a 3-0 record against cross conference teams in the Gold as well. Kent City is a game behind and stayed with the ‘Hawks on the road and Holton is also just one back however they were manhandled by MS in their December contest at the Delta Plex that ended 74-32
Reed City 4-1 7-2 at Newaygo 4-2 7-2
This is a big one and will define the race going forward.The ‘Yotes were rolling through their Gold schedule until last Friday when the Cardinal team showed up and took them down in RC’s home gym, no easy feat at any time. Of course Jackob Martinson dropping 35 on the Coyotes helped the Cardinal cause considerably. The Lions need to contain Zac Saez and Cody Kailing and Connor Swinehart will be challenged inside so a few key three pointers will help free him up
Chip Hills 1-4 3-5 at Fremont 4-1 8-1
The Packers are at home where they haven’t lost.They are healthy, deep, and tall. The Warriors are coming off of three straight losses to start the new year but they have hung around against the top tier teams in the league so they can’t be taken lightly.
They won’t. The Packers might be waiting on the rematch at home against the Coyotes next Friday but there are two games to play before that one and this team has been taking care of business at home this year.
Big Rapids 2-3, 4-5 at Grant 3-3, 5-5
The Tigers have played well but are hurt by a lack of depth with just 8 players on the team. This game features a pair of the best players in the league. If Martinson gets hot early for the Cards it could be a long night for Grant defenders but the Tigers have their own scoring machine in Carter Chase. Watching Chase and Martinson on the court is alone worth the price of admission because both are consummate ball handlers with sweet shots.
Lakeview 1-3, 3-6 at White Cloud 1-3, 1-9
Neither team scores a lot so whoever finds a hot hand and makes a run will likely decide the outcome. Each team has a conference win and both are against the much depleted Hesperia squad
Hesperia 0-4, 0-11 at Morley Stanwood 4-0, 9-0
Doug Bolles and his team have weathered a lot of adversity this season going up against teams who have had the luxury of more than one substitute player on their bench. Teams that didn’t have to ask most of your players to go the full 32 every night.
But these guys show up and they show up ready to compete.
As we said in the intro, the Mohawks are a really really good team without a loss. At home and playing a team who has yet to win.
Holton 3-1, 4-5 at Kent City 3-1, 6-5
Are the Red Devils for real? Should find out tonight. The Eagles are a strong team that plays well at home. Both teams have lost to MS but Kent City was decidedly closer. The Devils might struggle to keep up with the scoring power of the Eagles should they make a couple early runs because Holton is unlikely to win a shootout, but if they can keep the score down they might find some of that leftover magic from the football season.
Central Montcalm 3-2, 4-7 at Tri County 0-5, 1-9
The Hornets are in the thick of the Gold race after shaking off a 4 game skid with a pair of conference wins over the Cards and Warriors. The Vikes are getting better but seem to have scoring lapses that take them out of games.
Reed City 1-4, 4-6 Newaygo 3-3, 5-3
The Lions are an enigmatic team who can look unstoppable when they limit turnovers that seem to come in bunches at times.Jaylee Long makes the engine fire. Her intensity is shared by her teammates who leave absolutely nothing on the court at game’s end. Lily Reuehmeier was not in the lineup during the lss to Grant on Tuesday and she was missed as was the inside presence of Emmerson Goodin who saw most of the game from the bench due to foul trouble. When all the parts are in place this is a formidable team and the Coyotes will have a hard time if the Lion offense is clicking.
Big Rapids 1-4, 3-5 at Grant 4-2, 4-5
The Tigers were impressive in their win over Newaygo Tuesday. Kirstyn Throop spent so much time at the free throw line she started getting mail there and Arends, Male, and Whan seemed to be everywhere on defense. The Cardinals don’t have any players who will light up the scoring sheet.
The Tigers do.
Chip Hills 0-5, 1-6 at Fremont 4-1, 6-3
Two Overtime wins in a row for the Pack a scrappy group of players with talent. Paige Vandenberg, Calla Miller and Natalie Jamieson have settled nicely into their roles and Chloe Shriver has ice in her veins when it comes to crunch time. Lots of good players, fun team to watch. The Warriors have lost a couple of close ones in conference play but they are going to have trouble scoring against this Packer defense.
Central Montcalm 5-0, 8-0 at Tri County 3-2, 4-3
The Hornets went undefeated last year then got bounced in the districts by a Big Rapids team they had beaten twice earlier. They are on a mission and capturing the Gold again is just a part of that mission. The Vikings have some talent, but have dropped 3 of their last 4 and the swarming defense of the Bees enables lengthy and productive offensive runs.
Lakeview 2-2, 4-4 at White Cloud 3-1, 6-2
The Cloud is rolling. They’ve won 5 out of 6 since the loss to Kent City 6 weeks ago and face a Wildcat team that is unlikely to keep up with the scoring ability of this group led by sharpshooter Hannah Brown. Next Friday the Eagles land in WC for a rematch on the Indian home court, but while that game might be looming in the minds of the players they will have no trouble being focused on the game at hand.
Hesperia 1-3, 5-4 at Morley Stanwood 2-2, 4-4
We haven’t heard much about the Panthers but they’ve won a few games along the way and the Mohawks have played decent ball with losses to KC and WC in conference play.
Holton 0-4, 0-8 at Kent City 4-0, 7-2
The Eagles have a whole lot of firepower and can smother a team when they press. The Devils haven’t won a game and that streak is unlikely to end Friday