Newaygo (16-7) vs. GR Christian (20-3) 5:30pm
The smart money on the Sparta Regional says the final will be a classic matchup between the dominating Eagles and the juggernaut known as the West Catholic Falcons.
After all, competing in the vaunted OK Gold GRC brought back nearly everyone from an 11-11 season to defeat all but 2 teams. There was the puzzling loss to Middleville to open the New Year after a 2 ½ week layoff and 2 defeats at the hands of OK Gold champ East GR. Other than that they have employed a tough defense to amass 20 wins including blowing their way through the Districts.
But now they face the lone survivor of another Gold division...this one from the CSAA.
Newaygo has had an interesting season to say the least. With just one senior starter they nonetheless have a lot of varsity experience on the floor. The Lions lost a couple of close ones and went 6-5 against teams with a winning record. They recovered from one of their few poor showings against Tri County to put together 5 straight wins including a magical district tournament run.
The Lions are a team that puts it all on the court and when they are hitting their outside attempts they are a formidable opponent and tough to beat.
The passion of Jaylee Long, the intensity of sister Jaxi, Sophia Frisbie’s quiet leadership, the focus of Emmerson Goodin, the clutch play of Lily Ruehmeier, the intuitive positioning of Kendall Mathis and the sheer energy provided by varsity newcomer Kayla Fisk make them an entertaining watch to be sure.
They will need to find a way to get open shots against the smothering defense of the Eagles and then they’ll have to hit those shots and do it early because GRC has a way of running away with a lead once they get in a groove. The Eagles find a way to get to the free throw line frequently and they don’t miss much once they get there.
It’s an uphill climb to be sure but one thing this season has shown is to never count the Lions out. Their sheer will to win is impressive and they seem to be one of those teams who feel like they run out of time rather than lose.
The Lions won’t have the height of the Eagles, nor likely the depth of the senior laden team.
But they have heart.
Miles and miles and miles of heart.
Spring Lake (8-13) vs. West Catholic (22-1) 7pm
I don’t know what it would take for the Lakers to top the Falcons but I know it is not likely to happen. WC is really really good.
Morley Stanwood Regional
Kent City (22-1) vs. Pewamo Westphalia (21-2) 5:30pm
We all know teams play games one at a time. That’s the mantra echoed by players and coaches.
But this one has been on the Eagle radar since a heartbreaking 2 point loss to the Pirates last year. The same Pirates who hoisted a state championship banner in their gym later when the tournament dust had settled.
The two teams ranked 1-3 will go at it again in perhaps the toughest Regional in D3.
Lexie and Kenxie Bowers, Jenna Harrison and co. want this one bad.
But the Pirates want to repeat.
Only 2 teams have scored more than 31 points on PW.
Kent City has scored more than 60 13 times this season.
Irresistible force meets immovable object.
WMC (17-6) vs. Ithaca (21-2) 7pm
Since starting 2-4 the Warriors have gone 15-2 since. They play with spirit and have a number of players who can score.
Ithaca has lost to just one team, league champion Hemlock, the only team to score 40 points on the Yellow Jackets.
Again, a good offense meets a good defense.