Lady Lions Earn 12th Conference Win
By Alexis Mercer
Perhaps it is just a thing loving parents say to their children on a winning team when they play against a team that is significantly less successful, but the phrase “it is hard to play a team like that” seems to have truth to it.
Unless, of course, you’re a Lady Lion playing for this season’s basketball team. Rather than allowing a struggling Chippewa Hills team to throw them off their game, or let the lack of excitement heading into a game against a team whose record only has one win, the Newaygo Lions pounced with all their might and played exactly the kind of fantastic basketball the fans have come to expect out of them every time they set foot on the floor.
Chippewa Hills made the first basket and continued to impress in the first minutes of the game in Lion Country. But when the score hit 5-4, the Warriors would officially see the last lead of the night.
Every Lion contributed to this solid win, which also happened to be Senior Night for Anna Brummel, Jaylee Long, and Lillian Ruehmeier. The senior leaders held their heads high and followed their shots to walk out of the gym with a 65-19.
Emmerson Goodin led the Lions with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Jaylee Long had 18 points and 4 assists. Jaxi Long had 10 points and 3 rebounds.
Newaygo jumped out to a 25-5 lead after the first quarter and was able to extend their cushion throughout the game. Newaygo clinched at least a share of the CSAA Gold conference with the win with two games to go.
Coach Nate Thomasma said "Great win tonight on Senior Night. We had a great first quarter. This team has worked extremely hard over the past few years and to have earned at least a share of the conference crown. We're hoping to continue the momentum next week."
Newaygo improves to 13-1 (12-0 in conference)
Chippewa Hills drops to 1-13 (1-11 in conference)
Boys Finish Strong for the W
Attendance has been allowed to reach a higher percentage of total capacity of gym size, but based on the eerie quiet after the first quarter when the home Lions only had scored 6 points, no one would have known there were any fans at all.
The Lions were not deterred. Despite being down 6-17 at the end of the 1st quarter, they came out with a little more bounce in their step to start the 2nd. Momentum is a funny thing. The crowd agreed. The silence very quickly turned into hopeful cheers and within a few minutes a roaring excitement. The Lions weren’t giving their rough start any attention; they were here to win. By the time the clock hit 5:00 the Lions found themselves up 21-20 and back in the game.
Chip Hills’s bench gave it their all in keeping their players fired up; every single one of them would explode with excitement for each made basket. Their team spirit was infectious. But none of that mattered to senior Lion Ashton Stephens. Tied at 25 with 2:47 left in the half, he stepped back behind the 3 point line, drained a 3 and got right to defending.
Newaygo was up 31-27 at the half.
Once the Lions found their groove, they weren’t letting it go. The momentum was clearly in their favor. Up by 13 at the end of the 3rd, it looked like the Warriors would fade out exactly the opposite as they started the game.
Chip Hills did manage to give one final push in the 4th and the Lions were only up by 5 when Josiah Long drained a 3. Warrior Gage Saathof answered with his own 3, but Gabe Schillman said enough and dropped a 3rd and final 3 in the series. The Lions never looked back.
Newaygo defeated Chippewa Hills 69-57.
Lions were led by Wyatt Mortensen with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Ashton Stephens added 15 points, Gabriel Schillman with 10, and Bryce Decker with 12.
Coach Jason Long “The boys kept their composure after the first quarter and kept playing hard and trusted the process and each other. I thought the boys showed perseverance tonight and battled. Tonight we celebrated senior night so I was glad to see we were able pull out the win."