Newaygo Boys Win to Even Out Rivalry For the Season
Photos and Story by Alexis Mercer
When the Lions traveled down M-37 two weeks ago and faced off against Grant, they found themselves in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of the second half. Grant won 60-51 despite being down a player (Lesley) due to injury.
But as any good rivalry goes, the winner is always the team that shows up the night of the battle regardless of history. And Friday night that team was the Lions.
Junior Gabriel Schillman of Newaygo was not about to leave the game up to chance. He came out blazing and scored 5 of the Lions' first 6 points. As he did all night, however, Grant’s Gage Burrows kept the Tigers in the hunt by draining a 3 point shot right after.
Freshman Josiah Long took his own turn behind the 3 point line to give the Lions a 7 point lead, but Grant came back within 5 to end the first quarter. Already the game was singing a very different tune than two weeks ago.
To start the 2nd quarter, senior Cole Lesley got fouled and made 1 of 2 at the line to get the Tigers headed in the right direction. Then came Long with another 3. But Lesley pushed his way inside for another solid 2 points.
It was back and forth from then until the end of the half with Schillman and Long both contributing buckets. Jed VenderWeide made a timely 3 to stay within 5, but Ashton Stephens is taking advantage of his chance to lead his senior year and nailed a buzzer beater 3 pointer to head into the locker room with an 8 point lead and a definite advantage in momentum.
The Lions didn’t look back once in the second half. Despite the Tigers not giving in and continuing to try to find ways to close the gap, Newaygo persisted.
Newaygo beat the Tigers this time around 62-46. So the rivalry goes on.
Newaygo’s leading scorers were senior Ashton Stephens with 17, senior Wyatt Mortensen with 14, junior Gabriel Schillman with 13, and freshman Josiah Long with 10.
Cole Lesley led the Tigers with 9.
From Coach Long: “Newaygo led the entire game getting solid play from several players. The team played hard tonight. Everyone played their role well and the team executed what we wanted to do. Hudson Harkness had 10 rebounds to go with a whole team effort on the defensive side.”