Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 64 Newaygo 44
On paper there is no reason why this year’s Grant Tiger’s team should lose to their rival the Newaygo Lions. But, on paper, there is no reason Grant should be a 3 – 6 team coming into tonight’s game. Yet, this is where Grant is, and this is a rivalry, and in rivalry games anything can happen. Newaygo, for their part, has shown that they can be a competitive force to be reckoned. Just ask Fremont.
“The Grant Newaygo game is a fun game to be a part of; a lot of history of course, rivalry game. We knew that they were going to be athletic, and physical, and fast,” shared Grant’s coach, Joe Schuitema.
So tonight had all the anticipation of an upset in the brewing.
On the night that Senior Carter Chase would celebrate his 1000 career points with the unveiling of a banner and presentation of a game ball, who more apropos to start Grant’s scoring efforts than Chase himself. Chase put two on the board followed by Elliot Butchart with two more. The Lions answered back with Noah Painter putting in two followed by a three from Ashton Stephens. This would be the only moment in the game that the Lions would have the lead as Grant’s Brett Long went on a one man scoring effort with the next seven points. Those seven points would also be the difference at the end of the first quarter with Grant leading Newaygo seventeen to ten.
The second quarter started much like the first. The Tigers added four more to their score with a pair of buckets from Diesel Rose and Seth Schuitema, only to be followed by a pair of buckets from the Lion’s Carlos Magana and Francisco Rios. This time, however, it would be Schuitema who would go on the one man scoring run with seven points, and then Chase would add four of his own before Newaygo finally stopped the hemorrhaging after a holding foul sent Wyatt Mortensen to the line. By the time the first half came to a close, Newaygo was down to Grant by twenty points.
If there is anything positive that Newaygo can take away from tonight’s game it would be their second half play. While they did not gain any ground on the Tigers, they didn’t give up any either. The third quarter would be the lowest scoring quarter with a combined twenty-three points. The two teams swapped baskets, and had it not been for Grant’s height and size down by the paint, Newaygo may have been able to make ground up. In fact, Grant seemed to dry up on first shot attempts during the second half. Most of their points were coming on second or even third attempts.
“Their bigs stayed down at the block, and out rebounded us. I bet we gave up twenty-five thirty offensive rebounds, and you just can’t beat a solid Grant team giving them that many second chances,” stated Lion’s coach, Joe Barrette.
In the end, those twenty first half points the Tigers went into the locker room with would prove to be the deciding factor as the second half was a twenty-seven to twenty-seven draw.
“We felt like we had an advantage inside with our length and height, and so we tried to expose that, tried to do that. We persisted at that, I think, the whole game. I felt that our guards handled the pressure pretty well so that helped us out too. I’m happy with a victory,” stated Coach Schuitema.
“Just out toughed tonight, and we got to make sure we fix that,” added Coach Barrette.
Leading in the Tiger’s win tonight was Seth Schuitema with twenty-two points. Brett Long shot thirteen points, Carter Chase had eleven, and Elliot Butchart put up ten. Diego Krepps, Orion Evans, Cole Lesley, and Diesel Rose each had two respectively. Grant will now head north to Big Rapids to face the Cardinals on Friday night.
Helping in the Lion’s efforts was Francisco Rios with twenty points, followed by Carlos Magana with nine and Ashton Stephens with six. Wyatt Mortensen added three points, and Noah Painter, Pascal Hermann, David Gonzalez-Tirado each with two. Newaygo will travel up to Reed City to take on the Coyotes this Friday.