2019-2020 BOYS BASKETBALL
Gunner Hill (12) Central Montcalm
Trenton Shaffer (12) Central Montcalm
Asher Vissman (12) Central Montcalm
Carter Chase (12) Grant
Diesel Rose (12) Grant
Seth Schuitema (10) Grant
Chris Kennedy (12) Fremont
DJ Lee (10) Big Rapids
Carlos Magana (12) Newaygo
Zac Saez (12) Reed City
Cam Friend (11) Tri County
Trey Chapin (11) Central Montcalm
Orion Evans (11) Grant
Braiden McDonald (11) Fremont
Trevor Woodard (12) Big Rapids
Wyatt Mortensen (11) Newaygo
Payton Hansen (11) Reed City
Nick Braunschneider (12) Tri County
Levi Rogers (11) Chippewa Hills
2019-2020 BOYS BASKETBALL
Axel Woolworth (12) Morley Stanwood
Aiden McLaughlin (12) Morley Stanwood
Carter Veldkamp (11) Morley Stanwood
Eli Carlson (12) Kent City
Max Hudson (12) Kent City
Nathan Slowik (12) Holton
Sam Venema (11) White Cloud
Hayden Rentschler (12) Lakeview
Logan Balkema (12) Hesperia
Jason Bialik (12) Morley Stanwood
Shawn Anderson (12) Kent City
Aidan Poling (11) Holton
Jake Foster (12) White Cloud
Noah Ritchey (12) Lakeview
Kaiden Robbins (12) Hesperia
The players selected as All Conference and Honorable Mention
Holly McKenna (12) Big Rapids
Megan Mackall (11) Big Rapids
Rylie Haist (9) Big Rapids
Calla Miller (11) Fremont
Paige Vandenberg (12) Fremont
Chloe Shriver (12) Fremont
Jaxi Long (10) Newaygo
Bailey Vissman (11) Central Montcalm
Ashley Bialek (11) Tri County
Kirstyn Throop (12) Grant
Taylor Harrison (12) Reed City
Taylor Neeb (12) Chippewa Hills
Ariana Costie (11) Big Rapids
Natalie Jamieson (12) Fremont
Jaylee Long (11) Newaygo
London Eldridge (11) Central Montcalm
Alicia Bowen (11) Tri County
Kassidy Doornbos (12) Grant
Paige Lofquist (10) Reed City
Sydni Nelson (12) Chippewa Hills
Kenzie Bowers (11) Kent City
Jenna Harrison (11) Kent City
Mikayla Loew (12) Kent City
Brooke Brauher (11) Morley Stanwood
Breanna Berry (12) Morley Stanwood
Alexis Strait (11) White Cloud
Emily Bayle (11) Hesperia
Madison Hart (10) Lakeview
Ally Seiber (11) Holton
Taryn Preston (10) Kent City
Kalee Ramsey (12) Morley Stanwood
Olivia Bowman (12) White Cloud
Rachel Romero (11) Hesperia
Natalie Parsons (9) Lakeview
Madison Bosset (11) Holton
McDonald knocks down 27; Defense shines in Packer win.
Photos by Mike Gesler
Fremont 65 Coopersville 52
The Packers came to play.
Facing a physical Bronco squad and with a chance to make it to the District finals Fremont came up big behind a strong defensive effort that led to an outpouring of transition scoring.
The Pack jumped out early taking an 11-2 lead before a Coopersville timeout and held an 18-6 advantage after one but the Broncos would not go away and hung around the 10 point margin occasionally making a few mini runs to cut into the lead. Fortunately the Packers answered each run and the defense was able to hold Coopersville at bay for the rest of the game to secure the win.
Coach Zerfas: ”They were pressing hard and double teaming but we were able to find the open man and score in transition often in the 4th. When we did not score in transition I thought we ran a very patient and efficient offense which made it hard for Coopersville to come back.
“I really liked our defense tonight. They came in with 3 good scorers capable of putting up 30 points and we were able to contain them. Our offense was as efficient as I’ve seen them all year.”
And now the Packers move on to face Comstock Park, the team that knocked the 19-1 Fremont team out of the tournament in the opening game last season coming back from a 7 point deficit in the last 2 minutes to win in overtime.
The game still stings some of the Packer players who were on that squad last year.
And now is their chance to avenge that loss.
Braiden McDonald led the Packers with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Tristan Campbell hit for 11 points and 9 rebounds, and Chris Kennedy dropped in 11 points. Joshua Zerfas dished 9 assists to go with his 4 points and Carter Moon had another all around game with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 points. Martin Curiel once again provided a big boost of the bench with 8 points.
District Finals: Fremont vs, Comstock Park @ Grant. Friday 7pm.
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
They simply refuse to lose.
After a grueling and heart pounding 31 minutes and 50+ seconds of defensive wizardry at its best, a back and forth game that left players and fans emotionally spent, the Lions found themselves down 2. They needed a bucket to send the game into overtime.
Jaxi Long who moments before kept her team in the game with a triple took the ball down court and launched a high arcing shot from several feet behind the three point line as time seemed to stop and the gym fell silent for a split second.
And she burned it.
The game winning blast from downtown produced a roar from the Newaygo crowd including a substantial and spirited student section.
The Lions took down a GR Christian team that arrived in Sparta with an impressive resume and a huge height advantage they tried to exploit all night.
But the Lions were having none of it.
Mathis, Goodin and Ruehmeier worked on the towering presence of Evie Doezema with help from their teammates and contained the Eagle efforts to take the ball inside. Frisbie popped in a couple of key threes during the game and provided relentless defense in the backcourt. There were heroes stepping up all night for the Lions.
The lead changed hands 9 times in the first half alone. The second half saw it seesaw another 8 times, but when the Eagles press forced a couple of late stops and they built a 4 point lead matching the biggest span of the night between the teams it looked grim for the Lions. Just
1:24 remained and they had gone cold the past 2 minutes as Christian outscored them 7-1 in that span.
But Jaylee Long was fouled on a three pointer and cooly went to the line to drain them 1-2-3.
Up by a point, Eagle Rory Pruis drew a foul and converted both to stretch the lead to 3 but Jaxi fired it in from the corner for a tie. Then it was Emma Witte’s turn at the stripe and she also sank both.
2 point lead and the clock ticking down with the Eagles vaunted defense tossing out their best, it might have been a curtain call for many teams.
But not this team.
And not Jaxi Long.
The young woman with ice in her veins knew she was going to take the shot as soon as the ball was in her hands.
And she wasn’t about to fail.
”I don't think as coaches we'll ever get an ending like that ever again.
“In the timeouts, we told them to stay focused. We always talk in the tournament about the momentum swings. Just stay locked in and confident.
“The girls stayed focused. Even at the end of the game when we got called for a foul with 8 seconds left and they hit free throws. Kudos to them.
“Jaxi had 19 points and 3 assists. Jaylee had 9 points and 4 rebounds. Emmerson had 8 points and 12 rebounds. Obviously they had a great game but all those other girls stepped up. Sophia had two big 3's that kept us hanging around. Kendall and Lily battled and more than held their own against Doezema and Fisk came in a wreaked havoc and played really hard as always. The bench kept everyone positive, stayed focused and provided great energy to everyone."
"Just a great win for these kids. It was close all game. The kids really believe and kept battling until the end obviously.
“We will enjoy the win tonight and try and come up with something to slow down a very talented and well-coached West Catholic team on Thursday. They are very good. We will have to play our best game of the year to beat them."
So now this incredible group of players who just knocked off the #3 team in the state will face their next opponent on Thursday.
#2 West Catholic.
As Coach Thomasma said, the Falcons are an extremely strong, talented and well coached team.
But hey, so are these Lions.
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Fremont 93 Grant 70
The gym in the Grant Middle School was a packed house in this much anticipated, opening round of district play, rubber match of the Grant Tigers and Fremont Packers. Last week, the Tigers swiped a share of the conference title for themselves and away from the Packers. The Packers, for their part, felt they didn’t put their best foot forward, and were looking to kill any hope the Tigers may have had at a district title to add to their season. With the energy and drama cranked all away up to ten, a showdown percolating, the opening tipoff couldn’t come soon enough.
The first half of play was everything this game billed itself out to be. “In the game last week, we didn’t necessarily have very good spacing or patience and we scored seventy-seven. We looked at that on film, and I thought if we space the floor better, ran our sets, that we talked before we might put up eighty-five or ninety if we were able to play with spacing. And it happened,” stated Fremont’s coach, Peter Zerfas.
Fremont came out hot, mainly due to three 3s put up by Joshua Zerfas, and went up fifteen points to Grant’s four. But Grant didn’t hit the panic button, and continued to play their game. With a boost from Gage Burrows, who shot five 3s, Grant pulled within two by the end of the half. And even though Fremont went into the locker room with a 45-43 lead, this game felt like it would go down to the final buzzer.
The second half however was solely Fremont’s alone. The Tigers went colder than a block of ice sitting on a frozen pond. “The second half felt like it got away when we had empty offensive trips in the third, and then it was kind of a runaway train. We just tried to do a little bit of desperation shoot and foul, and that didn’t work either,” stated Grant’s coach, Joel Schuitema. With 2:35 left in the game and Grant down by twenty-two, Schuitema finally threw in the towel, pulled his starters, and both coaches allowed their bench personnel to finish the game as the Tiger faithful sat in stunned silence and the Packer fans roared.
“Carter Moon played tremendous on Seth Schuitema. He’s such a good player, and Carter really brought it defensively,” shared Coach Zerfas. “Chris [Kennedy] did too on Carter Chase. I’m a little biased, but I thought my son [Joshua Zerfas] had a pretty good game just getting us off to a good start with those three 3s. And it was really all five of us because Tristin [Campbell] in the post every time they took Rose off of him just did really well. I don’t know how many Braiden [McDonald] had, but he had to have twenty or more. So it was a really good team effort I thought.”
“Hats off to Pete and the Fremont Packers,” shared Coach Schuitema. “Good luck to them in the district. Our kids are sad right now, and so am I.”
Braiden McDonald led tonight for the Packers with twenty-nine points. Tristan Campbell nearly matched McDonald with twenty-eight. Joshua Zerfas also put up double digits with fifteen. Adding to Fremont’s effort was Carter Moon (8), Jacob Visser (6), Martin Curiel (3), and Lane Converse with two.
Gage Burrows led for the Tigers tonight with twenty-one. Seth Schuitema and Carter Chase also had double digits with fourteen and ten respectively. Also helping in Grant’s efforts was Diesel Rose (9), Cole Lesley (8), Elliot Butchart and Eli Bradley each with three, and Jed Vanderweide with two.
Fremont will next take on Coopersville on Wednesday evening at the Grant Middle School gym for the 5:30 district game.
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.
Two Grant Tigers traveled to Ford Field for the MHSAA Individual State Finals on March 6th and 7th.
Senior Billy Ostyn started out strong winning his first match in the 125lbs weight class. Sophomore Brady Jacobs lost a close match to open at 135lbs. Billy won his quarterfinals match 15-8 to ensure a top 6 finish. Brady came back strong with a pin in the first consolation round and then winning 9-5 in the blood round to ensure his podium finish. Billy lost to his #1 ranked Dundee opponent in the Semi-finals in a match that was 2-1 going into the final minute.
Both wrestlers returned Saturday after achieving All State status to compete in the placement rounds. Billy won his match by pin to move to the 3rd place match where he lost to the #3 ranked wrestler to finish in 4th place. Brady lost 1-6 to move him to the 7 place match where he lost to finish in 8th place.
Billy Ostyn finishes his Grant wrestling career as the first 4 time state qualifier in school history and tied for second on the all-time career wins list with 165 victories.
D2 Monday Games
Fremont (15-5) vs, Grant (13-7) 5:30pm
We would have preferred to see these teams go at each other a little beyond the District opener though, of course, anything can happen at tourney time.
The thing is, these teams have produced two of the most exciting games in local boys hoops this season and after Monday only one will be left standing,
So if you’re interested in witnessing round three of this season series to see who pulls out the rubber match you better get yourself a ticket to the Monday opener.
In game one at Fremont the Packers edged the Tigers in a nail biter then last week on the Tiger home court Grant held off a couple of Fremont runs to take their share of the Gold title the Pack had coveted.
Schuitema can knock them down as can Burrows and Evans. Rose battles underneath.
But Chase is the straw that stirs the drink for the Tigers. He is in every argument about who might be the area’s best player and it is a convincing argument once you see him play.
The Packers have a slew of talent and the season that started with a lot of promise and a 10-0 start unraveled a bit with a 5-5 second half and only one notch against a team with a winning record.
Still, with players like Kennedy, Campbell, McDonald, Zerfas, Miller, Moon etc. they have a chance to make a tournament run and grab some district hardware to help salve the loss of a title share.
But they have to get by the Tigers who have won 10 of 11 games since the loss on the Packer floor.
And remember, they’re playing at home.
Winner plays Coopersville (10-10) Wednesday 5:30pm.
Sparta (10-10) vs, Comstock Park (5-15) 7pm.
These teams split their games in the OK Blue this season each winning on their home court.
The Spartans beat Holton and Grant early on but both of those teams had their greatest success in the second half.
Park has lost 6 of their last 7 and have only won twice away from the Panther home court,
Sparta started the season 5-0 then dropped 7 in a row, followed that with winning 4 of 5 and dropped 2 of their last 3.
Winner faces Newaygo (6-14) Wednesday at 7pm.
D3 Monday Games
Ravenna (20-0) vs.North Muskegon (14-5) 5:30pm
The Bulldogs are undefeated and the undisputed champs of the WM Conference.
The Norseman have played them tough twice.
2 good teams, one playing at home.
Winner takes on Kent City (12-8) Wednesday 5:30pm.
WMC (15-5) vs, Holton (13-7) 7pm
Two more good teams. The Warriors shared the Lakes 8 title with Ludington and the Red Devils ended the season winning 5 of their last 6 with the only loss a buzzer beater at Grant, the CSAA Gold co-champs.
Winner to play White Cloud (7-13) Wednesday 7pm.
-Ken DeLaat, N3 Sports
Newaygo 49 Sparta 30
For the first time since 2004 the Lions came home with some hardware winning the District title and moving on to Regional play next week.
And the defense truly never rested as Coach Nate Thomasma’s team put on a defensive clinic in the second half stuffing the Sparta offense and capturing the treasured victory.
A physical game from the start saw the bodies banging in the paint and some backcourt bruising.
Spartan Kensey Armock drove in for a pair of layups halfway though the first quarter to stake Sparta to an early 10-5 lead but Jaxi Long hit for 2, Jaylee Long followed with a score then after a dramatic Lily Ruehmeier block the ball found its way into Jaxi’s hands and she drained a triple that gave the Lions their first lead. Amrock responded with a bucket and it was 12 all after one.
When the second started Jaxi hit from distance again was answered by a Paige Wilson bucket before Jaxi hit another 3 from way downtown. After a stop Sophia Frisbie rifled a pass to Reuhmeier for 2 to stretch the lead to 6 before Amrock came through again converting a steal to 32 points and the half ended with the Lions on top 20-16.
Then came the third quarter.
The Lions came out on defensive fire holding the Spartans to a single free throw while Jaxi and Frisbie nailed triples and Emmerson Goodin rebounded her own shot and followed with a basket. Jaylee fired in a jumper and Mathis drained one at the buzzer and Newaygo took a 32-17 lead heading into the 4th.
The final frame was much the same as the Spartans were unable to penetrate the Lion defense and their outside shots constantly challenged refused to fall.
Meanwhile Newaygo continued to score and stretched the lead to 20 halfway through the quarter.
As time expired the excitement built until the final buzzer when pandemonium broke loose on the Lion bench and their fans, a vocal group all night, stormed the floor and the celebration began.
Coach Thomasma: “I could not be happier for these 13 girls tonight. They have dealt with ups and downs this season but continued to battle. Sparta is a tough physical opponent but the girls didn't back down. We have great fans that urged us on and it was great to see.
“We’ve been stressing the defense with the girls all year and it proved to be the key tonight. We had a couple of tough losses but this week the way they’ve played speaks to their character. I don’t know if you could have found many fans who thought we were going to pull it out after the third quarter against Fremont Wednesday but give a lot of credit to those girls. They didn’t give up.
”We'll enjoy it tonight and hope to keep it going next week in Regionals.”
Jaylee finished with 20 points 6 rebounds and 6 assists, Jaxi hit for11 points and Goodin was outstanding in the paint pulling down 11 boards and scoring 9.
The Long sisters along with their teammates had smiles as big as their performances when we caught up with them.
How do we feel?
Jaylee: “Way better than last year”
Jaxi: This was so much fun.”
What was the turning point?
Jaylee: “We came out hard in the third. We wanted to shut them down and the defense really did their job.
The key to the win?
Jaxi: “The defense definitely”
Jaylee: Yeah,the defense opened up the opportunities on offense and got our scoring going.
You had a rough go for awhile with those close losses to BR and Fremont. How did you regroup?
Jaxi: “We grew a lot as a team this year.”
Jaylee:”Yeah, the losses gave us the focus we needed and we really came together.
So next is the Regionals right? Any thoughts about playing GR Christian?
Jaylee: “We don’t know who’s next.”
Jaxi: ”We just take it one game at a time.”
And the next one is Tuesday.
Photos by Sue Harrison
Kent City 53 Morley Stanwood 47
The Eagles ran off the first 8 points of the game and held off the Mohawks who were relentless in their pursuit but came up short in the third matchup between the two Silver powerhouses.MS made a few runs cutting the lead to 4 behind some timely triples by Brooke Brauher and Braelyn Berry and early in the 4th cut the lead to 3 but Jenna Harrison canned one from distance and Kenzie Bowers followed with a basket after a stop to push the lead to 8.
The Eagles struggled at the line most of the night but Harrison went 4-4 down the stretch and the Eagles captured the hard fought District crown.
Kenzie Bowers finished with 19 points while Harrison dropped in 13 and Lexie Bowers added a dozen.
Brauher finished with 25 to lead all scorers and Brenna Berry fired in 13.
Kent City moves on to Morley Stanwood where they will face the PW Pirates who knocked them out in the first round of Regional play last season on their way to a state title.
WMC 59 Saugatuck 40
The Warriors held off a tenacious Saugatuck squad who dismantled an early WMC lead to tie the game late in the third but the 4th quarter saw WMC overcome foul trouble and run away from their opponents to notch the win and move on to Regional play at Morley Stanwood to take on Ithaca
Kyla Wiersema led the Warriors with 17 points and Taylor Folkema hit for 16.
Zoe Myers finished with 11 points for Saugatuck.