Bracket busted? Need a new Tourney to follow? High School Madness begins this week.
A.k.a. ‘The Dance’ where everyone is invited to get out on the floor but mind you, make one misstep and you’re sitting the rest of the party out.
It’s the time of year when teams that may have struggled through the season suddenly get hot and out of the blue Cinderella is headed for the Regionals having taken down the District favorite.
Last year we all embraced a Lion Girls team that willed itself into a Regional Final after facing a litany of all staters and state ranked teams along the way.
On theBoys side there was avid anticipation for an impending rematch between the Packers and the Comstock Park team that knocked them out early the previous year. The winner would be playing their next game in the West Catholic Regional.
Then it all came to a sudden end, of course.
.And while unarguably unfortunate one must admit it dramatically increased the number of teams ending their season with a win. As in around 80 in the two D2 divisions as opposed to 2.
But we digress.
Here’s a peek at the upcoming week on the hardcourt for our local Girls teams.
Tune in tomorrow and we’ll share our thoughts on the battles awaiting the Boys squads.
Considering that the 15-1 Lions are seeded second it can be assumed this is one tough district.
Comstock Park lost an all stater to graduation and merely went 10-0 this season. Granted, half of those were by 4 points or less and only 2 teams on their schedule finished with winning records but, hey, 10 in a row is still 10 in a row and Panther Emily Heitzelman is giving opponents fits.
Newaygo has lost once. A lengthy road trip down to Portland the day after a win over Reed City resulted in a loss to the Raiders one of 2 games the Lions failed to reach at least 48 points. They have a lot of weapons on offense led by Jaylee Long and her ability to penetrate, Jaxi Long and Brummel laser shots from distance and Goodin whose inside game seems to have elevated into another level of late.
But it’s the defense that puts a choke hold on opponents. Only once this season did a team score more than 40 on the Lions and watch them for one quarter and you’ll see why. This is a team that swarms over their competition with Fisk seemingly all over the court when the Lions slap on a press.
There are no weak links on this team and they carry out the business of winning with a grinding determination. They’re one of those rare teams that never seem to lose but on occasion they run out of time.
We hope it’s a good run before they run out of time.
Coach Thomasma:"The cliche of 'one game at a time' is one that we use and believe. Anything can happen and we're aware of that. Our District is always tough. There are a lot of good coaches and teams. We're just focused on controlling what we can control (ourselves) and preparing to play either Grant or Tri-County on Wednesday."
Grant vs Tri County 5:30pm
The teams played twice and twice the Vikes walked away with a 15 point win though the score stayed tight for most of both games.
TC has only lost once to a team not named Newaygo or Central Montcalm and Bialek, Bowen and Sipple can put a hurt on teams with their ability to find the hoop.
This is a young Tiger team but they have a season under their belts and Ashbaugh, Rider, and Swanson are among the Grant players who can get a hot hand. N3’s Mike Gesler made this observation after a loss to CM.
“The game in itself was a sign that this young Tiger team continues to improve. They roared back to tie the game in the third before the Hornets went on a twelve point run giving them a ten point margin to start the fourth. Yet Grant did not let that be the game, and continued to battle hard letting Central Montcalm know if they wanted this win, they would need to earn every point.”
As TC will have to do on Monday night.
Coach Delamater: “It's a whole new season for everyone. We are hoping to put together some consistency and get a win on Monday. Tri-County is a good team, but we competed with them in both games and didn't play as well as we are capable of. If we do a good job of handling their pressure and limit our turnovers, we will be in good shape.”
Fremont vs. Sparta 7pm
Coach Zerlaut has done a really good job with this team. With nearly an entire new cast on the floor the Packers opened with back to back against the conference best and were soundly defeated. They lost the next four as well but they were in each of those games and regrouped with a modest yet impressive 3 game win streak. They’ve improved defensively, have Miller, Zerlaut the Bennet’s and others who can score, but they often go through collective dry spells. Monday’s matchup would be a big win for this Packer team. They played the Spartans tough and definitely possess the kind of shooters who can get hot enough to toss a close game. The key will be keeping it close.
Coach Zerlaut: “Sparta plays a very aggressive style of basketball. They play full court defense the whole game, trap the ball handler, and are very physical. We turned the ball over 28 times when we played them this past Monday and were still in the game the whole way because we shot the ball pretty well, leading for most of the first half. We need to handle their pressure better this week. They are a good team. We have played well at times this season, but not consistently enough. Our success Monday will likely come down to whether or not we can limit our turnovers, and of course we need to put the ball in the basket when we get open looks.”
White Cloud District
Make no mistake, the team to beat in this district is clearly Kent City
The two top seeds are the Eagles and the Mohawks. In their two meetings KC beat Morley by 10 then thumped them by 30 this past week.
The Eagles smother teams and possess prolific scores led by Bowers and Harrison.
Morley will present a challenge to the survivor of Ravenna/Lakeview. They’re a good team and it’s hard to beat any good team 3 times in a season.
Unless you’re a really, really good team.
Lakeview vs. Ravenna 5:30pm
The Bulldogs have won just once in their last 8 games.
Outside of a 9 point loss to Holton the closest the Wildcats have come in their other 9 losses has been 39 points.
Credit to the Lakeview team for their resilience but to move past Ravenna they also need points and while the Dawgs don’t score a lot they’re likely to have a lot more opportunities than the ‘Cats on Monday.
Holton vs. White Cloud 7pm
First time they met the Cloud won by a couple dozen. Last time the margin was narrowed to 10. The Indians have been on a W-L-W-L-W run of late.
The Red Devils have improved. A lot. And Bossett, Robins and Fowler provide some firepower.
Whether it’s been enough to overcome the game provided by Strait, Thompson, Watson…
And if Scarlavai is back in action?
Tough hill to climb.
Winner gets Kent City.
Tougher hill to climb.
The top seeds are the Panthers and the Pirates. Hesperia has put together a solid season behind the triple threat of Bayle, Tinkham and Romero.
Hart has Morgan Marvin in the middle and the three teams that have beaten the Pirates have a cumulative record of 45-1.
Coach Grodus: “This is our first year in this particular region. Hart is the number 1 seed. They have had an outstanding season. We are the number two seed. We will have to play well to advance, but our team is ready and energized for the challenge.”
Mason County Central vs. Leroy Pine River 5;30pm
Evart vs. Shelby 7pm
MCC/Pine River winner vs. Hesperia 5:30pm
Evart/Shelby winner vs. Hart 7pm