Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Sparta 74 Grant 67
The Grant Tigers came into tonight’s match-up against the Spartans of Sparta with one goal; to put together thirty-two minutes of solid play and their first win for the season. The Spartans though brought their formidable weapons in their guards consisting of Chase Wilson, Conner West, and Sam Kerska who combined ended up putting sixty of Sparta’s seventy-four total points on the board.
To say this game could have easily gone to the Tigers is an understatement. Both teams battled hard and kept the game within easy reach. During the first quarter with Grant up by five, Coach Schuitema pulled his starters and gave time to his seconds; a move he stated he told his players he was going to do. This allowed Sparta to go on an eight point run and a three point lead to end the first quarter.
With Grant’s starters back in for the second quarter, they wasted no time in bringing the game back to the battle that was witnessed in the beginning of the first. While the Tigers managed to tie the game at nineteen within the first few minutes, the guards of Sparta seemed to be able to keep the edge through the quarter. By the time the half buzzer sounded, the Spartans headed into the locker room with a slim one point lead.
The third quarter would prove to be no different. Neither team was about to back down, but this time it would be Grant’s guard Carter Chase that would keep the edge for Grant. With help from Seth Schuitema, the duo gave Grant a five point advantage late in the third before the Spartans narrowed the margin to draw within two points of Grant’s lead before closing the quarter.
As what was becoming typical of this game, the Spartan guards, mainly Sam Kerska, somehow found the chinks in Grant’s armor and exploited those openings with timely threes. Thus began the fourth quarter. With Grant’s Diesel Rose fouling out early, the Spartans could smell blood. Schuitema and Chase did their best to keep the game within striking distance. With a minute remaining the Tigers were only down by five. To anyone who knows basketball, a minute is a very long time. The Tigers tried to slow the Spartan guards and clock with intentional fouls, but neither was about to be stopped. At the final buzzer, it was the Spartans who would preserver the battle.
“I feel like we competed well. I feel like we created a lot of good shot opportunities for ourselves against a pretty physical and athletic defense. I feel like we tried to limit their guard play with some guys working hard, but their guards are good,” stated Joel Schuitema, Grant’s coach. “As you saw down the stretch, they made really good plays, really good decisions, and it turned out for their side. I feel like we are doing a lot of good things, but we need to do them for thirty-two minutes, and I don’t think we’ve seen that yet in three games.”
Leading in tonight’s efforts for Grant was Carter Chase and Seth Schuitema each with twenty-one points. Orion Evans put up fourteen points, and Elliot Butchart had the remaining eleven. The Tigers will next face Reed City in a conference match-up on Friday in Grant. Game time is 7:30 pm.