Long lobs buzzer beating bouncer for the win
Photos by Alexis Mercer
Story by Ken DeLaat
Newaygo 44 Tri County 42
It was undoubtedly the most exciting game this reporter has seen all season.
A hard fought, physical, blue collar battle featuring 10 lead changes, defensive wizardry and a shut the front door final two minutes that electrified the Lions Den.
And it ended in dramatic style, as we all knew it would, with Jaxi Long lifting up a prayer as she stumbled into the paint. A prayer that somehow found the rim, bounced three times and dropped in at the buzzer to end an epic battle between two teams who refused to lose. A heavyweight fight with each participant taking the best their opponent had to give and hanging in to the finish to see who would survive.
It took just 8 seconds before the first whistle and Emma Sickelsteel dropped in a pair to start the scoring. Kendall Mathis drew a foul on the other end and split a pair then Newaygo scored twice more with Jaylee Long hitting a jumper and Mathis banking one off the glass before TC went to the line again. Mary Siple a Viking freshman with some serious game dropped in both of her shots followed by an Alicia Bowen bucket and TC was back in the lead. Grace Miller was sent to the stripe and split for the Vikes then Jaxi Long found a streaking Sophia Frisbie with a lightning pass and Frisbie converted as time expired and the teams ended the first tied at 7.
The second started with the teams trading scores and swapping the lead. The Lions went onna mini run to go up by 6 but the Vikes answered back with 6 of their own to close the half with the teams knotted at 17.
The third quarter saw as much scoring as the first half with Frisbie dishing to Jaylee Long and Lillian Ruehmeier for Lion scores while Sickelsteel poured in a half dozen for the Vikings and when the dust settled TC held a 33-32 lead.
The 4th saw 3 ½ minutes expire before the score changed and it changed in a big way as Frisbie laced a shot from three point range to stake a 2 point lead. A minute later Jaxi Long found Goodin then off a stop popped one in on her own and the hosts had moved ahead by 5 the largest lead either team had held up to that point. Less than 2 minutes remained and with TC down by 5 points quarterback Bowen found Siple who calmly canned one from the arc and it was 40-38 Lions. Jaxi Long scored off a Frisbie pass and Bowen immediately answered to make it 42-40 then after a stop Bowen again got the ball to Siple who hit the game tieing bucket and was fouled. It was the 18th time the Vikes stood at the stripe and they had converted 14 of the 17 prior attempts. This one didn’t fall but the Vikings got the rebound and with the score tied at 42 held for the last shot. With 8 seconds left the swarming Newaygo defense led to a traveling violation giving the ball to the Lions.
Then came the improbable Jaxi Long shot that sealed the deal.
The loss ended a 7 game winning streak for the Vikings.
Newaygo Coach Thomasma: "It was a great basketball game. Both teams played extremely hard and with sportsmanship. Tri-County is a good basketball team and we were very fortunate to come out on top. I'm happy the girls kept their composure at the end.”
Jaylee Long finished with 14 points, 6 boards and 4 assists while Frisbie dished out 6 dimes pilfered 3 steals and scored 5 points. Jaxi Long fired in 10 points , Goodin dropped in 6 and Mathis scored 5.
Sickelsteel led the Vikes with 14 points and Miller knocked down 8 with Siple sinking 7 and Taylor Longstreet finishing with 6.
With Central Montcalm clinching the top spot in the Gold the battle for second involves four teams (TC, Fremont, Grant, Newaygo) within a 1 ½ games of each other in the standings.