Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Newaygo 41 Grant 27
If you are a fan of defensive basketball, last night’s game in Grant against rival Newaygo was just your kind of game. Both teams needed a win within the CSAA Gold Conference; The Newaygo Lions to stay relevant, and the Grant Tigers for outright ownership of third in the standings. But in order to do that, both teams had to shut down their rival’s offensive firepower. For Newaygo that meant not giving Throop any looks while at the same time limiting shots from Arends, Passage, Rider, and Doornbos. For Grant, they were tasked with defending against Frisbie and Goodin all while keeping the Long sisters to minimum points.
The first quarter started purely as a defensive battle with both teams limiting looks and getting a feel for their opponent’s game plan. Grant would be the first to draw blood as Jaycee Rider found the net for three. That started a tit-for-tat as both the Lions and the Tigers would simply trade swipes at each other ending the first in a ten point tie.
That same defensive tit-for-tat would continue into the second quarter. However, while Grant was able to shut down Newaygo’s inside game and only limit the Lions to one bucket on the inside, the Lions learned that left the outside vulnerable. Jaylee Long exploited that vulnerability twice which equalized any of the second quarter points that the Tigers put up giving Sophia Frisbie’s three and Lily Ruehmeier’s only two for the game enough to head into the locker room at half with a five point advantage.
Five points is not insurmountable to bounce back from, and the Tiger’s took the court to start the second half with hopes of squashing the Lion’s ability to find the bucket outside the arc. Much like the first half, defensively neither team was willing to concede. However, it would be Newaygo that would find the net first this half, and they did so with another three from Frisbie. Not to be out done, Grant’s Sara Arends swapped Frisbie’s three with her only points of the game. But then the chink in Grant’s amour opened up. An outside steal from Newaygo’s Emerson Goodin exposed a weakness in Grant’s offense. Even though Grant made up those two points off Goodin’s steal that exposer was enough, and thus began a thirteen point run for Newaygo which started with another three points from Jaylee Long and a subsequent steal from Jaxi Long. In the end, that run was too much for Grant to overcome. While they found themselves defensively again, Newaygo simply ran out the clock and took one from the Tigers.
“I thought it was a great battle, and certainly Newaygo came out and shot the ball really well; four or five threes I could imagine. When they played one-on-one, we really didn’t have an answer for it, and that’s credit for what they can do. I thought we gave moments of intensity and focus, and then a few lacks defensively kind of put it out of reach for us. Great job from Newaygo tonight,” stated Grant’s coach Paige Paulsen.
Newaygo’s coach, Nate Thomasma shared, “I’m happy with what we did. I thought Grant played hard. Paige does a good job getting those guys locked in defensively so he had a good game plan with Jaylee and Jaxi. We kind of did just enough to pull it out tonight so happy with a win.”
Leading in Newaygo’s win was Jaylee Long with sixteen points followed by Sophia Frisbie with ten. Emerson Goodin shot seven, Jaxi Long put up six, and Lily Ruehmeier added two. The Lions go on the road and will face the Reed City Coyotes in Reed City this Friday.
Leading in the Tiger’s efforts was Kirstyn Throop with ten points followed by Savannah Passage with seven. Sara Arends and Jaycee Rider each had three, and Kassidy Doornbos and Ashley Longcore each contributed two. Grant will travel to Big Rapids to face the Cardinals this Friday.