Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Reed City 58 Grant 45
Even though tonight’s game will go down in the record books as a loss, the Lady Tigers are considering it a success.
“We got better this week. The game showed it. I think we had 45 points. That’s testament to the girls believing we can still do it. I like the way we competed, and I like the way we played, and I think we are trending the right way,” stated Grant’s head coach, Paige Paulsen. The Tiger’s matched up without their starting center, junior Kylie Patton, against CSAA Gold Conference rivals, the Coyotes of Reed City. Patton is out an indefinite period of time after suffering a knee injury during practice. This would prove to become the Achilles Heel of Grant’s defense.
To say the game was physical may be an understatement. Early in the first quarter, Grant’s junior guard, Cecelia Male, went down with an injury, and was unable to return to play. Turnovers abounded amongst both teams. And the refs were handing out fouls like it was a Two-For-One sale; some 44 between the two teams. Yet despite Reed City’s high pressure play, Grant stayed competitive the entire game. However it would be the lack of Patton in center that Reed City’s size was able to exploit under the boards.
“I thought it was a great game, especially since we competed the whole time,” coach Paulsen shared. “We had to overcome a couple injuries, and everybody stepped up and contributed. Reed City is a very physical team, and I thought we held our own, and at some times even out matched their physicality. If we could have eliminated some of those turnovers, made some free throws, maybe down the stretch it would have been a little different, but it was still a great job of the girls to keep playing with that intensity the entire time. I mean down fifteen or seventeen and still making it a game.”
Leading the Tiger’s effort was sophomore guard, Nichole Whan, with 19 points. Savannah Passage shot seven, and Emerson Cole and Angela Contreras both contributed six. Also contributing were Jill Arends (4), Brooklyn Presler (3), Alyssa VanSingel (3), and Kirstyn Throop (1). The Lady Tigers next face Chippewa Hills in another CSAA Gold match up on Tuesday at 7:00 pm in Grant.
Grant 59 Reed City 51
Grant’s focus over the winter break was to get healthy and focus on the upcoming conference matchups. The Reed City Coyotes would be their first test in a five game run of CSAA Gold Conference games. With everyone healthy, the only questions left was how focused are the Tigers, and can that focus overcome Reed City’s physical size?
The Tiger’s wasted no time showing their fans that Reed City’s size was not an issue, and that their focus was dialed in. Senior guard, Tyler Naffziger, opened up Grant’s scoring effort with a baseline three, and that’s all it took to fuel the aggressive Tiger’s tanks. The Coyotes were unable to even put up a single point until the Tiger’s blazed by with 20 points of their own. The rest of the game would not fare much better for the Coyotes. While Reed City made up some ground in the second quarter while Grant played their bench personnel, the Tigers were able to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the game.
“We started so fast. I think we made five threes in the first quarter. We shot the lights out. We are a good shooting team and inevitably you regress back. We knew they weren’t going to keep turning the ball over, and they made a run,” Grant’s head coach, Matthew McCorkle stated. “I’m really pleased with my bench especially in the fourth quarter. I had some guys, Cole Chase, knocking down some threes. I love to see that especially since we have been practicing hard over the break, and everybody got to play so I was glad to reward the bench guys with some run too.”
Sophomore guard, Carter Chase, led the Tiger’s scoring effort with 19 points, and Tyler Naffziger closely followed with 18. Cole Chase added to the effort with 10, as did Michael Frey (6), Frederick Hull (2), Karlton Zerlaut (2), and Brett Long (2). The Tigers now head into a three game road trip starting with Chippewa Hills on Tuesday at 7:00 pm. They will also face Tri County on Friday, and then to Fremont the following Tuesday before returning home to play Newaygo.