Story and photos by Mike Gesler
Grant 44 Reed City 39
The Lady Tigers were looking to keep their conference record unblemished tonight against the Lady Coyotes of Reed City. Reed City though was determined not to enter the winter break with a winless record, and were salivating at a chance for Tiger meat.
The game did not begin well for either team. Both were slow to get on the board, and it was Reed City who struck the first blow. The Tigers would have to wait four minutes before Kirstyn Throop would convert one of a one-and-one and give the Tigers their first point. After that both teams seem to find their rhythm, and a first quarter battle ensued. By the time the dust settled, Reed City had a one point advantage going into the second quarter.
The second quarter saw an apparent strategic adjustment from Reed City by putting Throop on a tight leash. Reed City’s talented and athletic guard, Taylor Harrison, did everything she could to stymie Throop’s play. This adjustment paid off as the Coyotes held the Tigers to only five points in the second while putting eleven more points on the board for themselves. Going into the half, Reed City looked as if they had caged the Tigers with a score of fourteen to twenty-one.
I don’t know what Coach Paulsen said in the locker room, but the Tigers came out in the second half ready to show the Coyotes that whatever wounds they may have suffered were now fully healed. After Reed City quickly put another two points on the board, Grant went on a six point run to bring the game within an easy three point difference. And even though Reed City continued to keep Throop from finding the net that did not stop Throop from finding her open teammate. With the third quarter coming to a close, Grant had chiseled Reed City’s lead down to two.
The start of the fourth saw Savannah Passage tie the game up, but it would be a pair of free-throws followed quickly with a three point bucket, both from Sara Arends, that would shift the momentum clearly over to Grant’s side. With seventy ticks left on the clock and a nine point advantage, it appeared that Grant was about to secure their second win of the season. However, the clock was stopped at a minute-ten because Throop had committed her fifth foul and put Reed City’s Harrison on the line. With Throop now out of the game, Reed City made quick work of the next minute and brought the game back within three. The Lady Tigers were not having their best night at the line so an intentional foul on Jaycee Rider with six point six seconds left seemed like a smart decision out of Reed City. With a three point difference, Throop out, and Harrison waiting for her team to put the ball in her hands, Rider needed to come through in the clutch. With nerves of steel, Rider drained both free-throws. There was nothing left that the Coyotes could do as Grant made a terrific second half come back for the win.
“I thought it was a great bounce game,” stated Coach Paulsen. “We had a good Central Montcalm game. Sparta was not our best effort. Today we came back, and did the things we talked about doing on Wednesday. The girls played their butts off. Reed City is tough, physical, and aggressive. I thought we did a good job matching it, and doing what we needed to do at the end to pull out a victory.”
Leading tonight in Grant’s scoring effort was Jaycee Rider with twelve followed closely by Ashley Longcore with nine, Sara Arends with eight, Kirstyn Throop with seven, and Kassidy Doornbos with six. Savannah Passage also put up two. The Tigers go into the winter break with conference record of 2-0, and 2-4 overall. When play resumes in January, the Tigers go on a long away stretch beginning with Manistee. Their next home game is not until the twenty-first against Newaygo.