Both of Newaygo’s Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball teams played in their home gym on Friday, January 5. This was the home opener for the boys team.
The Lady Lions entered this game with an overall record of 2-3 and a conference record of 1-1. Central Montcalm finished last season tied for 2nd in the conference, and went into the game with an overall 7-0 undefeated record, so the Lions knew it was going to be a battle.
From tip-off to the final buzzer, the Central Montcalm Hornets dominated the court, especially underneath the basket. Every time the Lions tried to pass underneath, they would be shut down, the ball stolen and headed back the other direction.
On the other hand, the Lions had trouble stopping the Hornets from getting underneath the basket for high percentage shots. The score quickly escalated in the Hornets favor and they never let down.
At half time the girls went into the locker rooms with the Lions down 12 to 31. And while Newaygo never gave up, kept trying to find new ways to score, and fought through the well-rounded team of Central Montcalm, the final score ended with a 30 point differential: Lions 29, Hornets 59.
“Central Montcalm raced out to a 1-5 1st quarter lead and we were never able to catch up. I liked the way we competed tonight. We played well in spurts but to beat a really good team like Central Montcalm, we had too many mental mistakes on the defensive end to compete,” says Nate Thomasma, Lions Head Coach.
Jaylee Long led the Lions with 9 points and 5 rebounds. Lily Ruehmeier had 6 points and 4 rebounds. Hannah Putnam led the Hornets with 16 points.
Central Montcalm improves to 8-0 (3-0 conference). Newaygo falls to 2-4 (1-2).
Girls are home on Tuesday, January 9 against Big Rapids.
Following a season opening loss to Reed City, the Varsity Boys Newaygo Lions have won the remainder of their games leading into this home opener against the Hornets. Coming in, the Central Montcalm Hornets were 4-2.
Both teams were prepared for the first Friday night game of the new year. In the first minutes, the score stayed tight, back and forth point for point. Then Central Montcalm found themselves stuck at 8 points as the Lions started to put defensive pressure on the Hornets and sunk their baskets at the other end. Newaygo’s hustle was paying off as the first quarter ended with the Lions up 15-8.
Central Montcalm wouldn’t go away easily and after taking care of the ball for a stretch, they came within 5 points of the Lions with 5 minutes left in the second quarter. The Lions responded with another steal and Karrip hit one downtown to continue the run. Swinhart immediately followed it up with tough work underneath the basket for another 2 points. A steal from Manlick, a foul by Central Montcalm and Newaygo goes up 25-16 with 4:16 left in the half. Ryan Brummel hit a timely 3 to go up 30-18 with 2:19 left and the Lions head into the locker room up 36-20 at halftime.
The second half was much of the same to start. Brummel hit another 3 midway through the 3rd to put the Lions up 44-26. Cooper Heinzman took a rock solid offensive foul to get the Lions charged up even more than they already were and the score at the end of the 3rd had Newaygo up 51-36.
To start the 4th quarter, Karrip hit yet another 3, seemingly punishing the Hornets. But Central Montcalm refused to give up. They slowly crawled back into the game and with 1:42 left the score was 64-57. The Hornets stole the ball, got fouled and made one of the two free throws to go within 6 points. Heinzman made a 2 point under the basket to respond. In an intense final minute, Central Montcalm took multiple 3 point shots to lessen the point deficit, but they just couldn’t get them to fall. Despite the valiant effort by the Hornets, the final score ended with the Lions 67, Central Montcalm 61.
Mitchell Karrip led the Lions with 21 points and Connor Swinehart finished with 13. Defensive pressure from Morgen Manlick forced several of the Lions’ turnovers.
“This was a good first game back from break. Our kids played hard and were able to come away with a win,” says Joe Barrette, Lions Head Coach.
Boys are away on Tuesday, January 9 against Big Rapids.