By Mike Gesler
Photos by Catalpa Photography
Tri County 58 Newaygo 40
“As it is whenever you play Newaygo, it seems like it’s always a grind, and it’s never easy. Their kids play really hard,” shared Tri County’s Coach Overbeek. Tri County would open their Class B District 60 playoffs against the Lions of Newaygo. Tri County came into tonight winning six of their last seven games, and hoped that momentum would continue to see them through the playoffs. Newaygo, on the other hand, had lost their last five and would desperately need to find their A game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Tri County’s Grace Miller got the Vikings going right away from outside the arc. This did not deter the Lions as Jaylee Long answered right back with three points of her own. From this point on, it was game as both teams brought considerable pressure on each other. With a minute thirty left in the first, it appeared that Tri County was starting to pull away, but Newaygo was undeterred as Alexis Brocker hit three to narrow the margin to two and slow down the Viking momentum. At the end of the first, the Vikings had a narrow four point lead at 12-8.
The second quarter started with Newaygo’s Jaylee Long once again finding a look from outside the arc to close the gap to one. For the first half of the second, the Lions confounded the Vikings shutting down their shooters, and winning the war of the boards. But Tri County was not to be discouraged. The Vikings finally found their rhythm, and went on a five point run before Newaygo called a timeout. The Lions made a few minor adjustments, and came out of that timeout with a four point run of their own to bring the game within three before Tri County called a timeout. A pair of threes from the Vikings closed out the half with Tri County heading to the locker room with a six point lead 25-19.
Tri County picked up the second half where they left off, and ran up another quick six points on the Lions before they suddenly went cold. While Newaygo benefited from this cool down, it would be four minutes into the quarter before Madison Bush was able to spark some life into the Lions. Sophia Frisbie then added two on free throws, followed by another three from Jaylee Long, and suddenly Newaygo was within five points. As the quarter closed, the gap was a mere seven points as Tri County narrowly held the lead 37-30.
It would be the fourth quarter that Tri County would finally shake the Lions. While Newaygo battled hard, the experience of the Vikings would be more than the Lions could overcome. For every net Newaygo hit, the Vikings would hit two. And by the time the final buzzer sounded, Tri County stood victorious with a final score of 58-40.
“I thought it was pretty even,” stated Newaygo’s Coach Thomasma. “We gambled a lot at the end. The score obviously I don’t think wasn’t indicative of how close it was. The free throw line hurts us; we didn’t make it, and they did. And the three point line, they made some and we didn’t. I’m disappointed that we lost, but not obviously disappointed in their effort or anything like that. It was a good year for them, and it was enjoyable coming to practice every day. They were a good group to be around. We just came up short. Credit Tri County.”
“I just told the girls in the locker room it could have been the seniors last game tonight if it weren’t for our young kids stepping up. I thought Jessica Thompson and Alicia Bowen were outstanding. Grace Miller got her eleven points. It just was an overall good night to pull that out. I thought we played through a lot of adversity and frustration tonight, and we managed to stretch the lead there in the second half.” Coach Overbeek shared.
Three Vikings were in double digits tonight. Junior Jessica Thompson led with 17, followed by freshman Alicia Bowen and Grace Miller each with eleven. Taylor Reed added four, Dayoni Mahlich added 3, and Julia Bice, Errin Kamp, Mackalia Sprik, Emma Sickelsteel, and Emma Overbeek each had two. Tri County will face Grant in the second round on Wednesday in Fremont beginning at 7:30 pm.
For Newaygo, freshman Jaylee Long led with 16 points, followed by Alexis Brocker with nine. Also adding to Newaygo’s effort was Sophia Frisbie (6), Lillian Ruehmeier (5), Madison Bush (3), and Daniella duChemin (1).