Category Archives: Sports

Comstock Park JV Basketball Takes Two Over Sparta

Rivalries always add an extra spark to the gym and Thursday night’s contests were no different in Comstock Park. Despite things being icy outside, the gym was on fire all night with stellar play on the court and excited fans in the stands.

The Comstock Park boys junior varsity fought off surge after surge by the Spartans in the final quarter and withstood the attack as it was elevated in the final minutes. The Panthers managed to seal the game at the free throw line and ran off the court in excited fashion.

The Panther girls took less time to establish their path to victory and were able to force turnovers by poking away the dribble or intercepting the Spartan pass attempts. Even with a solid lead, the game remained competitive with the Spartans refusing to quit against their rivals.

Both teams will meet again later in the season and it will be interesting to see how much the tides may turn in the intervening weeks.

Kelloggsville Rockets Grounded in League Play at Sparta

It didn’t take long for the Sparta Spartans to make it obvious that the Rockets were not cleared for takeoff on Thursday night.

Sparta got a bucket to fall and immediately put on the full court pressure, which proved too much for the Kelloggsville backcourt. That, in turn, led to chance after chance at putting the ball in the hoop on breakaways and opportunities for further full court defense.

It took less than a quarter for things to be out of reach for the visiting Rockets and the Spartans are primed for tonight’s rivalry matchup on the road against neighboring Comstock Park tonight.

Michigan MAC Men’s Hoops Struggling

In recent years, the Michigan MAC was in the thick of things and managed signature upsets if not outright success, but countless transfers have left things more in doubt in the 2021/2022 season.

Central Michigan (2-12 overall, 1-2 conference) and Western Michigan (4-13 overall, 0-6 conference) are at the very bottom of the MAC. The rest of the conference maintains overall records near .500 or better, but Eastern Michigan (7-9 overall, 2-3 conference) is the lone Michigan MAC program to be clawing out of the gutter.

It is not uncommon for MAC programs to struggle through non-conference play and hit their stride after the new year, but while that trend could be relied on in previous years, EMU and CMU are on two game losing streaks and WMU is on an astonishing 7-game losing slide despite nearly knocking off Akron (10-5) by a point.

Western Michigan, for their part, has been heavily impacted by transfers as MAC standouts left for the Big 10/Big East (F, Brandon Johnson) and Sun Belt/PAC-12 (PG, Michael Flowers). Those transfers followed the firing of longtime Bronco coach, Steve Hawkins. Forward, Chase Barrs, also transferred to Florida A&M and while he never played a huge role for the Broncos as an underclassmen, his size and experience two years later is missed.

Central Michigan has also been slammed by transfers and graduated key players in droves to make matters worse in recent years. PJ Mitchell, Ra’Shad McDaniels, Malik Muhammad and several others in the last two off-seasons. The vacuum created an incredible situation where the Chippewas added an astonishing 12 new players before this season (4 freshman and 8 transfers). The upheaval followed the firing of longtime coach Keno Davis and hiring of Kentucky basketball staff member, Tony Barbee.

Eastern Michigan has graduated key pieces in recent years, but has also managed to develop and, perhaps most importantly, retain their young talent. Those underclassmen have given the Eagles consistency in their roster with names like Darion Spottsville, Thomas Binelli and Derek Ballard providing leadership to a large freshman/transfer class that has made a huge impact. That consistency has given the Eagles’ turnover what the Broncos and Chippewas have been missing: chemistry. The Eagles also have a first year head coach in Stan Heath, but the circumstances for previous coach, Rob Murphy, dismissal was less tumultuous and the new hire has been the only among his peers to see reasonable success.

The jury is still out on what these three programs will produce in the coming years, but it appears each has a long rebuild ahead of it with Eastern Michigan having a legitimate head start.

Birds of a Different Feather: Kenzie Bowers Thriving at Next Level

Four-time all-state guard, Kenzie Bowers, traded the red, white and black of the Kent City High School Eagles for the red, white and black of the Illinois State University Redbirds when she committed to the Missouri Valley Conference Division 1 program during her senior campaign.

The standout guard became as big a household name as a high school girls basketball player could hope to become and did so representing a small school basketball powerhouse in one of the Michigan High School Athletics Association’s (MHSAA) smallest divisions under the tutelage of head coach, Scott Carlson (now the Director of Scouting and Student-Athlete Development at Western Michigan University). Bowers capped off her high school career with an abbreviated season due to Covid delays instituted by the MHSAA, but still managed to finish with an impressive 21-1 record and a state runner-up title.

Her 1,822 points are a school record and would have certainly eclipsed the 2,000 point mark, had she been given a full senior season. Bowers finished her prep career averaging 19.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 5.0 steals per game as a four-year varsity letter winner.

Bowers has seen success at every level and has been a starter her entire career, so the shift to the Division 1 collegiate ranks brought with it an unusual experience: coming off the bench.

“The big difference is that in high school I needed to score maybe 15 to 20 points a game, whereas here, I don’t have to score at all. I didn’t score at all today and that’s perfectly fine as long as I’m doing what I can at the point, playing defense, getting rebounds and assists. That’s the biggest difference. I have to play hard all-around and that doesn’t mean I have to score a lot.”

Despite having to learn and adapt to a new role, Bowers has thrived in just her first season as a Redbird. She has set season highs for herself of 17 points (Missouri Baptist), 5 rebounds (St. Louis University), 2 assists (SLU) and 2 steals (Mo. Baptist) while averaging over 13 minutes per game as a true freshman.

On New Year’s Day, Bowers got the call to start for the Redbirds after three players, and ISU’s top two scorers, were lost to Covid protocols. The opportunity could not be more apropos, kicking off the traditional day of new opportunities with her first collegiate start. It also happened to coincide with Bowers’ first appearance in the historic I-74 rivalry against bitter conference foe and defending MVC tournament champs, Bradley University.

Bowers appreciated the opportunity. “It was exciting. It’s a different feel when I’m starting and I feel like I almost play a little bit different. It’s cool that I’ve got to that point and I’ve worked hard for it.”

The fun and drama of her first start was mirrored in the game, itself. The Redbirds (pre-season MVC #4) fell behind the Bradley Braves (pre-season MVC #5) by ten after a blistering scoring spree and things looked to be getting out of hand with just a few minutes left in the first half before ISU responded with an incredible 14-0 run of their own behind a series of three point buckets by senior guard Kayel Newland, which capped the half off with a 35-32 Redbird lead.

The Redbirds came out of the break and continued their dominant play, extending their lead to 14 before the Braves made one last attempt to close the gap. ISU finished things out with the 64-57 victory over their rivals to open Missouri Valley Conference play. Bowers finished the day scoreless, but contributed 21 critical minutes, as well as 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block on the defensive end.

“It was great. The coaches came in the locker room and we sprayed them with water. It’s really fun. You can tell there is a big rivalry during the game.”

The victory set the Redbirds off on the right foot, overcoming the shorthanded effort, to begin MVC play 1-0 with lofty goals on the horizon. “This is a good start to hopefully getting a conference championship. That’s a big goal and something that we are all working hard for.”

Bowers had many things to be thankful for in celebrating the big victory and her first collegiate start.

“I’ve had a lot of people help me get here. Scott (Carlson) for example. He’s always pushed me really hard and help me get to where I am today. My parents have helped me a lot. I’ve had lots of good friends and teammates that have pushed me really hard. Kent City is a great place to be.”

Bowers is likely to resume her role as an integral piece of the Redbird attack off the bench in the coming weeks, but the experience of starting this early is instrumental in the growth of her young collegiate career. She and the Redbirds will trek through the next 4 games against favorable opponents Indiana State (MVC #9), Evansville (MVC #10), Valparaiso (MVC #6), Loyola Chicago (MVC #7) and Southern Illinois (MVC #8), before their biggest tests of the conference schedule with three consecutive matchups against the pre-season MVC top 3 programs: Missouri State (MVC #1), Northern Iowa (#3) and Drake (#2).

MSU Spartans Standout Backs Out of Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl Game

Junior Spartan star running back, Kenneth Walker III has announced that he will be entering the NFL Draft and forgoing his final year of collegiate eligibility. He has also announced that he will be withdrawing from participation in the team’s Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl game against Pitt to focus on combine preparation.

The move is a blow to the Spartan offense, which has largely relied on the stellar runner, but the matchup against Pitt is still a favorable one, as their opponent failed to earn a victory against MAC participant Western Michigan earlier in the year. Whether Pitt star quarterback, Kenny Pickett is undecided on participation in the game. In the end, the likely biggest loser in the Peach Bowl will be the viewers with stars holding out in the teams’ final games of the 2021-2022 season.

Mona Shores Scales Huge Deficit for 1-Point Victory Against Grand Haven

Mona Shores fell behind by double digits in the first half before mounting an incredible comeback that pulled them within striking distance just before entering the halftime break. Both teams ratcheted down their defenses in the second half and points came with great difficulty. Through several lead changes, Mona Shores found themselves up by a single point with sparing seconds left on the clock and the possession in the hands of Grand Haven for one last attempt to take control. Grand Haven ran the length of the floor with speed and got a last second layup opportunity with little hindrance from the defense, who seemed to want to avoid sending the driving Buccaneers to the line for an opportunity to take the lead in the bonus. The shot just missed on the left side layup and the ball was secured by Mona Shores as time expired.

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