Tag Archives: Girls Basketball

Kent City Returns with State Finalist Trophy in Tow

There is an old adage in basketball: end on a make. The quip relates to players’ seeming necessity to not end a shooting session or practice until they can end on a made basket. The final score did not reflect the outcome the Eagles had hoped it would as Grass Lake held on for the narrow 52-50 win at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI, but Kent City did what all competitors hope to do: end on a make. Despite the outcome being different than hoped, the Eagles capped off their season in a fitting way, making the final bucket of the 2021 Division 3 season.

As things kicked off on Friday afternoon, Grass Lake was clearly the beneficiary of fresh legs after their semifinal game on Wednesday was cancelled by forfeit and the Warriors came out firing on all cylinders. Kent City managed to hold Grass Lake All State performers, Lexus Bargesser and Abrie Cabana under wraps in the first half. That focus led to a wild shooting day for Grass Lake’s Gabi Lutchka. Lutchka played lights out in the first half with 14 points, including four three point buckets, before the Eagles held her scoreless in the second half. While the Eagles were able to spread the scoring around in the first half and benefitted from two stellar three point buckets by Taryn Preston, the Eagles shot a solid, but sustainable percentage from the field. That shooting kept them in the game, but the Eagles fell behind by double digits and looked to be out of it multiple times, only to rally back each and every time.

Bargesser took over the scoring duties in the second half for Grass Lake, most coming on fast break layups, and finished the day with an impressive stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 1 block. The Warriors finish the season 20-1 and Division 3 champion.

The Eagles were led by senior guards Jenna Harrison and Kenzie Bowers who finished with 16 and 13, respectively. The Eagles finish their season 21-1 and brought home the school’s first ever girls basketball state finalist trophy. In the end, the Eagles battled back every time it appeared they were out of it and fell just two points short with the season ending 52-50 loss. This won’t be the last time these seniors see the hardwood as Kenzie Bowers heads to Illinois State and Jenna Harrison will continue her basketball career at Sienna Heights next year. The 2021 senior class will be a tough hole to fill, but if this post-season has showed one thing, it is that the Eagles have a bright future ahead of them with several returners ready to take over as program leaders.

Eagles Fly High on way to State Championship

The Kent City Eagles (21-0) received their first real test of the post-season against undefeated Calumet High School, but answered the call to hand the Copper Kings their first loss of the season in the state semi-final game. Calumet ends their season with a record of 20-1.

While much of the Kent City plaudits are doled out to the senior pair of Jenna Harrison and Kenzie Bowers, and deservedly so, the Eagles were driven largely by underclassman in the early going.

The game opened up for the Eagles with freshman Maddie Geers leading the way on the scoreboard, breaking loose inside the Copper King defense and finding her way to the bucket on several trips down the court. Things began to slow on the offensive end for Kent City and shots were uncharacteristically off the mark in the unfamiliar confines of the Breslin Center arena. They were off the mark, that is, until another underclassman, sophomore guard Lexie Bowers, came alive and dropped repeated triples that pulled the Eagles from several possessions behind to a small lead part way through the second quarter. Though Lexie Bowers didn’t post anymore points after that blitz, the run was crucial to getting Kent City back into things when they needed it most.

That flurry put Kent City in the driver’s seat most of the rest of the afternoon. Calumet made several runs throughout the game and even took the lead again on a few occasions, but those early runs enabled other Eagles to find their shooting touch and join the scoring fun.

The bigger court neutered the Kent City press to some degree and the arena setting cooled early shooting, but the Eagles pushed on until things started to click up and down the roster. Despite a slow shooting start, Jenna Harrison rallied back in the second half to lead all Eagles scorers with 15 and was followed by Maddie Geers (14), Kenzie Bowers (13), Lexie Bowers (10) and Emmalyn Geers (7). In the end, the Eagles held on for the 59-53 semi-final victory.

Once again, Kent City showed that they win games as a team and has players capable of stepping up to score when others start cold. The team first mentality is behind so much of the Eagles’ success this season and they will need to conjure every ounce of it when they face the vaunted Warriors of Grass Lake High School who notably beat Detroit Renaissance; a team that will be participating in the Division 1 State Final this week.

Despite the long odds and underdog status, Kent City seems prepped to slug it out with anyone.

Kent City Punches Ticket to Final Four over Schoolcraft

Kent City achieved the seemingly impossible task of holding a quarterfinal qualifying opponent to zero points for an entire quarter to open their Elite 8 contest with Schoolcraft High School on Monday night.

The teams met in Portage and filled “The Igloo” with hopeful fans and players a single game away from a trip to the Breslin Center. Kent City made sure there were no illusions that the trip would be as easily earned as several other contests the Schoolcraft Eagles had experienced in the postseason thus far.

Kent City led Schoolcraft 10-0 after the first quarter and went into the half with an emphatic 28-6 lead. Things didn’t get much easier for Schoolcraft in the second half and the SHS Eagles were only able to net another thirteen points in the second half, while Kent City added another twenty-four points and ended the night with the 52-19 victory and a ticket to the Division 3 Final Four.

Kent City was led by the Bowers sisters with senior Kenzie ending with 20 and sophomore Lexie finishing the night with 11.

The Kent City (20-0) squad will face Calumet High School (20-0), who upset Maple City Glen Lake (ranked 6th in polls before Districts), in a tight battle that ended with Calumet victorious, 73-69. While both teams carry impressive undefeated resumes into the semi-final, there is a reason the games are played and it is clear that anything can happen when teams figuratively tip off on Wednesday just after high noon.

KENT CITY FACES SCHOOLCRAFT IN “BATTLE OF THE BIRDS” QUARTERFINAL TONIGHT

The Kent City (19-0) girls basketball team will be heading back to the MHSAA Division 3 state quarterfinal for the second time in four years tonight in a matchup with Schoolcraft High School (14-2).

The two teams had relatively untested paths to the quarterfinal round with Kent City’s toughest contest coming in the opening round of regionals against Western Michigan Christian; a game the KC Eagles still won by 16. Schoolcraft on the other hand also burned through district competition before meeting a tough opening regional against Hackett Catholic Prep (Kalamazoo) in a slim 53-51 victory for the SHS Eagles. Schoolcraft bounced back and slammed the door shut on Gobles High School, allowing just 12 points to the opposition in a low scoring defensive battle that still netted a comfortable 25-point victory for SHS.

Each team will look to rely on stout defenses in attempts to cool the broad range of scoring threats that both squads will be bringing to the neutral site at Portage Northern High School tonight. The teams will tip off at 7pm with hopes of claiming their spot in the Division 3 Final Four at the Breslin Center in Lansing, Michigan this Wednesday. Tickets for tonight’s game go on sale at noon.

Kent city Takes Total Control to Win Regional over Covenant Christian

One need only watch a few moments of Kent City’s warmups on Wednesday night to see that the Covenant Christian Chargers were going to have their hands full. The Eagles were lighting up the nets well before game time and the hot hands didn’t cool when the clock started ticking.

The Eagles took the opening possession and immediately went on a 11-0 run. Their offense cooled slightly after the initial blitz, but carried a 15-6 lead into the second quarter. The six points scored by Covenant Christian in the first quarter would be the most they would notch in any quarter; netting five in the second and six again in the third and fourth quarters.

On the other end, the ladies in black continued to show why they have consistently been ranked among the best teams in the state this year and in prior seasons as well. The Chargers found some incredible defensive plays from Chloe Kaptein, who forcefully swatted several Eagle shot attempts and led the team along with Grace Kalsbeek with 4 points each. While the Eagles relied heavily on the sharpshooting of senior guards Jenna Harrison and Kenzie Bowers on Monday night, Kent City managed to score across the roster with five players scoring nine points or more.

Jenna Harrison led the Eagles for a second straight game and finished the night with 20 points. Lexie Bowers came off the bench to add 14 and was closely followed with 11 each by Maddie Geers & Taryn Preston. The Eagles made 14 three point shots for the game. One brief moment of concern came late in the game when Lexie Bowers appeared to bend her knee awkwardly, but she seemed to be moving ok a few minutes later.

The Eagles advance to their second quarterfinal appearance in four years with the 69-23 victory and face Schoolcraft High School, the winner of a 37-12 matchup with Gobles High School, at Portage Northern High School next Monday Night for the right to make the trip to Lansing’s Breslin Center in the state semifinal.

Kent city Advances Past Western michigan Christian to Regional Final

A year after being the unfortunate recipient of a Round of 32 showdown with then state ranked #1 Pewamo-Westphalia as the #2 ranked division 3 team in Michigan, the Eagles managed to overcome a significant size differential and keep things interesting long enough to blow the lid off the scoreboard and catch fire in the second half from beyond the arch in 2021 against a stout Western Michigan Christian team. The shooting spree coming across the lineup at one point in the second half pushed a narrow lead to 15 and the Eagles never looked back, advancing to the Division 3 sweet 16 and a rematch with Covenant Christian in the regional final.

The game was a low scoring affair in the first half as Kent City took a narrow 17-16 lead into the break. The Eagles scored as many points in each of the next two quarters, however, and stretched their lead going into the meat of the fourth quarter. The onslaught of three point buckets forced Western Michigan Christian to begin fouling their way to the bonus with a full four and a half minutes to go.

Jenna Harrison led the way for the Eagles with 21 and fellow senior guard Kenzie Bowers followed closely behind with 19. The Eagles made 10 three point buckets on the night across all scorers. Junior Kyla Wiersma led the way for WMC with 21 of her team’s 37 points in a dominant performance, that included the entirety of her team’s third quarter points. The Eagles advance to Wednesday’s showdown after the 53-37 win and face the Chargers of Covenant Christian. The two teams played in late February with the Eagles claiming the 20-point victory, but the Chargers will have their eye on turning the tables in the regional championship game and hope to earn a birth in the Division 3 Elite 8 state quarterfinal next week.

4th Time’s the Charm… Again

The 2021 senior class of girls basketball players at Kent City has been on the right side of quite a few wins in the past four years. The Division 3 District 74 championship game on Friday night was yet another notch in that long list of victories the Eagles have claimed during that span and the team’s fourth district title in as many years.

In a rematch of the district final from a year ago, Kent City met conference rival and fellow perennial power, Morley-Stanwood. The teams had played a tight game earlier this season in Kent City with the Mohawks even taking the lead late in the contest before the Eagles responded and won by a narrow double digit tally. A month later the two teams met again with a far less balanced result and Kent City claimed a 29-point victory on the road on the Mohawks home court. The third matchup of the year looked to be brewing up a real battle, as the Eagles chase a historic run that is four years in the making and the Mohawks looked to grab the upset on the neutral site at White Cloud High School.

While things remained close for the first several minutes and both teams settled into the flow of the game, Kent City’s tenacious and unrelenting defense began to take a toll. The pressure forced the Mohawks to play at a fast pace that caused them to sometimes miss opportunities even when they were presented with good looks at the basket. It was clear that the internal clock in player’s minds, analyzing the time they had before once again getting smothered by a defender, forced them to put up shots quicker than even the pace of the game might have required.

On the other end, Kent City also missed several good looks in the early going and a few other times throughout the rest of the contest, but the Eagles benefitted from senior guard Kenzie Bowers early and often; showing why she is a four-time All State player and in the running for Miss Michigan Basketball.

Bowers was electric on both ends of the floor, hitting big shots from all areas of the floor and dishing passes to open teammates with a precision that could only have been honed in her years of experience. Lexie Bowers also caught fire off the bench and, at one point, knocked down three consecutive three point buckets, putting a firm cap on the evening in White Cloud.

The Mohawks battled for the entirety of the game and left every ounce of energy on the floor. In the end, several missed looks may have brought the game within striking distance, but it was clear that Morley-Stanwood was on the unfortunate side of the Eagle’s date with destiny this year.

Kent City finished the night with a final score of 63-32 over the Mohawks.

Morley-Stanwood caps off another excellent and successful season and send off seniors Natalie Kukla, Isabel Devereaux and Brooke Brauher. The Mohawks also bid farewell to longtime coach and father of Brooke Brauher, Rob Brauher, who coached his last game for the Mohawks and will be stepping down from the head coaching position.

Kent City advances to the first round of regionals and will face West Michigan Christian at Calvin Christian High School next Monday night.

Familiar Faces Share Milestones as Kent City Girls Best Holton

Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison have become so synonymous with Kent City varsity basketball in the last four years, that one just assumes they will be back again next year. The two guards have played with such poise and skill throughout their four year varsity careers that they could have been confused for seniors many times along the way. One wonders if opposing coaches have looked ahead to the forthcoming Kent City roster each year and thought, “They are coming back again?!”

Despite so much of the focus in Kent City being put on the team and program as a whole, a tall task when the town of just over a thousand people carries a roster with a four time all-state nominee and Miss Michigan Basketball candidate (Bowers), the level of camaraderie has been by design and is a testament to one of the things that makes high school sports so special: community.

While this year’s senior class has had a lasting impact on the Kent City program, one need only take a cursory look at the underclassmen and even youth programs to see that the end is not in sight for this small town powerhouse. However, when the visiting Holton Red Devils came to town on Friday night, it was clear that the torch was not yet ready to be passed and the two familiar faces of Harrison and Bowers, covered in masks this season, donned the numbers 4 & 23 once again, showing just how much they have meant to a program they have represented the last four years.

The game opened with Holton showing they were prepared to fight it out with everything they had until the final buzzer, but it soon became clear that Kent City was simply too much for the Red Devils. Defensive pressure forced turnover after turnover, seemingly leading to an assembly line of scores, coming courtesy of the entire Eagle roster and culminated in Bowers scoring her 1500th career point on route to a 24-0 first quarter and a 48-0 halftime score. Just a couple minutes into the second half, Harrison netted her 1000th point; fittingly on a three point attempt. Despite being shut out in the first half, the Red Devils kept their spirits and competitiveness high on their way to a few big buckets in the second half. Despite the valiant effort, the Eagles finished the game with a convincing 79-9 CSAA victory.

All seven Eagles got on the board with notable performances by junior Kierra Flegel and sophomore Lexie Bowers, who each scored a dozen points off the bench.

While much of the Eagles’ success the last four years can be attributed to the senior duo of Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison, it is a testament to the program and the girls, themselves, that it has never felt more “about them” than their level of play has dictated. They have made their mark in Kent City history with an incredible level of unassuming humility that lets their play do all the talking. Despite witnessing two players reach such incredible individual career milestones, fanfare (diminished this season with fan limitations) was mild and marked by small celebrations with family and friends following the game.

Even on a night that these girls could be forgiven for making it about their individual accolades, it is clear that there is a singular focus on the horizon and one that they all hope to celebrate together as a team.

The Eagles will have a few tests early next month as they take on league-rival Morley Stanwood and class A Muskegon in their march towards the postseason. The games will be an important challenge for a team that is likely to run through most of its schedule heading into district play and will need that demanding point of reference when they inevitably face the challenges of a deep tournament run this spring.

Zeeland East Exacts Revenge on Holland Christian

There is a long-standing cliche trotted out by coaches in locker rooms across the country and in just about all competitive sports.

“The only people that believe we can win are in this locker room.”

The phrase has taken a variety of forms over the years, but always comes back to the same theme: We are the only ones that believe we have a shot. While we can’t guarantee the message was relayed in pregame by first year head coach, Connor Hoke, the Zeeland East varsity girls basketball squad certainly embodied it.

The competitive drive of an athlete and their team allows a bit of irrationality to seep in on occasion, which doesn’t as easily inflict the casual or more objective spectator. However, that irrationality is what makes the games worth playing. Sports can and do often follow a predictable trajectory, but there are those shocking moments, Cinderellas and underdog stories that make us tune in again and again. Tuesday night’s showcase between the Zeeland East Chix and Holland Christian Maroons was such a contest and worth the price of admission.

The Chix welcomed Holland Christian after a short trip across town for a rematch of their matchup just a month earlier, when the Maroons steamrolled their way to a dominating 47-25 victory in Holland. The casual observer would be forgiven for suspecting a similar result would be the odds-on favorite outcome on Tuesday night.

However, the Chix have been gaining significant momentum lately with revenge wins in which the Chix turned the tables for a 12-point swing between games against Unity Christian and a whopping 20-point swing against their bitter rival, Zeeland West.

So it is understandable that East was brimming with confidence despite the odds being stacked in their opponents’ favor. It was apparent that the Chix believed Tuesday would not be a repeat of the prior matchup and were every bit as ready to stun the home crowd as they were to prove recent success has not been a fluke. If Holland Christian thought this game would look anything like their prior matchup, they were quickly dissuaded of the notion.

East opened on an absolute tear after the opening tipoff and jumped to a quick 9-0 lead before Holland Christian coach, Heather Swierenga, called a timeout to calm her team and get the Maroons back on track. The Chix weren’t done yet, though, and Junior forward Audrey Dreyer, a transfer this year from Kent City, dropped a three from the baseline corner to push the opening run to 12-0 and got “The Coop” chirping in the stands the rest of the night.

The Maroons managed to get on the board with a drive by junior guard Hannah Genzink, which jump-started a run of their own. Holland Christian closed out on an 8-0 spree that left the score 12-8 after the first quarter.

Holland Christian opened the second quarter with another driving bucket that extended their unanswered run and pulled them within just two points. That was as close as they would get on this particular blitz before another run by East, led by Dreyer hitting another three point shot, this time from the top of the key, and several blocked shots on the defensive end. The Chix also applied interior pressure on hard takes by juniors Natalie Jarzembowski & Joy VanDam and senior Kennedy Boone-Sauter as well as several threaded passes from junior guard Haley Diekevers. The run pushed things to 17-10 in favor of East.

Once again, Holland Christian proved they would not let the Chix run away with things and delivered a three point shot, followed by back to back steals by junior guard Sarah Snow, which gave the Maroons breakaway layups and tied things up with just under four minutes to play in the half.

The Maroons eventually took the lead at 21-18 with 1:46 left in the half when Hoke called timeout. The decision proved prescient, despite just being down three. A team that believes is a powerful thing and coach Hoke was unwilling to let momentum shift too far unanswered.

East wasted no time after the break and delivered a three point bomb off the finger tips of sophomore guard Maddie Schuur that tied things up at 21-all and ended the Maroons only lead of the night, which lasted just over 10-seconds. Dreyer delivered another block against the Maroon fast break a few plays later and the score held 21-21 at the half.

The second half proved East was still capable of stitching together big runs on the visiting Maroons, but while Holland Christian was able to make comeback attempts throughout the night, the considerable Chix leads continued to be too large a buffer to overcome.

The Chix stretched the score as far apart as 39-26 before their offense cooled and the Maroons were able to claw their way back, eventually bringing it to within three after a deep three point bucket by senior guard Hannah Luurtsema made the score 42-39 with 1:30 left in the game and forced Hoke to call timeout once again.

The Chix employed stall-ball the rest of the way after the break and forced the Maroons to foul. Boone-Sauter hit both ends of the one-and-one to push the score to 44-39. However, the five point margin was quickly cut back to three off a shot in the paint by Maroon senior center Taylor Stygstra. Fans had to be feeling anxious as Zeeland East’s Diekevers missed the front end of the one-and-one, but she was quickly redeemed after a huge offensive rebound by Jarzembowski was kicked the ball back to Diekevers for two points.

A shooting foul on the other end put Maroon senior center Faith Mulder at the line to split two free throws, which made the score 46-42 with just 24 seconds remaining in the contest. Diekevers missed the front end of another one-and-one, but Dreyer pulled down another Chix offensive rebound and kicked it to Boone-Sauter who was finally tracked down, fouled and went to the line for double bonus. If fans hoped they’d be able to breathe a sigh of relief, they’d have to wait another 16.4 seconds as both shots clanked off the iron and Holland Christian took possession down by only four.

While they certainly made fans stress at the end, the Chix were able to stifle the Maroon attack the remainder of the clock and held on for the stunning 46-42 upset. The victory marked a whopping 26-point turnaround from the teams’ first matchup one month prior and gave the Chix on the final home game of the season at The Coop.

Dreyer led the Chix with 12 points and may have also hit a triple-double (points, rebounds and blocks), though we have not yet been able to confirm. The Chix were also aided by 8 points from Jarzembowski and Boone-Sauter.

The Chix wrap up their regular season against Holland HS, who they comfortably beat last month 62-29. Holland Christian ends things at home against Hamilton HS after a previous meeting in which the Maroons secured a 50-27 victory. Both teams look prepared for district play early next month.