Tag Archives: High School 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.
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.
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.
Zeeland East Sends Seniors Out with a Win Over Muskegon
Friday night was humming in Zeeland as the Big Reds of Muskegon came to town to face off with the Zeeland East Chix women’s basketball team on Senior Night.
Senior night festivities had no sooner ended than the Chix found themselves in a deficit and serious foul trouble with senior forwards Shelby Ulven and Audrey Dreyer both exiting early in the first quarter.
The Chix tallied more fouls than points in the first quarter and found themselves down 10-5. Zeeland East found their rhythm in the second quarter with juniors Maddie Schuur and Paige Westra helping lead the way offensively. On the defensive end, Zeeland East held Muskegon to just two points the rest of the half while posting eighteen themselves. The teams entered the half with a score of 23-12 and all momentum firmly behind the Chix.
Schuur went on to have another big half after the break, posting another twelve and ending the night with a game high 19 points. Muskegon made a last ditch attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter but came up short 49-39. The Big Reds were led by senior Kailyn Nash who finished with 14 points and aided by Layla Harris with 12 points. Zeeland East spread the workload around and eight Chix netted points on the night and finished the season with the win over the Big Reds.
The Chix kept the momentum going after Friday night’s victory and won their first game of districts over Holland High School. Muskegon will wait for their opening game of the post season on Wednesday after a first round bye as they face the winner of Grand Rapids Union & Kenowa Hills.
Morley Stanwood Boys Win on the Road in Kent City
The Morley Stanwood Mohawks and Kent City Eagles put on a great performance in “The Nest” at Kent City High School on Wednesday night.
The Mohawks looked prepped to put a stamp on things with a full quarter to go, but some costly turnovers and some desperation play on Kent City’s end made things interesting until the final buzzer sounded. Despite pulling within two scores several times in the final minutes, the Eagles could not get over the hump and Mohawks took the CSAA road victory back with them on the 35 mile trip north to Morley Stanwood.
Morley Stanwood improves to 6-3 (5-0) while Kent City 5-4 (4-2) hopes to get things back on track this Friday on the road against Holton High School. The Mohawks were led by Ryland Nelson with 24 points and 14 from Carter Veldkamp. Kent City received high scores from Kyler Larson with 20 points and Casen Armstrong with 16 points.
Kent City Girls Withstand Mohawk Surge to Remain Unbeaten
The #2 ranked Division 3 Kent City varsity girls basketball team got their first test of the season last night when fellow CSAA conference power, Morley Stanwood, came to town.
While Kent City has run through the competition so far this season, their schedule gets intentionally harder in the coming weeks with contests against Morley Stanwood, East Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Cedar Springs. Morley Stanwood, for their part, hoped to establish themselves atop the CSAA standings with an upset on the road and managed to pull ahead twice in the third quarter on a free throw by junior guard Maddie Garbow and jumper from senior forward Brooke Brauher.
The two teams battled within a possession or two for the duration of the game. However, Kent City’s blistering pace began to take its toll on the Mohawks going into the fourth quarter and Kent City caught fire at just the right time with senior guard Jenna Harrison, who had been uncharacteristically cold from the floor most of the game, knocking down several triples towards the conclusion of the second half.
Kent City stretched the lead to a final score of 43-32 for the double digit victory that was much closer than the scoreboard would suggest. Harrison led the Eagles with 15 points and was helped by senior guard Kenzie Bowers with 12 points. The Mohawks were led by Brooke Brauher’s double-double of 11 points & 10 rebounds and Braelynn Berry’s 10 points & 9 rebounds. The #2 Eagles improve to 11-0 (6-0). The Mohawks drop to 7-3 (5-1).
Potter’s House Keeps Rolling Against Lakeview
The undefeated Potter’s House Pumas invited the visiting Lakeview Wildcats to “The House” on Tuesday night for a non-conference JV-Varsity girls basketball double header.
The first matchup of the night had all the drama and action one could want from a junior varsity contest.
The Pumas got the jump on the Wildcats and roared out to a 13-3 first quarter with six different Pumas getting on the board. The game looked firmly in hand when Lakeview shook things up in the second quarter.
Where the Pumas looked unbeatable in the first, Lakeview looked equally so in the second and the tables flipped with Lakeview out scoring the Pumas 7-3 for the quarter to bring the game to a respectable 16-10 halftime score.
Lakeview came out of the half with another strong quarter and again chipped into the formidable lead Potter’s House had built in the early going. Defensive pressure from the Wildcats led to a series of fast breaks and good looks in the paint. The teams entered the fourth quarter with a score of 21-17, but with momentum swinging in favor of the Wildcats.
Lakeview made things interesting halfway through the quarter when things got as close as 23-20 and the Wildcats looked ready to be pulling ahead when Potter’s House sophomore guard Abby Cox delivered an absolute dagger from way back and celebrated by jumping into the air as if the proverbial weight had literally been lifted off her shoulders. The Pumas rode that energy the rest of the way and finished the game on an unanswered run.
The Pumas were led by freshman guard, Erika Starks, who scored in every quarter and ended the night with 11 points. Lakeview was led by sophomores Olivia Davidson and Kaylie Wilcox, who netted 6 & 5 points, respectively.
Next came the varsity matchup.
The Pumas have been rolling this season, thanks in large part to a deep squad with loads of varsity experience finally making the turn towards being upperclassman heavy. Perhaps most surprising is not that they’ve been winning, but how they have been winning.
Potter’s House has always relied on a defense-first approach that has held teams to uncharacteristically low scoring outings. While that is still the end goal and result, the Pumas have also proved adept at getting the ball inside the iron this winter with a 30-point average margin of victory and a consistent 54 points per game.
That mark is far higher than recent memory and the consistency of the Puma attack can be traced back to the tireless work of veteran coach, Jake Hoogstrate, who has brought the girls program into Alliance League prominence with year on year improvement and a long list of capable scorers in 2021. Even when segments of the roster go cold, there are ample scorers available to take the reins for the night.
Tuesday night showed yet again that this Potter’s House squad is the real deal.
The game opened with Potter’s House ready to establish their dominance early, applying pressure to ball handlers and getting down the court on their way to several fast break buckets. When they were unable to connect on the layup they drew the foul and ended up at the charity stripe.
While the Pumas got out to a fast start and a 10-2 first quarter lead, the home team only got hotter, scoring 15 in the second and 18 in the third. With a sizable 25-10 halftime lead, the Pumas entered the break with things firmly in their control.
The second half continued down the same path behind an even bigger third quarter blitz giving them a 43-16 third quarter score and Potter’s House closed out the game 55-23. The game was every bit a team win and the Puma bench played a major role in the victory.
The Pumas were led by senior center Gift Omakpo with 12 points. The Pumas also got contributions from the bench with sophomores Joy McClendon and Emonne Craig finishing with 10 & 8 points, respectively. Lakeview got the bulk of their scoring from junior Courtney Grant who finished with 11 points.
Potter’s House sits at 5-0 after the win Tuesday night. They will be in action again on the road this Friday against conference rival Tri-Unity Christian.
Brauher Tops 1000 in Convincing Mohawk Victory
One word describes Morley Stanwood’s performance against the Evart Wildcats on Monday night: Efficiency.
Things looked evenly match in the early minutes, if one didn’t look up at the scoreboard, but the constant pressure from the Morley Stanwood defense, unrelenting ball movement & a diverse palate of scorers on offense had the Mohawks in charge of a substantial lead early in the game. The sneaky efficiency of their offensive and defensive attack made the gargantuan lead even more shocking when a narrow lead stretched incredibly in just a few short minutes. They never looked back.
The Mohawks took control early in the second quarter behind Brauher and junior Madison Garbow, who delivered points in waves for the home team. Brauher continuously cut through the Evart defense like a hot knife through butter in a way that managed to be equal parts grace & power and finished under or around defenders with her long reach on several finger roll buckets.
It didn’t take long for the Morley Stanwood senior standout to eclipse 1000 career points on Monday night. Despite a delayed start and abbreviated season, the Trine University commit passed the milestone just five and a half games into her final season for the Mohawks on an “and one” just before halftime.
The fateful bucket came in the waning moments of the first half when Brauher drove the right side of the lane, finished an aggressive layup and drew the foul as the ball dropped through the iron. She hit the free throw, giving her 13 at that point in the night and number 1001 for her career. The Mohawk faithful presented her a ceremonial basketball to commemorate the moment and broke into locker rooms for halftime.
Coming out after the half with a 32-8 lead, Morley Stanwood seemed determined to get their deep bench some varsity experience. Evart, for their part, seemed determined to make that varsity experience a baptism by fire.
Despite trailing big, the Wildcats began applying renewed energy in their half court defense and even went to full court pressure in an attempt to boost possessions in the third and fourth quarters. The strategy worked as much as it could and Evart forced a series of turnovers that led to fast break points at the other end. The Mohawk lead got trimmed to just under 20 with four minutes remaining before some strategic subbing helped get some experience on the court to pair with the next generation of Mohawks.
The Mohawks finished the game over Evart with a score of 49-31. Morley Stanwood was led by Brauher and Garbow with 17 & 11 points, respectively. Evart was led by Baumgardner with 15 points.
All in all, the conclusion was never in doubt and the Mohawks showed they will be a formidable squad in the CSAA runnings and beyond this year. They will face a challenging test with Big Rapids coming to town this Wednesday in what is sure to be an exiting night of basketball.
Holton Boys Defeat Kent City in CSAA Defensive Showdown
Friday night was a hotly contested battle between the visiting Red Devils of Holton High School and the hosting Eagles of Kent City. While the teams split contests last year, with the Eagles walloping the Red Devils in the first matchup and losing a closer contest a month later, both teams have largely retooled in the past year.
The Eagles graduated several key seniors in 2020, including leading scorer and current Grace University Tiger, Eli Carlson. Holton, for their part, brought a deep class of juniors and a new cast of underclassmen to pair with seniors Aidan Poling and Joseph McLean.
While both teams showed elements of inexperience with younger rosters than in some years past, the defensive grit showed by both teams was evident from the jump (figuratively in 2021). Despite early pressure defense from the Eagles, the Red Devils were able to capitalize on elongated ball movement against the zone pressure applied by Kent City and found open shooters for triples.
The Eagles soon found their footing and answered on a run of their own behind the shooting of senior Casen Armstrong and junior Hayden Carlson, which managed to see them holding a narrow 9-8 lead after the first quarter. Holton began to figure things out again offensively and pushed their way to a halftime score of 18-14 over the home team.
Both teams came out of the halftime break with a plan to put points on the board and wear down each other’s extensive defensive pressure. Despite each team pouring in more points in the second half, the Eagles proved unable to narrow the halftime deficit and closed the game with a 4-point 42-38 loss in CSAA play. The Eagles were led by 20 points from Hayden Carlson and 11 points from sophomore Kyler Larson.