Davenport University hosted Olivet College women’s basketball team on Saturday and while much of the state was tuned to the showdown between the University of Michigan and Ohio State, the Panthers did not disappoint fans in attendance.
Things started slow for both teams in the first few minutes before Davenport settled in and applied full court pressure to the Comets. The Panther’s quickness was too much to handle in the early going and forced several turnovers and generated easy offense to get things started.
Davenport ended the quarter up 22-10 and they did not look back the rest of the way. Olivet got things going on their end in the second quarter, but were still outscored in the quarter 19-13 and entered halftime down big: 41-23.
If the Comets had hopes of bridging the gap in the second half, Davenport had other things in mind. The Panthers came out of the halftime break on an offensive and defensive tear that gave them a 25 point quarter and snuffed Olivet’s comeback hopes by holding them to just 9 points in the third.
The fourth quarter brought much of the same with the Panthers outscoring the Comets 23-14. Freshman guard Madison Jones was a dominant force off the bench on both ends of the court and was credited with 22 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, that each seemed to under-attribute what she was able to accomplish.
Davenport improved to 4-3 on the season following their fourth straight victory and Olivet dropped to 1-5.
Scoring: DU – Madison Jones (22) Amiyah VanderGeld (14) OC – Fayth Talbert (11) Amari Brown (10) Rebounding: DU – Taylor Opolka (9) Courtney McInerney (8) OC – Amari Brown (9) DeeDee Post (9) Assists: DU – Madison Jones (5) Emily Lange (4) OC – Brianna Alexander (2) Hannah Brown (2)
Opening their season against cross-state powerhouse, Michigan State, the Eagles found themselves on the nail side of that equation. MSU controlled the game in all but the first period and managed to kick off a huge 13-0 run leading into the half. EMU was eventually handed a 35-point loss: 85-50.
Fast forward three days later and the Eagles were once again taking the hardwood, this time against Division III Olivet College in the friendly confines of the Convocation Center of Ypsilanti, MI.
We made the trip to the east side of the state to cover two local freshman, Hannah Brown (White Cloud ’19) and Zara Webber (Kent City ’19) kicking off their college careers together for the Comets.
The game tipped off to the screams of 2,500 area school children as part of EMU’s Education Day promotion, which gave local kids a day of college basketball, t-shirt canons, spirited cheering and Jumbotron dance-offs. The gym was electric with youthful exubrance well before tipoff and continued for much of the afternoon. The noise factor was often more reminiscent of a post-season matchup in the NCAA tournament, than an early Friday afternoon contest in November, but made for an incredible atmosphere for all in attendance.
Eastern Michigan quickly looked prepared to dominate the game through its size, where they maintained a clear advantage from wings to paint, as the teams tipped off. EMU Junior center Autumn Hudson dominated the glass early with several offensive rebound-put backs, which set the tone for the Eagles and gave them a 4-0 lead.
Olivet was prepared to make things a battle early, however, and OC freshman guard, Hannah Brown, knocked down a pair of back-to-back three point buckets that dropped straight to the bottom of the net. The second bucket gave Olivet its first and only lead of the contest at 6-4. That early showing would not last however and the Eagles closed the first quarter over the Comets with a score of 23-8.
The Comets would get it as close as 12 with 9-minutes to go in the second period, but EMU created additional space between the squads on the scoreboard by shrinking the court through their size and speed by bringing added pressure on a 3/4 court press, which helped them close the half with a 26 point lead.
The combination of size and strength in the paint and on the wings proved to be too much again after the break. The Eagles got things going right away as the relentless EMU defensive pressure began to wear down the Comets and the ladies from Olivet would only manage to score 6 points to the Eagles’ 27 in the third period.
The fourth quarter would be much of the same for both squads. The Comets mounted a fourth quarter effort that got them into double digits for the period, but were simply unable to get momentum going on either side of the court, as had been the case all afternoon. EMU’s continuous flood of size and strength off the bench kept the Eagles fresh and ready to put Tuesday behind them.
The waves of substitutions gave the Eagles a well-rounded offensive and defensive attack that led all eleven players to score during the contest and five to do so in double digits.
Some night’s you’re the hammer and others you are the nail. It definitely felt better this Friday for the Eagles to play the role of the former. Both teams will be matching up against foes from Ohio with the Eagles facing off on the road against Youngstown State and the Comets hoping to regroup in their first non-exhibition competition and home opener against Defiance College.
Rebounding: EMU – Autumn Hudson (12) Courtnie Lewis (9) OC – Fayth Talbert (5) DeeDee Post (4) Scoring: EMU – Courtnie Lewis (15) Kiara Johnson (13) OC – Hannah Brown (9) Amari Brown (6) Assists: EMU – Jenna Annecchiarico (6) Corrione Cardwell (6) OC – Tammy Lee (4) Amari Brown (3)
The senior shooting guard superstar from Kent City has just moved into Olivet College to begin her Division III athletic career with other local incoming freshmen, and the future is bright.
Kent City’s girls varsity basketball team has had a lot of success the past few years, and a big part of that success traces back to Weber. She has been a weapon from behind the three point line, and looks to help the Comets immensely in that aspect. Zara set the Kent City school record for threes in a single game (10), and in a season (87). She has also been consistently named all-conference, and BCAM honorable mention throughout the state. She was a participant in the Top Shooter contest, with fellow teammate Jenna Harrison, that took place at halftime during a state finals game at Calvin College this past year.
“Olivet felt like home right away.”
The summer heading into her senior year of high school, Zara figured out playing college basketball was what she wanted to do. The coaches started calling, and the summer tournaments became about recruiting as well as improving for her last season. GRCC and Albion were in her final roundup of college choices, but Olivet won her over.
“Olivet felt like home right away,” Weber commented about her choice. “I really loved the small town feel, and all of the people I met on my visit.” She fell in love with the Cutler Center gym she’ll be playing in soon, as well.
Head coach, Britney Berry, played a large role in Weber’s decision. Berry, who was an assistant coach at the time, got to know Zara early on, and made a favorable impression. “She’s so cool and I loved her from the start,” Weber added. “She was easy to talk to and laid back, but could take practices and games seriously, too.” Berry accepted the head coach position a few months later, and the rest is history.
The Comets are adding quite a few girls onto the roster this year, with six incoming freshmen. Hannah Putnam (Central Montcalm), and Hannah Brown (White Cloud), are a few locals that will be joining Weber on the court this upcoming season. The first game is November 2nd in Sylvania, Ohio at Lourdes University. Until then, the girls will be adjusting to campus and classes, and starting practices before too long. Weber will be studying Risk Management in Insurance at Olivet, as classes start August 19th.
“If you know you want to play college basketball, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to contact coaches,” Zara said towards other high school students dreaming of being a collegiate ball player. “Don’t let success or failure get to your head, and just play the game,” she added.
Weber plans on becoming a more aggressive and confident player in college, and knows Olivet is the place to help her achieve that and much more. Her high school achievements and experiences are memories that will last a lifetime, but she is not satisfied yet.