A year removed from magical runs that saw the Rockford Rams lose in the state semifinal and West Catholic Falcons fall in the state championship, both squads will be returning to the friendly confines of Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
Rockford returns the bulk of their 2022 campaign’s roster, while West Catholic has made their run without the help of current MSU guard and 2022 Miss Basketball candidate, Abbey Kimball. Despite the huge loss, 2023 Senior guard Cadence Dykstra has stepped into the leadership role and several others have taken hold of bigger opportunities with a year of experience behind them.
Both squads have rolled this post-season with West Catholic only experiencing one scare in overtime against Grand Rapids Christian. West Michigan has a real chance at securing multiple titles this week on the girl’s side and will be riding high hopes when the boys head to Breslin next week.
In a thrilling regional championship game between the West Catholic Falcons and Grand Rapids Christian Eagles, it was the Falcons who emerged victorious in an overtime battle, winning 53-45.
The game was a closely contested affair throughout, with both teams displaying excellent defensive skills and offensive prowess. The Falcons controlled the game most of the evening and held a double digit lead late in the game, but the Eagles mounted a sterling comeback and tied the game at 42 with a final shot in regulation that would have given GRC the victory, but was off the mark.
In the extra period, the Falcons managed to pull away from the Eagles, outscoring them 11-3 to secure the victory. The Falcons’ defense was particularly impressive in overtime, as they held the Eagles to just one basket and two free throws.
The win was a huge accomplishment for the West Catholic Falcons, who will now move on to the state quarterfinals following the 53-45 win. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles, who fought hard throughout the game but were unable to come away with the major upset.
Overall, the game was a thrilling showcase of high school basketball, with both teams displaying excellent skills and sportsmanship. The West Catholic Falcons will now look to build on their momentum and continue their run in the state tournament, while the Grand Rapids Christian Eagles will have to regroup and prepare for next season and find a new identity as several seniors graduate.
The talents of west Michigan girls basketball were on full display Tuesday night. Kent City traveled an hour south to face Schoolcraft in the quarterfinal for a second year in a row, Rockford welcomed East Lansing just down the road at Calvin University and West Catholic faced undefeated Edwardsburg in Wayland.
A year after Kent City (25-0) routed Schoolcraft (finished season 23-2), the teams battled it out through four quarters of defensive brilliance. Schoolcraft managed to slow Kent City star, Lexie Bowers, and held her to just six points. However, sisters Emma and Maddie Geers played sister-sister and led the Eagles on the offensive end to the 34-33 victory. The Eagles will head to Breslin for the second time in school history in as many years. They will face Madison Heights Bishop Foley (20-3).
While it took the Kent City faithful four quarters to find out if their Eagles would advance, West Catholic (24-1) had their answer much earlier in the night. Undefeated Edwardsburg (finished season 24-1) was outmatched from the jump and never got their bearings. The Falcons ran away with things in the first half and did the unthinkable by forcing a running clock in the second half during the state quarterfinal. West Catholic advanced with the stunning 82-27 final. The Falcons are playing with a fire brought on by a heartbreaking exit last year, partially due to Covid protocols and will have something to prove against Detroit Country Day this Thursday.
The final showcase of west Michigan girls basketball talent was the Rockford Rams (23-2) and East Lansing Trojans (finished season 19-5). Both teams are stacked with stellar guards able to handle and shoot the ball with efficiency. East Lansing also had the unique aspect of a post presence in senior center, Ella Miller. Both teams played a hard-fought first half with Rockford freshman Anna Wypych giving a standout shooting performance on the way to a 23-21 lead at the break. East Lansing’s offensive efficiency waned in the third quarter after coming out hot in their first few possessions and fell behind double digits. The Trojans made several runs, but couldn’t sustain them long enough to overcome the Rams’ hot shooting touches. The Rams advanced to the state final with the 54-43 victory.
All three west Michigan programs advance, proving once again that west Michigan hosts some of the best girls basketball in the state and deserves more recognition in the state-wide hoops landscape.