High School Sports Blog
Half Way Through!
By, Nick Vlietstra
We are half way through the season (or at least close to
it). Most teams have a good idea of what
they have at this point. Now the job of
these teams is to either keep it going or obviously turn it around. We also start to see teams going through their
conference schedules a second time which is sure to make for some good
rematches. Let’s take a look back at
what happened last week.
Another week and another good showing for Stevensville
Lakeshore, who picked up two key division wins over Niles and St. Joseph. Their 47-44 win St. Joe was big, as they beat
a division rival, one who is probably your closest divisional competitor at
this point, and doing it on the road.
Their defense continues to be their calling card as they held both
opponents this week to 47 points or less and continue to hold opposing teams to
less than 40 points per game. St. Joe
was one of the better offensive teams in the league and the argument can be
made that they are the best shooting team, but they were held to just 44 points
and hit only two three pointers in the game.
Locally, it was a good week for Kalamazoo Central who picked
up two division wins with both wins coming on the road. Central now sits right in the middle of the
West Division with a 4-3 record. They
still are scoring plenty of points, but they continue to allow a lot of points
as well. The Giants have given up less
than 60 just three times in nine games.
On the other side of town Loy Norrix hit a stumbling block
this past week falling on Tuesday to Lakeview in overtime. It was an interesting score to see, and
perhaps Lakeview is better than what people want to give them credit for. Still, if you are one of the top teams in the
division, beating Lakeview at home is a game you need to win. The Spartans did have a very good week
pulling off the upset of the Knights and then upsetting Marshall on the road on
Friday. They now sit behind only Loy
Norrix and Battle Creek Central in the East Division standings.
Portage Central survived their rivalry game with Portage
Northern, but needed plenty of help to get there. Like any rivalry game it got a little heated
and with Central down five with two minutes to go a technical foul to Northern
allowed Central the chance to cut the lead to one. Central went on to win the game in
overtime. The win moves the Mustangs’ back
into a tie for second place in the West along with St. Joseph.
Stars of the week:
Bishop Robinson, Loy Norrix
Another week and another Robsinson sighting here. He exploded for 30 points and 12 rebounds in
Tuesday’s overtime loss to Lakeview and then came back with 20 points and 10
rebounds against Gull Lake. Robinson
continues to lead the SMAC in scoring getting 24.9 ppg.
Jamaal Conger, Kalamazoo Central
As the season has gone along, Conger has solidified himself
as one of the best pure scorers in the SMAC.
He led the Maroon Giants to two wins this past week. On Tuesday he scored 25 points in their win
over Portage Northern and came back to score 24 in beating Niles. For the season the Senior is getting over 22
Donnie Ernsberger, Lakeview
Ernsberger led Lakeview to two upset wins on the road this
past week. First, against Loy Norrix he
scored 19 points and hit the game winning three in overtime, and then he came
back to score 16 and grab seven rebounds in a win over Marshall. He is the leading scorer for the suddenly hot
Spartans who sit in third place in the SMAC East.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Portage Central @ Battle Creek Lakeview. Lakeview is hot and coming off two upset wins
over Loy Norrix and Marshall last week.
They will face a crossover game with Portage Central who is now 7-3.
Friday - Kalamazoo Central @ Portage Central. This is a rematch of a game on December 7
that saw the Giants come from over 20 down in the fourth quarter to steal a win
in overtime. This game has plenty on the
line as K-Central sits one game behind the Mustangs in the standings.
Saturday – Loy Norrix vs. Kalamazoo Central (@ University
Arena). This big rivalry game is played
only once a year now. This one has a
chance to be another good game with two of the top players in the SMAC on the
court with Bishop Robinson for Loy Norrix and Jamaal Conger for K-Central.
A lot of big scorers did a lot of big things this week. We start in Dowagiac where on Friday night
Dontel Highsmith went off again this time striking for 49 points, 11 rebounds
and six assists against Berrien Springs.
It also came on the same night that Berrien Springs’ Jhon Williams
scored 33. Highsmith hit eight three pointers, which is a
disaster for opposing teams. He is a guy
that I always say you need to play like LeBron, and attempt to prevent him from
driving, and then pray he doesn’t hit his jump shots. When he is hitting his shots, you just need
to tip your cap and say it’s probably not our night. As a team the Chieftains put up 101 points
and hit an astonishing 19 three pointers.
It is the third time this season that Dowagiac has scored 90 or more
points. It does lead me to some question
marks. I understand that it is a fun
thing for kids to want to score over 100 points, and I can even understand
there could be an urge to get to that mark.
At the same time, why does a high school team need to pour it on, and
score over 25 points in a final quarter of a game that was already well in
hand? They did end up winning the game
Otsego needed a big second half to get past their rivals
from Plainwell. They won by 13 but they
trailed big early on, and still trailed at the half. Otsego is now 8-1 which is impressive, but
perhaps not as impressive as some would expect.
I don’t want to read too much into it, because scoreboard comparing does
no one much help, but it can be interesting to see how they allow some lesser
teams the ability to stick in the game.
Not blowing out bad teams by enough doesn’t always say that much, but
they could be playing dangerously if they do allow some teams to stick around
Players of the week:
Dontel Highsmith, Dowagiac
There was no keeping this guy out of the players of the week
this week following his 49 point performance on Friday against Berrien
Springs. That goes along with his 23
point performance against Plainwell on Tuesday.
Highsmith continues to lead the Wolverine in scoring now averaging 28
Jhon Williams, Berrien Springs
Berrien Springs may have gone 0-2 this week, but it wasn’t
because of Jhon Williams who averaged 29 ppg in the two games and did it
against two of the top teams in the conference.
He started the week scoring 25 points in a 12 point loss to Otsego, and
then came back to score 33 in a loss to Dowagiac. Williams is the Shamrocks’ leading scorer
getting over 17 ppg.
Brian Harris, South Haven
It was a big week for South Haven and their top scorer,
Brian Harris, showed up in a big way scoring 24 ppg in their two games. On Tuesday he scored 25 points in a win
against Vicksburg and then came back to score 23 points in a losing effort on
the road at Edwardsburg. Harris is now
scoring just a touch under 18 ppg for the Rams.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Dowagiac @ Otsego.
A possible championship matchup where there are two combined losses
between these two right now. It is also
a matchup of the top player in the conference in Dowagiac’s Dontel Highsmith
and the young up and coming talent of the Bulldogs.
Friday – Paw Paw @ Vicksburg. This is a rematch of a game early in the
season when Vicksburg won 53-50. Also a
matchup of teams who halfway through probably feel they could be better than
what they have been. A win here could
propel either of these teams to a good second half.
Another week and once again Schoolcraft flexed their
muscles. They have separated themselves
as the top team in the conference at this point, and after two wins this week
they are 8-0 in the conference. It
wasn’t a tremendously tough week as they faced two of the lesser teams in the
conference in Delton and Constantine.
They are demolishing everyone in their way in the conference this
year. Within the conference they are
scoring over 66 ppg and giving up only 38.
Their closest game within the KVA so far has been a 14 point difference.
The big rivalry game between Kalamazoo Christian and Hackett
proved to be an exciting one again with Christian pulling out a seven point
victory. Hackett had won their last two
including winning at Olivet on Tuesday, and Hackett has turned their home court
into one of the tougher places to play in the KVA. That still wasn’t enough as the Comets turned
back their longtime rivals. The Comets
don’t have nearly as much depth as they once had, but they are getting a lot
out of their top players. Nate
Niewoonder (13.5 ppg) and Brennan Heidema (13.6) are both leading the offense,
while their big man Dylan Gooch is becoming more and more productive as the
season goes on, now scoring close to 9 ppg.
Players of the Week:
Quinten Harris, Olivet
The top big man in the conference may have had his best week
of the season last week. He averaged 20
ppg and pulled down 19 rpg. Against
Hackett he scored 17 points and had 17 rebounds. He then topped that performance against their
rivals Maple Valley scoring 23 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. Harris is committed to play his college ball
at Michigan Tech.
Luke Ryskamp, Schoolcraft
The KVA’s top scorer was at it again this week averaging 25
ppg in two wins. The Grand Valley commit
started the week getting 27 points on the road at Delton and then scored 23
points at home against their rivals from Constantine. He continues to lead the KVA in scoring
getting 23.3 ppg.
This Week’s Big Games:
Tuesday – Kalamazoo Christian @ Galesburg-Augusta. GA is hot as they are 6-3 and winners of five
in a row. They tangle with K-Christian
for a chance to move up to second place in the conference.
Friday – Schoolcraft @ Kalamazoo Christian. Christian has given the Eagles one of their
closest games of the KVA season (that means they lost by 15). Still going into the Comets’ home gym is not
Decatur finally fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as they
fell 62-58 on the road at Fennville on Tuesday.
They still bounced back to win at Hartford on Friday. The Raiders were the last remaining
undefeated team in the SAC, but I still feel they will be fine going
forward. They have their big three scorers
in Tim and Tom Cevern and T.J. Stambek who are leading the top scoring offense
in the SAC getting over 64 ppg. They
also have one of the top defenses in the conference that is holding opponents
to just 49 ppg.
Gobles came up with a huge road win on Friday as they
knocked off Saugatuck. They were able to
avenge an overtime loss to the Indians they suffered early in the season. The two games were very different
though. On December 7 the final was
73-68, and Friday it went from a shootout to a defensive battle with the Tigers
winning 49-44. That ties up those two
teams atop the North division, while Fennville is still lurking just a game
behind those two.
Players of the week:
Tim Cerven, Decatur
Decatur suffered their first loss of the season this week,
but Tim Cerven was still scoring the ball at a very high rate. He averaged 22.5 ppg in the Raiders’ two
games this week scoring 21 points in a loss at Fennville and then getting 24
points against Hartford. He is one of
three for Decatur averaging double digits and he leads the way at 17.5 ppg.
Luke Traver, Hartford
Traver had a very nice week for the Indians averaging 21 ppg
as Hartford went 1-1. He began the week
scoring 26 points in leading his team to a win on the road at Bangor. He then came back to score 15 points in a
home loss to Decatur. Traver is the
leading scorer for Hartford getting 14.4 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Bangor @ Gobles.
Gobles is in a tie for first place and they face a Bangor team who is
looking to turn their season around.
Friday – Gobles @ Fennville.
It’s a tough week for Gobles as they will finish it off with a game with
Fennville who goes into the week one game behind the Tigers and Saugatuck. Gobles won the first matchup 50-46.
Another week and two more wins for both Climax Scotts and
Mendon. Mendon claimed two road wins
over Niles Brandywine and Athens. They
are now 9-1 and are outscoring opponents by close to 18 per game. Down the street Climax Scotts won two games
rather easily, beating Pittsford and Battle Creek St. Phil and improve to 10-0
on the season.
Player of the week:
Aaron Cook, Climax-Scotts
Another big week for Cook as he averaged 22 ppg and grabbed
8 rpg in two wins. Cook scored 20 point
and had eight rebounds against Pittsford and then came back to get 24 points
and eight rebounds against St. Phil.
Cook continues to be the top scorer for the undefeated Panthers at 19.5