Portage Central for Real? Who is the top team in the Wolverine?
By, Nick Vlietstra
Is it safe to say yet that Portage Central is for real? It was another great week for the Mustangs who are off to a 4-1 start, and if they could have closed out Kalamazoo Central would be 5-0. Their most impressive win came Friday when they went down to St. Joseph and beat the undefeated Bears 47-42. They have done the job on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. They are averaging over 58 ppg which is good for third in the conference behind only Loy Norrix and Kalamazoo Central. Quae Furlow has been the main offensive threat scoring close to 20 ppg, but he has been helped by Rodney Turner who is scoring 13.8 ppg. On the other end they are surrendering 51 ppg, but that is still in the top half of the conference. They have allowed 47 points or less in every game except for that K-Central game when they gave up 89 in overtime. It still is early, and they have a long way to go, but being in second place at Christmas break is always a good thing, no matter who you are.
In the East division Marshall is off to a great start with a 4-1 record and went 2-0 in the past week with wins over rivals Albion and on the road at Coldwater. They are not scoring many points, getting just over 47 ppg, but it is the defensive side that has been their bright spot giving up just 41 ppg. They have not allowed over 50 points in any game this season. Robby Ranville has been the key offensive contributor scoring 20 ppg. Trevor Travis (10 ppg) and Tony Wimberly (9.5 ppg) have both pitched in plenty as well, as those three are accounting for 83% of the offense at this point.
A few cancellations made for an uneventful week for some teams. Loy Norris had their lone game postponed against Battle Creek Central, while Harper Creek had their game with Pennfield called off.
Stars of the week:
Quae Furlow, Portage Central
Furlow has been the main scoring threat this season and he had a great week over this past week. He averaged 16.5 ppg in two wins over Lakeview and St. Joe. He scored 21 against the Spartans and added 12 against the Bears.
Devin Alexander, Benton Harbor
Benton Harbor played only one game this past week but Alexander made the most of it. He put up 27 points in a home win against Jackson. Alexander has scored over 22 ppg this season, but unfortunately his team is off to a 1-4 start.
Josh Bass, Harper Creek
Harper Creek is only 2-3 but Bass has been the big spot at this point scoring over 21 ppg. He poured in 22 points in the Beavers lone game this past week, a 67-55 loss at St. Joe.
It has been a fun first three weeks to watch the Wolverine. There are clearly plenty of quality teams in the conference, and a lot of those teams got to lock up in early season battles. It is hard to say what team is the best at this point, but going into Christmas, if I had to say, I might still go with Otsego. They have played a very tough schedule which included games with Vicksburg, South Haven and Edwardsburg, and have survived to hold a 5-1 record. Vicksburg has had the toughest schedule so far with games against, arguably, the top three teams in the conference Otsego, Dowagiac and Edwardsburg to go along with games at Paw Paw and Plainwell. They have survived to go 3-3 with an upset win over Edwardsburg this past week.
In the West you still have Edwardsburg who is 5-1 with a win over Otsego. They have Josh Kozinski who is a D-1 athlete going to Central Michigan, and scoring 22 ppg. Dowagiac may have had the easiest schedule out of all the top teams so far, but it still included wins against South Haven and Vicksburg. They have gone undefeated and also have Dontel Highsmith who is leading the conference in scoring. The Chieftains have scored over 90 points twice this season and lead the conference in scoring at over 77 ppg.
As you can see it is hard to say who is really the top team in the conference, and it will be a fun conference to watch post-christmas.
Players of the week:
Abe Barwegen, Vicksburg
Barwegen had quite a week scoring the ball as Vicksburg went 1-1, getting an upset win over Edwardsburg and falling to Otsego. Against the Eddies the Senior went for 24 points and then poured in 28 as Vicksburg nearly pulled off the upset against Otsego. Barwegen is the leading scorer for the Bulldogs scoring 19 ppg.
Reid Dugan, Otsego
The elder of the two Dugan brothers is having a great Senior season and put together another great week leading the Bulldogs to wins over South Haven and Vicksburg. Dugan averaged 22.5 ppg in the two wins and is scoring 20.7 ppg this season. He has scored 20 or more points in five out of their six games this season.
It was a light week for the KVA. Kalamazoo Christian gained another good win by beating Parchment on Tuesday. It was not looking like a good schedule going into Christmas for the Comets with games against Schoolcraft, Pennfield, Olivet and Parchment, but they have responded to go 3-1. Nate Niewoonder and Brenden Heidema have been the top scorers this season. The two of them are providing over 50% of the offense this season. They have plenty of shooters as well, and that was seen on Tuesday when they hit 10 threes against Parchment. It is a different Kalamazoo Christian team from the old days. They very rarely press, there are three Sophomores on the Varsity, and on Tuesday they played zone defense the entire game. Still the execution on offense is still there. It is still a lot of the same set plays they have been running for years. They still show plenty of patience and will work for a good shot on most possessions.
The question mark teams in the conference so far have been Hackett and Parchment, as both were expected to have quality squads. Parchment is now 0-5, and Hackett is just 1-4. Hackett lost this past week to Constantine, and have also lost to a very down Delton team. Parchment has their issues, but have also lost to three teams who are at the top half of the conference. Their schedule after Christmas gets a lot more favorable. Both teams biggest issue is on the defensive end. Parchment is allowing over 62 ppg and Hackett sits last in the conference allowing 63 ppg.
Players of the Week:
Peyton White, Constantine
White is now a four year player on varsity for the Falcons and the Senior had a career high on Thursday against Hackett. He scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in their 60-57 win. White is scoring over 17 ppg this season playing in three out of his team’s five games. Since White rejoined the line-up the Falcons have gone 2-1.
Ted Rider, Hackett
Rider had his best game of the season on Wednesday, but it came in a loss to Constantine. The Senior scored 21 points. Rider leads the Irish in scoring at close to 12 ppg, and is one of three on the team scoring in double figures.
Three teams in the conference have been overly impressive so far. Decatur and Watervliet are both undefeated in the South and Saugatuck is 5-1 and undefeated in conference in the North. They have separated themselves as the top teams going into the break. Saugatuck pulled out two close road wins this past week, winning at Hartford 66-59 and at Fennville 66-61 in overtime.
Decatur beat Gobles 70-63 on Tuesday and had their Friday game postponed. They are the top scoring team in the conference at almost 70 ppg. The Ceveren brothers are doing all the damage combining for close to 40 ppg.
Watervliet beat Bloomingdale on Tuesday and was also postponed on Friday. They have not been scoring a ton of points, but they also have been one of the better defensive teams in the conference. They have allowed over 49 points just once and that was in overtime. It seems like football season all over again, as it is still Travis Bolin and Jake Cowsert leading the way on offense for the Panthers.
Players of the week:
Michael Winowiecki, Saugatuck
It was quite a week for Winowiecki in leading the Indians to wins over Hartford and Fennville. On Tuesday he dumped 39 points on Hartford and followed that up with 24 points against Fennville to average over 31 ppg for the week. He is scoring 22.3 ppg this season.
Tom and Tim Cerven, Decatur
The brother duo had another big game on Tuesday helping the Raiders to a 70-63 win over Gobles. Tom scored 25 point, dished out six assists and went 16-17 from the free throw line. Tim pitched in with a double-double scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. The two are accounting for over half of the points scored by Decatur.
St. Joe Valley/Cliamx-Scotts
Mendon and Climax Scotts continue their hot play. Climax Scotts improved to 5-0 this past week winning two games. They won at Bronson 61-36 and at Hillsdale Academy 62-46. Aaron Cook averaged 18 ppg in the two games this past week. The Panthers are scoring 60.2 ppg and giving up only 37.2 ppg.
Mendon played only one game this week but beat Marcellus Howardsville Christian 66-53 and they too are now 5-0. They are outscoring opponents by an average of 17 per game. Joe Gales continues to lead the Hornets scoring 16.2 ppg.