The Week After Break
By, Nick Vlietstra
We are one week back into the normal schedule of school, practice and games. Once again there was some surprises, but in general this week went pretty much as you would predict. The week saw some of the top teams solidifying themselves as the top teams, and also saw one local star break a big milestone.
Loy Norrix had as tough a week as anyone and they handled it pretty well. Their week included two big divisional games with Sturgis and Marshall and then a Saturday game against Grand Rapids Christian. They did suffer a loss to Christian, but I think the Knights will take that if it means that they could win the other two games. They had another battle with Sturgis which went to overtime and the Knights pulled out the victory 64-58, and then pulled out a tight 58-56 win over Marshall. They are now 5-0 in the division in front of both Marshall (4-2) and Battle Creek Central (3-1).
Sturgis is an interesting team right now. They are certainly battling every night but they just can’t finish out their games. This week they went 0-2 but had their chances to go 2-0 falling in overtime and then falling to Harper Creek by three. They hold a 4-6 record, but have been outscored by only one point on the season. We knew they would be young, but with half a season left, it will be interesting to see how this team finishes out.
Lakeshore continues to lead the West division with a 7-0 record and 5-0 in the division. They beat Coloma and then took down Portage Central in a key division game. They showed their strong defense against both teams allowing just 33 and 34 points in the two games. They have the best defense in the SMAC allowing only 38.1 ppg. Their game against Portage Central was probably the epitome of who they are scoring only 48 points but surrendering only 34.
Stars of the week:
Bishop Robinson, Loy Norrix
Another great week for Robinson who also reached a big milestone in his career going over the 1,000 point mark for his career on Tuesday. On the court, he led the Knights to a 2-1 record in a very difficult week winning two key division games and falling to Grand Rapids Christian. Robinson averaged 21.7 ppg in the three games and registered double-doubles against both Sturgis and Marshall.
Chance Stewart, Sturgis
While he might be a football star, Stewart is showing he is pretty good on the hard court as well. This past week he averaged a double-double scoring 16.5 ppg and averaging 11 rpg. The highlight of the week was against Loy Norrix when he scored 20 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. On the season, Stewart is the second leading scorer for the Trojans getting over 15 ppg.
This Week’s Big Games
Tuesday - Mattawan @ Portage Central. Portage Central got off to the hot start but they have lost two of their last three. They are at home against a defensive minded Wildcats squad who is giving up only 48 ppg this season.
Friday – Portage Central @ Portage Northern. At this point the Mustangs are clearly the better team with a 5-3 record. The Huskies are only 1-9 with a win over Bronson, but this is still a rivalry game and Northern is at home, so Central better prepare to face a Huskies team that will be coming out to play their best game of the season.
Friday – Stevensville-Lakeshore @ St. Joseph. The first battle this season between what appears to be the top two teams in the West Division. St. Joe goes into the week one game behind the Lancers. The Bears are one of the top scoring teams in the SMAC, and one of the best shooting teams as well and they will clash with the SMAC’s best defensive team.
A few key division games took place on Friday with Paw Paw falling to Otsego and Dowagiac claiming a big home win over Edwardsburg. Otsego went into their game against Paw Paw only one game up in the standings and pulled out a ten point win. Paw Paw is only 3-4 now, but playing the Redskins in their home gym isn’t easy, and the Bulldogs did what they needed to do to get out of there with a win.
In the other big game, Dowagiac fell behind early and Edwardsburg had to be flying high when they held a 19-9 lead after one quarter. The Chieftains can score in bunches and they came back to win fairly easily 72-54. They continue to score a ton of points this season scoring an astonishing 76 ppg, and have scored under 70 points only twice, and one of those times they scored 69. Dontel Highsmith won the battle of the two D-1 prospects scoring 29 points while Josh Kozinski scored 20.
Players of the week:
Tyler White, Plainwell
White has been a monster this season for Plainwell and had his best week so far this past week. White averaged 18 ppg in two games. That included a huge game against Middleville Thornapple Kellogg when he scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. He is going to Illinois on a football scholarship, but while he’s still here and on the basketball court he is leading the Trojans in scoring and rebounding.
Gary Jones, Allegan
It was a nice week for Jones who averaged 22.5 ppg in two games. He scored 16 points against Mattawan and then came back to drop 29 in leading the Tigers to a big division win over Vicksburg. Allegan is now 3-4, but that is still a huge improvement on last year when they won only one game.
This Week’s Big Games:
Tuesday – Vicksburg @ South Haven. Vicksburg has now dropped to 3-4, but there is still plenty of talent to do damage. South Haven is 6-2, and currently just a half game out of first place in the West. Vicksburg’s biggest issue so far is on the defensive end where they are allowing over 63 ppg.
Friday – South Haven @ Edwardsburg. It’s a tough week for South Haven as they finish up the week on the road against the Eddies. Both teams go into the week a half game behind Dowagiac.
Friday – Otsego @ Plainwell. Otsego is the better team here. Still, it’s a rivalry game, so like the Portage rivalry, Otsego better prepare for Plainwell to show up and play a great game.
Schoolcraft looked like the top team in the conference this week as they handled two big games with ease. Their week started with beating Olivet 60-39 and then finished up handing Maple Valley a 71-36 loss. The Eagles are now 6-0 and in good control of the top spot in the conference. The closest team to them is Kalamazoo Christian who has a 5-2 record.
It was a fun start to the season watching Maple Valley come out of nowhere and start 6-0, but that came to a crashing halt this week. They fell to Galesburg-Augusta in triple overtime, and then got pounded by Schoolcraft. How they bounce back from these two losses will determine what this team really will be.
The aforementioned Kalamazoo Christian had a positive week going 2-0 with wins over Delton and Constantine. They are an interesting team right now that shoots a lot of three pointers and whether or not they go in determines how well they do. They have had certain games this season where they have shot the lights out such as their early season game against Parchment when they made 10 three pointers. They also have other games where they make maybe one or two. As in all sports, it always comes back to your consistency right?
Players of the Week:
Quinten Harris, Olivet
Harris has been the KVA’s top big man this season and he continued that mark this past week averaging a double-double in two games scoring 18 ppg and grabbing 12 rpg. The Eagles went 1-1, but in their win over Pennfield Harris scored 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
Jack Binegar, Parchment
The season hasn’t gone like expected for Parchment so far but they got a vision of what could be on Friday night from their big man Binegar. The 6’8” Binegar finished the game against Hackett with 12 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks.
This Week’s Big Games:
Friday – Kalamazoo Christian @ Hackett. Kalamazoo Christian goes into the week in second place in the conference, and they should be ready for a battle on Friday. Hackett’s season hasn’t gone as well as expected, but they did get a win over Parchment on Friday and can now look to getting this thing turned around.
Friday – Constantine @ Schoolcraft. It may not be the same as the battles they have on the football field, but these two teams still play their hearts out when they get together. Schoolcraft is the much better team and they have had very little problem in conference this season going 6-0 and beating teams by an average of 26.8 ppg.
It was somewhat of a light week with very few games being played on Tuesday. They did have a full schedule on Friday and that included a good battle between the top two teams in the South, Watervliet and Decatur. The Raiders were able to prevail 51-37 and are now 9-0 on the season and in doing so they have separated themselves as the top team in the South right now. They were also one of only a few teams who played two games on the week as they also added a 56-37 win over Lawton on Tuesday.
In the North, Saugatuck continued their march through the division getting a key road win over Bangor. They are now 4-0 in the division and one game up on Gobles for the division lead. Speaking of Gobles, they were able to claim another big win over Bloomingdale 51-48, and have now won four in a row.
Players of the week:
Michael Winowiecki, Saugatuck
Winowiecki poured in 25 points for the Indians as they beat Bangor 60-41. He has been the leading scorer this season for Saugatuck who is undefeated in the division and has now won six in a row.
Quin Rice, Marcellus
Rice had a big night in a losing effort against Lawton on Friday. He scored 24 points for the Wildcats. Rice leads Marcellus in scoring this season getting over 14 ppg.
This Week’s Big Games:
Tuesday – Decatur @ Fennville. Decatur is the top team in the SAC, undefeated at 9-0, but facing a test on the road at Fennville on Tuesday. Fennville is 4-3 and capable of giving the Raiders a competitive game.
Friday – Gobles @ Saugatuck. A battle for first place will be on tap at Saugatuck. Gobles has lost only one division game so far and that came to the Indians in a tight 73-68 game early in the season. Gobles has won four in a row while Saugatuck has won six straight dating back to their loss on their opening night of the season.
St. Joe Valley/Cliamx-Scotts
The biggest match-up of the week saw White Pigeon go on the road to Mendon and the Hornets got the better of them again winning 65-52. Mendon was able to improve to 7-1 on the season with their only loss being over Christmas break in overtime to Eau Claire. Scoring the ball has been a bright spot for the Hornets who are getting close to 69 ppg.
Down the road, Climax-Scotts continues to roll along claiming two victories this past week. The Panthers are now 8-0 and are outscoring opponents by close to 25 ppg. They have been great on offense but even better on defense as they are holding opponents to just 36.4 ppg.
Players of the week:
Robbie Gibson/Matt Crowl, White Pigeon
This duo has done a lot of damage this season and they kept it up this week. Gibson had a two game total of 30 points and 14 rebounds while Crowl checked in with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Gibson continues to lead White Pigeon this season getting 17.7 ppg.