By, Nick Vlietstra
Snow Snow go away, you’re cancelling all of our games! Well that is what it seemed like last week,with a large majority of Tuesday’s games called off. There still were a few teams that played, andsome of those played even though they didn’t have school that day. Getting your team up to play a game on a day when they didn’t have school can be a very trying thing for a coach. When your team is not at the gym, a coach does not have much power over what the kids are doing, and on a snow day, in all likelihood they are sleeping and playing video games. Now yes, they may be resting and staying out of trouble, but they are also out of their usual routine. Then come game time, they won’t have the same jump they usually do. They are more than likely going to be a step slower that night. Some coaches will do a lot of things to fight against this, such as having a shoot around, going to breakfast or lunch as a team, or having a full out practice. The coach needs to dowhatever he can to make sure the kids stay a little closer to the routine they would have when they are actually awake, walking the hallways, and using their brains.
Lets take a look back and see how teams faired this past week.
Loy Norrix played one game this week and they made the most of it as they took down Kalamazoo Central over at University Arena. Bishop Robinson showed up big, in his last regular season game against the Giants getting 31 points and nine rebounds. I still can understand some frustration from the Central side who were playing their second game in as many days, while Loy Norrix hadn’t played in a week. Not only that, but both were big games as they ground out a 49-44 winover division rival Portage Central on Friday night. Still it’s a big win for the Knights who howhave a 9-3 record and still sit in a tie atop the East division with Battle Creek Central.
Stevensville Lakeshore was one team who did play twice last week and picked up two more wins to run their record to 11-0. They took care of Buchanan 48-32 in a non-conference game on Wednesday and then had to dig deep to beat Mattawan 34-30 on Friday. Any coach would love atime when their team allows only 62 points in two games. Kalamazoo Central and Niles are the two worst scoring defenses in the SMAC and both are allowing over 62 points a game, and it just took the Lancers two games to give that up. Lakeshore also has a two game lead for first place over St. Joe.
Stars of the week:
Jamaal Conger, Kalamazoo Central
Conger was held down to 13 points on Saturday night against Loy Norrix but perhaps he was just still a little winded from his monster game on Friday. In a division game against Portage Central, Conger dropped in 32 points to lead the Giants to a key win and also a season sweep over the Mustangs. His 32 points accounted for over 65% of the offense in the 49-44 win.
Dean Kolstad, Gull Lake
It has been a great Senior season for Gull Lake’s Dean Kolstad. He helped his Blue Devils avenge an earlier season loss to Lakeview on Friday night by scoring 27 points and ripping down 15 rebounds. Gull Lake has won three out of their last four and Kolstad continues to lead the way getting close to 19 ppg this season.
Josh Bass, Harper Creek
It has been a quiet season for Harper Creek but the highlight has been their football star who has been producing in a big way on the basketball court. Josh Bass had a big game on Friday night in leading the Beavers to a win over Coldwater. He poured in 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the contest. Already holding a scholarship to play D-1 football, Bass has been the key man in the middle this season now scoring over 20 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Gull Lake @ Marshall. One team is heating up and one is cooling down. Gull Lake has won three of their last four while Marshall has lost three of their last four. These two are tied along with Lakeview for third place in the SMAC East. Marshall beat Gull Lake in their earlier battle59-50.
Tuesday - Kalamazoo Central @ St. Joseph. St. Joe is all alone in second place and trying to prevent Lakeshore from completely running away with the division. These two are two of the topscoring teams in the conference, but defensively it isn’t close with St. Joe surrendering only 47 ppg and the Giants are giving up over 62. St. Joe won the first match-up 73-65 on opening night for both teams.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Creston @ Kalamazoo Central. It will be a three game week for K-Central and they end with a tough non-conference game with Creston. It will probably help that they will be facing a team who is also playing on back to back nights
The snow called off all but one Tuesday game and that included the most anticipated game of the week between division leaders Otsego and Dowagiac. I was very interested to see how that game would have gone, with Dowagiac destroying everything in their path right now, and Otsego winning, but not running over teams like Dowagiac has been. This was evident again on Friday when both teams were in action and playing the last place teams in the divisions. Dowagiac won easy over Coloma, 70-51, while Otsego had their hands full with Comstock and had to battle late to win 73-70. It was quite a turn of events for the Bulldogs who beat Comstock 84-46 at the start of theseason. It’s interesting right now to see the Otsego scores, because they are still winning, but just not like you would think a 9-1 team would be winning. Perhaps that helps them down the road when they will be in closer games.
One other game I had my eye on was Vicksburg and Paw Paw in a Friday rematch from a 53-50 Vicksburg win earlier this season. Both teams still have time to make something of their seasons, and do some damage in the second half. Paw Paw clearly had no problem winning 68-51 and doing that on the road. That evens their record at 5-5, and a big well done goes out to the Redskins free throw shooters. In this day and age where so many people talk about kids not knowing how to shoot free throws (which I think is very true) Paw Paw’s Christian Brian went 15-15 from the line while teammate Tanner Eubank went 8-9. 23-24 between two players! That will certainly help you win a game. On the other side, the story continues to be the same for Vicksburg who continues to struggle defensively. They had a good night on Tuesday, holding Three Rivers to 22, but then give up 68 in a key game with Paw Paw. They are now giving up over 61 ppg and have allowed opponents to score 68 or more in five games this season. It’s tough to win games, when giving up that many points, no matter how good your offense is.
Players of the week:
Dontel Highsmith, Dowagiac
He only played once this week so he couldn’t do that much damage right? Well not so fast. He still managed to score 30 points in that one game against Coloma who came in with the best defense in the Wolverine.
Bobby Brinkert, Comstock
A 20 point performance usually doesn’t make it into this category, but on Friday night Brinkert’s 20 point performance just about led the way to an upset of Otsego. Brinkert has been the bright spot in a gloomy season so far scoring over 13 ppg.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Edwardsburg @ Paw Paw. If you haven’t gotten out to see one of the top talents in southwest Michigan, this is a good time to go see Edwardsburg’s Josh Kozinski. The CMU bound Kozinski is a sharpshooter who is scoring over 21 ppg. He will go up against a Paw Paw team that is one of the top defensive teams in the Wolverine.
Friday – Otsego @ Allegan. Well, would you look at that. Allegan is in second place in the East division. They had only one win last year and they areat 5-5 this year. Their lone divisional loss was to Otsego 61-47 back on December 14. Otsego has had some close calls lately, and they are going into a gym that is tough to play in.
The KVA was a conference that had a lot of Tuesday action. In fact the majority of their teams played two games this past week. There really weren’t too many surprises. Schoolcraft went 2-0 again and now has a 10-2 record. The biggest surprise might have been that they played their closest conference game to date when they beat Kalamazoo Christian by 13 on Friday. On Tuesday Luke Ryskamp was held to only 12 points by Parchment but the Eagles still wonby 33.
Pennfield got a home win on Friday. Why is that a surprise? It was their first home win this season, but it wasn’t easy as they needed to come from behind to win 59-55 over Parchment. Pennfield has won three in a row and also got one of their key players back this week as Jake Grimes returned after being suspended for the first half of the season. There’s still plenty of work to do for a team who started the season at just 2-5.
Players of the Week:
Quinten Harris, Olivet
It is impossible to leave him out of this section. I had a question posed to me this week of whois the second best player in the KVA behind Ryskamp. I think that answer has to be Harris whoscored 38 points in two wins this week, which included a 19 point, 18 rebound performance against Constantine on Friday. Olivet has won three in a row and has moved up to second place in theKVA.
Justin Bontrager, Constantine
Bontrager has come on over the last month and has become the top scorer for the Falcons. He scored 13 points on Tuesday but came back with a 27 point performance against Olivet onFriday. He is averaging over 13 ppg on the season and has scored in double digits every game since Christmas.
This Week’s Big Games:
Tuesday – Schoolcraft @ Galesburg-Augusta. GA has won six straight and they put that on the line on Tuesday against Schoolcraft. It might be impressive if someone in the KVA can keep a game within 10 of the Eagles.
Friday – Pennfield @ Galesburg-Augusta. Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, GA andPennfield will lock up on Friday with both teams playing good basketball lately. The Rams won in Pennfield 55-49 on December 14.
Nobody in the SAC played on Tuesday. Friday did see one eye opener when Lawton beat Watervliet. Watervliet has been playing good ball, but believe it or not, Friday’s game was just their fourth game they have played since before Christmas. They have gone 2-2 in those games, and they still haven’t reached the midway point of their season. On Friday Lawton showed up big and knocked off the Panthers 60-49. It has been an up and down season for the Blue Devils, but they are on the up right now with a 6-5 record.
In the North Gobles earned a tough road win over Fennville 60-56 on Friday and have now won six in a row. Saugatuck also won on Friday and those two remain tied at the top of the North division. Meanwhile, Decatur is 6-0 and continues to lead the South. They now have a comfortable lead over Watervliet who sits at 3-2.
Players of the week:
Michael Winowiecki, Sauguatuck
Saugatuck’s leading scorer was at it again on Friday night as he poured in 27 points in a win on the road at Bloomindale. He was helped out by teammate Wes Webbert who scrored 17 and pulled down 10 rebounds. Winowiecki is the leading scorer in the SAC this season, getting closeto 20 ppg.
Tom Cevern, Decatur
Tom had a big night in leading Decatur to a 63-53 win over Lawrence. He was close to getting atriple double as he scored 22 points, pulled down nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. It has been a fine season for Tom, who is averaging 16.6 ppg and trails only his brother Tim for thescoring lead on the team.
Big Games This Week:
Tuesday – Watervliet @ Gobles. Gobles is 5-1, in first place in their division and they welcome Watervliet to town who is in second place in the south. Gobles’ good offense will face one of the top defenses in the conference.
Wednesday – Bangor @ Gobles. These two are in the same division, but have yet to face off yet this season, but they will when they play their make-up game on Wednesday. Bangor is 3-3 in the division and still has plenty in the tank to do damage in the second half.
Friday – Fennville @ Saugatuck. This is a rematch of a game that Saugatuck won in overtime 66-61 on the last game before Christmas break. It should prove to be another entertaining game on Friday night.