By Mark Blentlinger
For the third time this season, the Eagles boys’ basketball team met with the Irish from Hackett. The game was to determine which team would continue to the Breslin Center and the MHSAA championship – and which would start getting ready for baseball season. The intensity of both of these teams was high as expected for a winner-take-all game.
The end of the first quarter saw the Eagles on top by six, 19-13. The second quarter saw the Eagles continuing to apply the pressure. Senior Brady Flynn, was on a mission, putting up four shots from the outside of the arc, three of them successful, adding nine points. The Eagles hit the half-time break still leading the Irish by 11, 35-24. Fifteen seconds into the third quarter, Chris Cooper drew a foul and put down two shots from the line. They say it’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season, but three times could be almost impossible. The Hackett players were doing everything they could to compete for the three-peat. The Eagles on the other hand, were not going to make it easy on them.
Quarter four, the final eight minutes of one team’s season. Small mistakes by both teams seemed to make the quarter last forever. The Irish appeared to be on the upside of some calls that sent them to the line, time after time. With four minutes left in the game, the Irish were creeping back up, slowly, making it a 4-point game, 59-55, with Eagles still leading.
In the final 52 seconds, a Hackett foul sent Kobe Clark to the line for a shot, but it went unanswered. Hackett responded and the score stood at 59-58 Eagles with 1.3 seconds left. Hackett was at the line. Their shots were in and out. With .29 seconds left the Irish fouled Brice Walther. Back at the foul line, he split the two shots, 60-58 Eagles. The Irish took possession with a last-ditch effort at .03 seconds to go for two points, a tie and force overtime. The inbound pass was deflected by Chris Cooper as the buzzer sounded.
Eagles advanced on to their third consecutive District championship, scheduled to play Bloomingdale March 1 at Gobles High school. Schoolcraft moves on to 18-4 for the season. Leading scorers for the Eagles were Brady Flynn 11, Bryce VanderWiere 10, Brice Walther 9, Trevor DeGroote 9, Ty Rykse 8, Kobe Clark 7, Chris Cooper 6.
The setup for the Schoolcraft-Hackett game was another nailbiter ending in a win against Kalamazoo Christian at Gobles. There were four lead changes in the first quarter alone. By halftime, it looked like the game could go either way. Kalamazoo Christian brought the score to a tie at 24-all late into the 3rd quarter, and soon took a 1-point lead after Aaron DeJong hit a 3 pointer. Ty Rykse scored on the very next possession and the Eagles never let the Comets back on top for the rest of the game and took the win, 36-33, to end the Comet’s season.
In that game, top-scoring Eagles were Bryce VanderWiere with 13. Chris Cooper and Bryce Walther with with six, Rykse with four; Brady Flynn with two and Kobe Clark with one.