By Travis Smola
There were real concerns that a basketball season was not going to happen in 2021. At the last minute, the MHSAA allowed an abbreviated season to proceed in mid-February.
The Bulldogs had a rough start. They won their opening contest against Dowagiac in a low scoring affair, 20-17, before dropping their next two contests to Plainwell and Otsego. After that, the Bulldogs went on a six-game winning streak, beating Paw Paw and Sturgis twice, plus rival Three Rivers and Allegan. The second game against Paw Paw was the comeback of the year.
Vicksburg trailed the Red Wolves by 10 after three periods. Vicksburg came out on fire in the fourth, outscoring Paw Paw 23-8 to come away with a 52-47 win.
The streak finally came to an end against perennially tough Edwardsburg. Head Coach Tim Kirby called that first Edwardsburg game the toughest game of the year. The team dropped their next three games after that, including a rematch with Three Rivers and a second showdown with the Eddies. The second contest was much closer with a 45-41 final score. The Bulldogs had a 16-point rally near the end to stay in the contest.
The final win of the season came against the Niles Vikings in a decisive 58-31 matchup. Against Niles, Hannah Vallier scored 37 points and broke the Bulldogs’ career scoring record. Vallier was almost always the leading scorer for the team this year with several impressive showings. She had 23 against Allegan, 25 against Three Rivers, and 20 points against Paw Paw.
Danielle Diekman and Chloe Hatridge were also consistent high scorers for the Bulldogs all season. Diekman had 18 points against Paw Paw, 16 against Three Rivers and 11 against Sturgis. Hartridge had 17 against Paw Paw, and 10 against Sturgis. Kayla Mottl, Sophia Blankenship, and Brady Brown also had key contributions in several wins.
Overall, Kirby called it a solid season. As short as it was, players and coaches seem relieved just to have a season in 2021. In 2020, all postseason play was suspended due to COVID-19. This year, the seasons are being played to completion. Vicksburg rounded out its season with a 45-38 loss against Constantine in the first round of District play to give the team an 8-7 record.
By Travis Smola