By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity girls’ basketball team is off to its best start in years thanks to a deep roster of talent. The start of the season was highlighted with Head Coach Tim Kirby’s 50th career win coaching for the Bulldogs. The team surprised him with a celebration with balloons after a 56-35 victory over Three Rivers that was never in question.
“I honestly didn’t know it was my 50th win until they just did that, so that’s cool,” Kirby said. “Honestly, I’m just proud of my girls, we’re off to an incredible start. I knew I had a pretty good team, but you know they play so well together, they play so hard!”
The teams started off the season with a 47-42 win over Buchanan, and over the next six wins, the team had six different leading scorers.
“That’s a great problem to have. They share the ball so well with one another, they want to see each other succeed, they play hard,” Kirby said.
Among the highlights was a 37-20 win over Schoolcraft, who narrowly defeated the Bulldogs in their matchup last year. The team also picked up wins over Otsego, Traverse City West, Paw Paw, Niles, and Plainwell.
Against Three Rivers, the Wildcats kept the game close in the first half as the Bulldogs led 30-26. In the second half, Vicksburg took over and kept expanding the lead. Kendra Cooley scored nine points in the second half alone. Hannah Devries was right behind her with six second-half points. Emma Steele also added a couple field goals in the second half. The Bulldogs saw some excellent defense from Scarlett Hosner, Maddison Diekman, and Makayla Allen.
Kirby said the depth of the Bulldogs has been just one key factor of what has made their team so tough to compete against this season. Vicksburg was able to consistently cycle in new players which quickly wore down the defenses of the Wildcats.
“You know, we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, but I kind of told them in the locker room, I believe we have more than anyone else does,” Kirby said. “We can run, and we can wear teams out. We have so many different weapons that can do things for us. So, if one of the girls isn’t having a great night, I have other girls that can step up and do it.
“We’ve got some length in our zone, length in our wing that causes girls problems, causes teams problems,” Kirby added. “When we’re active in that zone and we don’t just stand there, when we get active, we’re hard to score on sometimes.”
The girls have a good chance of getting to double-digit wins with a perfect record intact after the break. They picked up their eighth win of the season against Plainwell 53-36. Then they will face struggling Portage Northern, Sturgis, and Niles teams in their first three matches in January before a tougher matchup with Edwardsburg. Kirby is excited by the possibilities this season might be lining up for them.
“Fifty wins is cool, but I can’t do it without great players, and hopefully we get a lot more,” Kirby said.
By Travis Smola