Category Archives: Sports

Schoolcraft Girls Basketball Enters Tournament Play 18-2

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Savannah Seath, (#5) is introduced during her first game back in uniform after injury. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

The lady Eagle basketball team has been working its way through competitor after competitor since the February break. The team defeated Vicksburg 55-29, Battle Creek Calhoun Christian 69-47, Lawton 63-18 and Hackett Catholic Central 41-32.

Even the best teams will have a night where things just don’t seem to go their way. On Valentine’s day, the Eagles had one of those nights, dropping a heartbreaker 54-45 to the Comets from Kalamazoo Christian, a team they had already defeated earlier in the season 32-22. This would be the girls’ second loss of the season after dropping to Edwardsburg in the season’s first game. After this loss, the team was able to get its focus back and start adding up wins again.

The Bronson Vikings would be first up to face a refueled team of Eagles. Although the Vikings were able to put down more 3’s than the Eagles, it still wasn’t enough. They were able to defeat the Vikings 56-48. Gabi Saxman and Anna Schuppel were the leading scorers for the Eagle attack, both dropping 13, followed by Adrienne Rosey, putting up 10.

Coach Kulczyk has gotten the team headed back in the right direction with wins over Galesburg and Constantine where the Eagles posted wins in dominating fashion. They beat the visiting Rams 63-25 and the Falcons 69-35. Leading scorers for the Eagles against the Falcons were Gabi Saxman, 21; Allie Walther, 18 and Makenzie Miller, 9. With the win against the Falcons, Coach Kulczyk has led the lady Eagles to their 3rd consecutive league title. They sport a 17-2 overall record and a 11-1 league record.

In the last game of the season, the Lady Eagles crushed Benton Harbor, 56-18, ending with 18-2 overall. The girls got the bye into the district semifinal. They will play Marcellus March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Centreville.

Savannah Seath’s Triumphant Return to Action

On February 21, the 9-9 Rams of Galesburg came into the gym of the Schoolcraft Eagles to compete at the Eagles’ Homecoming. They weren’t expecting they’d need to guard senior Savannah Seath, who hasn’t been able to play since last season’s devastating knee injury.

On a March 4, 2019 game against Gobles, Seath suffered injuries that would end the career of most athletes. After major surgery, she was faced with the possibility she might never play basketball again. She was told at the earliest, she might play in 18 months – not an acceptable amount of time for her. Trainer Jordan Love said Seath did agility and strength drills to build up the knee, but not running. She did keep up her shooting skills while she was in rehabilitation.

She showed a desire to be back on the court with her teammates with her never-give-up attitude, Coach Kulczyk said. With her doctors, physical therapists and Jordan Love helping, she was able to hit the floor dressed and ready to go in 11 months not 18.

She only played for five minutes of the first half of the game, but what a five minutes: Her first shot went for 3 points. All of her points that night went in for 3’s, going 4 for 6 with 12 total points. The Eagles were able to dominate the Rams and take the game 63-24. Other leading scorers for the Eagles were Mackenzie Miller, with 18 and Gabi Saxman, with 16.

Four Schoolcraft Wrestlers to Compete in the State Finals

By Mark Blentlinger

After finishing the season with a record of 8-1, Schoolcraft’s wrestling team’s only loss came at the hands of the SAC regular season champions, Constantine. There were plenty of highs during the Eagles wrestling season; for the second year in a row senior Silver Fox competed in the all-girls State wrestling championships at Adrian college and was able to match her last season’s 3rd place.

Senior Mark Fox will be heading back to Ford field again this season with a 3rd place at regionals in the 160-pound weight class. Fox hit a milestone during this season when he got his 150th win at the regional championships on Saturday February 22. Also heading to Detroit will be fellow senior Caden Suckich, who also hit the 150-win milestone earlier in the 2020 season. Suckich had a tough match at the regional championship, dropping his final matchup 3-2 to the number 1 ranked wrestler in the state, Ben Modert of Bronson, at 119 pounds. Joining Fox and Suckich will be regional champion Hunter Martens, at 125 pounds. Rounding out the wrestlers that coach Rob Ling will be helping in Detroit is Gary Cramer, who finished 3rd at regionals in the 130-pound weight class. All four of the Eagle grapplers will be in Detroit on March 6th and 7th hoping they can follow in the footsteps of last season’s Eagle state champion, River Fox.

The Fox family tree has been blessed with champion wrestlers. Silver and River Fox are siblings, and Mark Fox is their cousin. Their proud grandfather, Skip Fox, served on the Schoolcraft School Board for many years.

Bulldogs Pick Up Huge Win Over Sturgis

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity boys’ basketball team avenged an early season loss to Sturgis during Homecoming with a resounding 65-51 victory over the Trojans.

Last time the Bulldogs faced Sturgis, they ended up with 31 turnovers. The team brought a renewed sense of energy. That word has been something of a team mantra in the second half of the season.

“The last two or three games that’s been our word. Just energy,“ Head Coach Josh Noble said after the game.

At the start, it looked like things were going to be close, but Vicksburg quickly pulled away for a 17-9 lead after the first quarter. The Bulldogs extended that lead to 36-25 at the half. In the third, the team slowly pulled away as a raucous crowd cheered them on.

“To come back a few weeks later and show up really pushes us towards the end of the season and I’m really happy for the guys,” Noble said. “They did a great job.”

Noble said several of the boys were banged up with injuries, but it didn’t show in their performance. Most notably with Kyle Rose, who scored 20 in the contest. Parker Wilson and Dillon Shook were not far behind him with 12 apiece.

Jacob Conklin was also playing through injury, but still managed to score 11 points. Drake Steele added four points for the Bulldogs. Ethan Buscher, Lucas Hatridge and Chase Myers each had two. Myers also had several key steals that ultimately led to Bulldog points.

Overall, the team seemed poised and patient. This was especially evident in their passing, something Noble said they’ve been focusing on in practice.

“They’re starting to buy into what you do in practice shows up in the game and I can’t be more proud of the way that they showed up,” Noble said.

The Bulldogs are now 8-11 overall. They dropped their three games to South Haven, Dowagiac and Three Rivers, before a 69-57 win over Parchment. In their latest game, the boys played a close one against Edwardsburg that went to overtime where they ultimately fell to the Eddies 48-38.

The team still should have some good momentum as the season wraps up.

“We want to get to Districts with a good amount of momentum and we’ve got six more games to see if we can do that,” Noble said after the Sturgis game. “It’s really easy to get them motivated when they play that way.”

Lady Bulldogs on Hot Streak in Second Half of the Season

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Vicksburg’s Chloe Hatridge battles for the ball against Sturgis defenders. Hannah Vallier, trails the play.

By Travis Smola

After returning from winter break, the Vicksburg varsity girls’ basketball team lost their first three games in a row. They’ve since turned that around, winning five in a row.

After downing Constantine 43-35 on the road, the team returned to home court for Homecoming against Sturgis and came away with a resounding 41-27 win. The two teams played things close in the first half. The score was 11-9 Vicksburg after the first quarter before Sturgis took a 20-18 lead at the half.

“The first half I felt like we got shots that we wanted; we just didn’t make them,” Head Coach Tim Kirby said. “I told my girls; ‘You keep taking the shots and they’re going to go in.’”

The girls did just that. The Lady Bulldogs took an eight-point lead in the third quarter, holding the Trojans to only two points. “I thought we came out with a better defensive intensity in the third quarter and that was really the difference,” Kirby said.

The lead scorer for Vicksburg was Hannah Vallier. She sunk five 3-pointers on her way to a 19-point night. She also had eight rebounds in the contest. “She’s hard to stop when she starts hitting threes,” Kirby said.

The whole team seemed to be passing and rebounding much better than they did in the first half of the season. “That’s one of the things the first time we played them, we didn’t rebound very well,” Kirby said. “It’s something we’ve really been working on in practices, taking care of the ball a little bit better.”

Brady Brown was the next leading scorer with eight points on the night, using her height under the basket to frustrate the defense. Kelsey Diekman and Chloe Hatridge both had four points on the night, Payton Lewis had three, Allyson Naster had two and Danielle Diekman had one on a free throw.

The win was a big one because the team was fighting for position in the Conference with Sturgis.

The momentum continued after the big Homecoming win as the team picked up three more victories against South Haven, Dowagiac and Parchment. The wins should put the Lady Bulldogs in a solid position going into District Play.

“We really wanted that one tonight, it was a big win for us,” Kirby said. The girls’ five-game winning streak was ultimately ended at home against Edwardsburg in a 62-27 loss to drop their record to 10-9.

Vicksburg Athletics Hall of Fame Inducts New Members

Three Vicksburg greats in athletics have been selected for induction into the Vicksburg High School sports Hall of Fame. They are Doug Stafinski, Kristen Kuhlman Westrate and Diane Eicholz Fort. A gathering to honor them is set for Saturday, March 28 at 6:30 at Angels Crossing. Family and friends of the nominees are urged to attend, according to Vicksburg Athletic Director Mike Roy.

They will join a prestigious group of Vicksburg athletes who have plaques hanging in the hallway of the Mercer Munn gymnasium. Over 55 people have received this honor since 1987. The first ceremony was held in the old high school gym with Jack Moss, then sports editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette, as the speaker and presenter.

Doug Stafinski Named to the VHS Athletic Hall of Fame

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Doug Stafinski at the microphone at the Homecoming basketball game. He has been announcing Vicksburg basketball games for 23 years.

Doug Stafinski, the “Voice of the Bulldogs,” has been selected to enter the Vicksburg Athletic Hall of Fame. He has been announcing games for 23 years for both high school boys’ and girls’ basketball and boys’ and girls’ soccer. He decided to help out when he heard there was a need and said to himself, “I could probably do that because I go to a lot of games and enjoys sports.”

Stafinski said he was “humbled and honored to be selected to the Hall” because his dad, Frank, was inducted the second year of its existence in 1988. Frank earned 17 varsity letters during his years at Vicksburg High School. “He was a truly great athlete in the four sports he participated in. The extra letter came in tennis when someone said they needed one more guy to round out the team for a short while, even though he was participating in football, basketball and baseball.”

The younger Stafinski graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1964, got his degree in four years from Michigan State University and served in Vietnam. He was the postmaster in Vicksburg for 14 years and has been a Lions Club president for two different tours. For the last 19 years he has been the chairperson of the Lions Club Summer Festival, commonly known as the B&B which is the club’s main fundraiser. At the ripe young age of 73, he is still engaged in a variety of athletic activity. He walks, he bikes, plays tennis and pickleball at a high level, often beating much younger opponents. His passion for sports and commitment to family and community make him a great candidate for this honor, one of his nominating letters stated.

Here is a list of his accomplishments as an athlete and person of distinction in the community:

Earned six Varsity Letters – basketball – football – baseball – cross country

Selected Most Valuable Player in basketball 1964

Wolverine All Conference in basketball 1964

Honorable Mention All State in basketball

Basketball Team captain 1964

Earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree -Michigan State graduate 1968

Vietnam War veteran – United States Army

Coached MISLE Soccer and Little League Softball

Named Melvin Jones Fellow Award – Highest Lions Club honor given

Served as Coordinator of the Vicksburg Lions Club Festival

Served VHS Athletic Department as public address announcer 25 years

Volunteer service to the community of Vicksburg for over 30 years

Diane Fort Honored by Selection to the Hall of Fame

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Diane Eicholtz (Fort) chases a fly ball while playing for the Vicksburg High School softball team in 1988.

Diane (Eicholtz) Fort graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1988 when the softball team she played on was ranked 7th in the state. The team lost in the regionals to 4th-ranked Delton-Kellogg. She married Adam Fort and stayed in the community to raise her family and teach at Vicksburg High School until 2009. They have a daughter, Jena, who was also a good athlete, and sons Caleb and Ryan, who played lacrosse. “We raised three Bulldogs and are proud of it,” Fort said.

“My dad was a big influence on me as he was very involved in fast pitch softball. We were like field rats, always at the ball diamond every weekend. I was a tomboy growing up,” Fort said. “My first coach when I was seven was Terry Coburn and we won a championship. Mike Wunderlin and Zeke Zakarias were other coaches who had a big part of my learning to play softball. Our championship 1988 team had seven seniors who were all good players including Coach Gwyn Evans, Toni Boelman, Patti Clark, Kris Baker, Lynn Robertson, Tracy Pillar, Shannon Miller, Sue Fleckenstein, Julie Simons, Terri Cooley, Julie Zakarias, Darcy Hayward and Fort. Darcy’s mom Mary Ann was the scorekeeper all those years.”

Fort is now the program coordinator for Education for Employment at the  Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency.  She has been a member of the Vicksburg Lions Club for several years, helping out in the community that helped raise her.

Following is her list of accomplishments as listed on the plaque that honors her:

Earned five Varsity Letters – Basketball 3- Softball 2

Susan Little Best Female Athlete Award Winner 1988

Best Defensive Player Award Winner in Basketball 1987

Wolverine All-Conference in Softball 1988

Selected MHSAA All-Region Team in Softball 1988

Selected MHSAA  All-District Team in Softball 1988

Selected to the MHSAA East-West All Star Game 1988

Earned 3rd Team All-State honors 1988

Set the VHS Single Season Home Run Record (9) 1988

Senior Season Batting Average of .453

Selected to Play in the Midwest Elite Softball Tournament 1988

Earned a Bachelor of Business Arts degree  from Western Michigan University 1992

Earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from WMU 2008

Vicksburg High School Business Teacher 2002-2009