Eagles boys basketball heads to state quarterfinals

By Mark Blentlinger

After losing their first game since the 2019 season to the Benton Harbor Tigers 49-68, the Eagles regrouped and began a winning streak, starting with a win on Senior Night against the Constantine Falcons.

Six Schoolcraft seniors played their final game in the Eagles gym: Jonathon Abel, Carson Flynn, Dru Matheny, Skyler Thompson, Bryce VanderWiere and Harmon DeVries. The Eagles pressured the visiting Falcons, keeping them unbalanced. The Eagles ended the first period with a 11-point advantage: 25-14.

When the Eagles and Falcons hit the court, the crowd always expects a physical game. This battle of the boards was such a contest. With the smallest player on the court for the Eagles Jonathon Abel at 5’10” and the tallest at 6’7” – Bryce VanderWeire – it was hard for the Falcons to get many rebounds. At halftime, the Falcons trailed the Eagles 50-30. At the end of the third period, the Eagles led 69-41. They topped the Falcons 81-65 at game’s end.

The game between the Gobles Tigers and the Eagles was canceled on March 16, giving the team a little time to rest before they traveled to Lapeer on March 19. There they faced the Lightning and came home with another Eagles win, 58-46.

In the District semifinal, the Eagles faced the Raiders from Decatur, and the Schoolcraft team came out on top 77-31, punching their ticket for the district championship contest March 27 at Bridgman High School against the Niles Brandywine Bobcats. The Eagles defeated the Bobcats, winning 56-33.

The Lawton Blue Devils were the next team to fall in the March 30 regional semifinal. The Blue Devils hoped to stop the Eagles’ roll, but Schoolcraft ended Lawton’s season 48-33. The next team in the Eagles’ sights was the Kalamazoo Christian Comets. Schoolcraft faced the Comets in Bronson, and the final score again affirmed the Eagles post-season dominance: 52-37, securing a regional championship trophy.

The Eagles advance to state quarterfinals at Loy Norrix High School. They’ll face Grand Rapids Covenant Christian there on April 6.

Eagles girls basketball moves into post-season play

After closing a successful regular season, the Eagles girls’ basketball team continues in post season play.

Anna Schuppel and Annie Housler played their last home game against Constantine’s Falcons on senior night. The Falcons came into that Constantine game with a 5-3 record in the Valley division of the SAC Conference. The Eagle weren’t much ahead with a 6-2 record. They led 19-9 by the end of the first period. The host team seemed to have an eye on the Falcons’ weakness, able to get into the paint and score from under the boards. In the second period, the Eagles kept rolling up points from under the rim, hitting the locker room at halftime with a 32-16 lead.

Both teams strengthened in the third period, ending with the Eagles ahead, 40-22. Schuppel and Housler came out of their last home game with 1:20 left on the clock to hugs, cheers and tears. The Eagles topped the Falcons 55-38.

The girls kept winning, beating K Christian, 62-31, Parchment, 72-6 and Delton Kellogg, 59-16.

Then Hackett Catholic Prep came into town to share the conference Championship. They toppled the Eagles 40-30.

But the Eagles recovered, beating Galesburg-Augusta 52-20 and Gobles 36-13. In the District semi-final, the Eagles took on White Pigeon and come out on top, 50-10.

Next, Schoolcraft faced off against the Bronson Vikings for the District Championship in White Pigeon. The Eagles came in with an 11-2 record, the Vikings with 12-3. The The final score: Schoolcraft 60, Bronson 22.

The Eagles met undefeated Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep on March 29 in the regional quarterfinal, winning 53-51. With a one-day reprieve from play, the Eagles defeated Gobles 37-12 on March 31 to capture the regional title.

The team plays Kent City in the state quarterfinals on Monday, April 5 at Portage Northern High School.

Schoolcraft Sports Teams

MHSAA adjusts spring schedule

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has adjusted the spring 2021 schedule, delaying the start of practices in those sports by a week to March 22 and competition to March 26 to accommodate a later end to winter sports.

The calendar change should ease pressure on indoor facility usage and athletes changing seasons, with winter sports concluding up to two weeks later this school year after a delayed start due to COVID-19.

The association’s Representative Council based its decision in part on feedback from a survey of MHSAA member high schools, which saw 74 percent favoring a delay in spring sports activity of at least a week. State coaches’ associations for spring sports also were consulted. Generally, the great majority of Michigan schools are unable to begin consistent spring sports outdoor activity and competition until early April.

All spring sports tournament dates remain as originally scheduled, with MHSAA Finals in baseball, softball and girls’ soccer concluding the 2020-21 postseason June 19.

The entire spring sports season was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, the Council approved an allowance for spring teams to meet for voluntary practices over 16 contact days in September and October. General conditioning with an unlimited number of students is currently allowed, with other out-of-season training (four-player workouts, open gyms/facilities) allowed to continue through March 21, with the council having eliminated the preseason downtime restriction for spring sports this year.

Eagles bowling on a roll

By Mark Blentlinger

High school bowling was able to start up at the end of January since it is not considered a contact sport, though with masks mandated for competition. Schoolcraft bowling returned all underclassmen from last season’s teams; no new bowlers joined this season. Returning for the girls from last season is lone senior Maya Pearce, junior Brynleigh Macinnes, sophomores Alayna Meade, Catie Wright, Molly Pearce, Clair McIntyre and Haley Earles. Boys returning this season are seniors Max Desmond, Kyle Fleck, Zach McGill and Brian Crofoot; junior Simon Sheen; sophomores Shaun Sampsell and Ian McDonald.

With a shortened season – it would have normally started Nov. 16 and finished the first weekend of March for the State Championship – bowling began Jan. 25 and will end March 26-27 for teams that qualify for the state championships. The Schoolcraft boys’ team has a record of 5-3 overall, posting wins against Martin, Kalamazoo Christian, Burr Oak (twice) and Niles. Losses were to Niles, Bronson and Constantine. Leading the boys’ team in average is senior Max Desmond with 194, followed by fellow senior Brian Crofoot with 167. The girls’ team has a record of 5-2-1 with wins against Kalamazoo Christian, Burr Oak (twice), Bronson and Constantine, losses to Niles (twice) and a tie with Martin. Leading the averages for the girls is senior Maya Pearce with 150, followed by sophomore Alayana Meade with 124. The bowling teams will be participating in the divisional tournament on March 12 at Continental Lanes in Portage. They then will head to division 4 regional championships on March 19 and 20 with a location yet to be determined. If either team finishes in the top three places out of 16 teams, they will advance onto the Division 4 state championships on March 26-27. If any bowler ends the day in the top 10 out of 100 bowlers, they will earn a spot in the Division 4 Individual State Championship.

Wrestling season begins

By Mark Blentlinger

Schoolcraft wrestlers have been able to hit the mats finally, with their first contest Feb. 13 at the Allegan Quad match including Fennville and Coldwater. The Eagle grapplers were able to come away the first match of the season 3-0, posting wins against host Allegan 63-18, Coldwater 60-18 and Fennville 69-12. Four days later, they headed south to Constantine to compete against the hosting Falcons, Gobles and Fennville. Again, the Eagles posted wins against Fennville 66-18 and Gobles 70-11.

On the 20th, the Eagles made their way to Bronson High school gym to face off against the hosting Vikings and Bucks from Buchanan. After suffering the first loss of this shortened season to the Vikings, 38-58, they were able to bounce back and post a lopsided win against Buchanan 54-9, giving the Eagles a 6-1 record so far. The Eagles will be on the road again Feb 24th at Lawton High school against the Blue Devils and Rams of Galesburg. New guidelines for this season have the wrestlers able to compete twice a day. The Eagles’ next events will be in Delton, Parchment and Gull Lake before districts start March 17.

Basketball starting hot

By Mark Blentlinger

After the MHSAA cleared them to move forward with winter contact sports earlier than first planned, the Eagles picked right up where they left off last year. The Schoolcraft boys’ basketball team was the only team left in the state with an undefeated record, 21-0. On Feb. 11, it continued the undefeated streak, defeating Delton Kellogg 62-47. The Rams from Galesburg-Augusta were next to fall, 86-34. With Hackett Catholic prep, the Eagles were able to continue winning, defeating the Irish 70-54. The team’s record continued with a lopsided win 61-15 Feb. 18 against the Tigers from Gobels. Constantine was the next hopeful. The Falcons lost as well, 67-23. The team next traveled across town to Kalamazoo Christian High School , defeating the comets 63-53. The Eagles were scheduled to head to Parchment on the 26th, to Covenant Christian High on the 27th, and to Delton March 3.

Eagles head back to volleyball semifinals…

By Mark Blentlinger

On Nov. 15, three days after the Schoolcraft volleyball team beat Kalamazoo Christian to win its fourth consecutive Regional Championship, the MHSAA made an announcement: Every fall sport was being put on a three-week pause, no competition and no practice. Volleyball had just three games left to complete the entire season – state quarter-finals, semi-finals and the state championship. MHSAA on Dec. 29 announced that the fall season could resume practice Jan. 4. With just eight days of practice after being idle for weeks, the Eagles would face off against Calvin Christian in the quarter-finals at Loy Norrix High School. Two days prior to the game it was announced 50 fans per team would be allowed.

In the Division 3 state quarter finals, Schoolcraft jumped out to an early lead of 5-0, over Grandville Calvin Christian, with Kelby Goldschmeding serving and showing some great defense. Calvin was able to close the gap slowly with some unforced errors by the Eagles. Neither team looked like it had missed a beat with the weeks of delay.

Both teams were making some tremendous defensive plays but the front line of the Eagles, consisting of Kayla Onken , Maggie Morris and Anna Schupel, just seemed too powerful for the Knights. The Eagles were able to take game one, 25-16. In game two, Calvin Christian was able to break out a lead on the Eagles 7-3, but a hard kill by Schupel led to a five-point rally. The Eagles put some great teamwork together to take the game, 25-17.

Game three was the deciding one. Either the Eagles would punch their ticket to Kellogg for the second straight year to play in the state semi-finals, or they’d play game four. The Eagles were working on a 10-point run before the Squires head Coach Amanda Bremmer called a time out to give her girls a chance to catch a breath and calm down. The Eagles had other plans. They began to strike back, keeping Calvin Christian on its heels. With the score sitting at 20-8 Eagles, another time out called by Calvin Christian gave the Eagles the little breather they needed.

Game three ended on Maggie Morris’ kill and a score of 25-12, sending the Eagles back to the semi-finals for the second year in a row.

…But fall to Monroe St. Mary Catholic

Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

After their quarter-final win, the Eagles headed back to play at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena where they expected to play Valley Lutheran High School, a Saginaw team which defeated Royal Oak’s Shrine Catholic 3-0 in a Jan. 12 quarter-final. But 13 days before the scheduled match, Valley Lutheran was forced to forfeit the game due to a positive COVID test.

The Eagles continued to practice, following health guidelines.

For the second straight year, the Schoolcraft team prepared for a face-off with the Kestrels from Monroe St Mary Catholic Central. Last season’s championship had come down to a tie-breaker match that the Kestrels won 15-12. These two powerhouse teams first met in 2014; the Kestrels came out on top. The Eagles were hungry for payback.

Monroe started out tough in Set 1, stretching a 6-0 point run before Eagles Coach Onken called a timeout to give the team a breather. With a tremendous block by Anna Schupel, the Eagles were able to get some momentum, bringing the score up to 11-8 Kestrels. Monroe came back to add more points, stretching the score to 17-10. The Eagles found it hard to get a momentum going, especially at the net – the Kestrels front line blocked almost everything.

Set 1 belonged to the Kestrels as defense became a factor between these two teams. The Eagles came on late bringing the score closer, but the Kestrels won, 25-19.

Kelby Goldschmeding started off serving in Set 2, but the Eagles quickly fell behind 8-4. It seemed that wherever the Eagles hit the ball a Kestrel was there with a save. Soon, the Kestrels started to make some unforced errors, allowing the Eagles to work their way back a little. Unfortunately, the Eagles dropped Set 2, 25-14.

Set 3 was a championship set for Monroe St. Mary and a stay-alive set for Schoolcraft. The Eagles started with some success, making it 5-5. The Kestrels stretched the lead going on a 15-3 scoring streak, eventually defeating the Eagles 28-8 to claim back-to-back Division 3 titles.

Leading the Eagles was senior Maggie Morris with 9 kills, 2 digs, 2 blocks and an ace. Senior Anna Schupel added 6 kills and 2 blocks. Senior Kayla Onken had 3 kills, 15 assists, 6 digs, 1 block and 1 ace. Senior Allie Goldschmeding contributed 15 digs, 3 assists and Senior Kelby Goldschmeding added 15 digs and 3 assists.