Category Archives: Sports

Cliffhanger for Eagles vs. Irish Boys’ Basketball Teams

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Brady Flynn drives to the basket against Kalamazoo Hackett, scoring a team high 11 points. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

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.

Lady Eagles Basketball Has Some Big Wins

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Savannah Seath goes up for a shot against Kalamazoo Christian. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

Since a hard 44-42 loss to the undefeated Centreville Bulldogs in early January, the Lady Eagles have been on a roll, racking up wins at Delton Kellogg, 50-31, Lawton 72-27, Hackett Catholic Prep, 63-30, and Kalamazoo Christian, 54-40. On Feb. 19, they faced off against the Falcons of Constantine at Schoolcraft High School, taking down their rival, 72-35.

The Eagles went on the road to face a much bigger opponent in Edwardsburg and lost 52-41. The Eddies are a Division 2 school, while the Eagles are in Division 3. The ladies gave the Eddies a run for their money. The win for the Eddies helped them maintain that team’s unblemished record, now 20 wins, 0 losses. The outcome for the Eagles moved their loss record up to 2. The leading scorers for the Eagles were Savannah Seath with 15, Gabi Saxman, 12, Mackenzie Miller, 12 and Adrienne Rosey, 2.

The Lady Eagles still had even larger opponents to face, as they headed to Kalamazoo Loy Norrix to take on the Knights, a Division 1 school. The girls showed the Knights just how good they are, beating them, 55-28. Gabi Saxman put up 25, Mackenzie Miller, 10, Savannah Seath, 5.

The Lady Eagles last home game was against Watervliet. It was the last time that seniors Chloe Outman and Olivia Ingle would play in their home gymnasium. There were lots of hugs from teammates and tears for the seniors as they came out of the game late in the 4th period. The rest of the team finished off the game, beating the Panthers, 52-27.

The Eagles are now ready to start District play at Bloomingdale March 4.

Bulldog Bowling Wraps Up Season in Regional Play

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity bowling teams had a better-than-average turnout of players this season.

“We had a couple of younger sophomores step up and bowl from the JV team to varsity this year,” Head Coach James Myers said. The boys’ team had 12 bowlers this year; the girls team fielded 11, which was dramatically up from the usual four or five.

The boys’ team was slightly better than the girls, finishing ninth in team regionals. In the individual portion, sophomore Regan Powell was the top finisher. He came in 17th place with a total of 1,091 pins. Fellow sophomore Tristan Bierema finished 39th with 1,003 pins. Senior Trenton VanderBor finished 43 with 974 pins.

For the Lady Bulldogs, senior Samantha Cox was the top finisher. She finished in 40th place with 847 pins. Sophomores Kassidee Root and Mykah Zehner were the next highest finishers at 45th and 56th with 822 and 773 pins respectively.

Although no one from either team earned a trip to state this year, Myers said the girls showed great improvement from the last and won several matches. He said probably the biggest overall highlight of the year was the boys getting a victory over Portage Northern in their Southwest Michigan Bowling Conference Saturday League, a league their opponent eventually won.

Bulldog Basketball Team Plows Through Adversity

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Ben Johnson tries a layup in a hotly contested game against Dowagiac that the Bulldogs won.

By Travis Smola

Things have been a bit rough for the Vicksburg varsity boys’ basketball team this season after the resignation of Coach Jeff Lovell. The team finished the season with an 8-13 record.

Athletic Director Mike Roy stepped in to take over head coaching duties in January. The team picked up a big 55-34 win at home over 8-9 Comstock in one of the latest games.

“Tonight was a really good team win for us,” Roy said after that game. “We played good defense and made a lot of positive things happen. Got a lot of guys into the game and we had good flow.”

Senior Kyle Rose led the way in scoring, putting up 16 points against the Colts. Junior Chase Myers and sophomore Jacob Conklin each added 8 points. Junior Tyler Kienbaum had seven points while junior Ethan Buscher had six. Senior Tommy Loriso added four late points to help cement the lead and juniors Dillon Shook, Jared Gorsline and Lucas Hatridge rounded out the scoring with two points each.

The game was indicative of how well the team has handled a coach change and two games rescheduled due to weather. The Comstock game was a good bit of redemption since the Bulldogs lost to the same team in the first game of the year.

“It gave us a good measuring stick to see where we were at the beginning of the season and the end of the season,” Roy said. “The guys have handled the adversity really well.”

Since the coaching change, they had been feeling more on the winning side of things. In early February the team picked up a dramatic and emotional 60-54 win over Dowagiac that saw a big celebration by the team and fans alike on the court afterwards. The team got another win over Paw Paw, 65-62, a few weeks later.

It wasn’t just the team that had to learn on the fly. Roy said he faced some challenges too. “I had a lot of growing to do also as a coach to try and figure out rotations, who played well with who, and that’s always complex for a coach to do.”

The season ended with a 46-44 loss against Edwardsburg in the district tournament. Rose had a team-high 15 points. Conklin had 13, Kienbaum 10. Senior Shane Earl had four points and Myers added a couple of his own. The team had a lead through the first two quarters before the Eddies came charging back. The Bulldogs made a late charge, but ran out of possessions and time.

Lady Bulldogs Drop Game to Rival Three Rivers

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Abbey Laffler does battle with the Chieftains as Allyson Naster, #10, looks on.

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity girls’ basketball team lost its second match-up of the year against rival Three Rivers 57-42 on its home court to bring its record to 9-9.

“The final was rough, but I think we played pretty hard against a pretty good team,” Head Coach Tim Kirby said. “They just made more shots down the stretch than we did.”

The game was marked by the Wildcats’ very physical style of play. That style is something the Lady Bulldogs have had trouble adjusting to all year. But Kirby felt they handled it better this second go-around with the Wildcats.

“I think Three Rivers intimidated us the first time that we played. It didn’t feel like we were intimidated tonight,” Kirby said.

The leading scorer of the night for the Lady Bulldogs was senior Madeleine Geiger, who put up 15 points. Sophomore Hannah Vallier wasn’t far behind with 11 of her own.

Fellow sophomore Chloe Hatridge had five. Junior Kelsey Diekman had four. Senior Abbey Laffler had three points. Sophomore Brady Brown and junior Sydney Finos each had two.

The game marked the end of a rough three-game stretch in which the team also lost games against Edwardsburg and Niles-Brandywine. Kirby noted that both of those teams are ranked high in the state. Overall, Kirby is pleased with how the season has progressed. He feels they just need to get over the hump of beating some of the more talented teams they face on the schedule.

“I’m proud of my girls for how hard they fought tonight,” Kirby said. “I think we’re taking steps in the right direction to get that way. We didn’t back down from them.”

Vicksburg Wrestling Season Ends Just Short of Regionals

By Travis Smola

It was another long rebuilding year for the Vicksburg varsity wrestling program. But there was a definite improvement over the previous season.

“We had one more conference placer than last year so we’re improving a little bit,” Head Coach Jeff Mohney said.

In total, three wrestlers placed at the conference meet. This included a stellar performance from 112- pounder Collin Hassenger. At one point this season he was undefeated. At Conference he ended up taking second. In the 145-pound weight class, Griffin Day took fourth. And in the 171-pound class, Luke Becker also took fourth to round out the Bulldogs’ season.

“We thought a couple kids were going to make it through to Regionals,” Mohney said. “They didn’t quite make it, but it was a tough Regional this year and tough Districts.”

Mohney said he’ll be encouraging the boys to take part in wrestling camps this summer. The team will also mix in a few spring and summer workouts here and there before next season. Mohney said he is looking forward to some middle schoolers coming up next season, which should give the team more depth.

Schoolcraft Eagles Bowling Learning to Compete

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Bowling coaches Logan and Mark Blentlinger.

The Eagle bowling program, in the middle of its 13th season, is experiencing growing pains. Graduation hit the Eagles hard with just three bowlers returning from the 2017-18 teams.

First-year head coach for the boys’ program is Logan Blentlinger; the assistant coach is Ally West. Both were bowlers for the program in earlier years. Blentlinger was a pivotal part of the program’s first-ever Regional championship team in 2012 and was also that year’s Division 4 individual Regional champion. West was the first girl to go on to bowl at the state level. The two are bringing some great experience to this team.

New bowlers in the boys’ program have adapted very well and are starting to progress nicely, according to Coach Blentlinger. He is very happy with how fast these new bowlers are coming along. Leading the team in average is sophomore Max Desmond with a 144, followed closely by sophomore Kyle Fleck with a 138 average so far. The boys are competing against some very strong teams with lots of experience. The toughest team they face is Bronson, the reigning Division 4 state champions.

|The girls program is coached by Mark Blentlinger who took over the entire bowling program in 2010 from retiring coach Roy Stanford, who had started the program four years before. The girls lone returning bowler is sophomore Maya Pearce. “She has done a great job helping the new bowlers learn the ropes,” her coach said. Pearce is leading the team with an average of 116 followed by freshman Lindsey Hills with a 104. Both teams have a 3-8 record in the conference right now.