01-25-2018 Tri-City Area Sports

Watervliet Hall of Fame announces Class of 2018 inductees

The dream of Watervliet High School Athletic Director Ken Dietz took a giant leap forward, as he announced the Class of 2018 inductees.

For years, Dietz has dreamed of creating a method in which former athletes, coaches, teams, and community members could be recognized for their commitment to Watervliet. According to Dietz, those selected “made a significant positive impact on our sports.”

That dream became a reality January 17 as a 10-member committee whittled the initial 32 nominees down to the first class of inductees.  “I had no idea we would have this many nominees,” Dietz commented. Three additional nominations were made but two were ineligible as they had not been out of school for at least 10 years. Another nominee requested his name be removed from consideration.

The inaugural class of Hall of Fame honorees will include former players and coaches. Inductees will be recognized Thursday, March 1 during half-time of the boys’ basketball game against Lawton.

The Class of 2018 Hall of Fame recipients includes Dan Hutchinson. Hutchinson, a member of the Watervliet 1,000-point club in basketball, was the Berrien County Athlete of the Year in 1983. He played football, basketball and baseball for the Panthers. Hutchinson was named All-State in basketball in 1982 and 1983 and scored 1,012 points in three years on varsity.  As a quarterback, he was also All-State in football in 1983.

Eugene Bednarowski coached varsity track, cross country, and basketball during his tenure at Watervliet. Coach Bednarowski, who led teams from 1972 to 1985, was the head coach of the state champion cross country team in the 1970s.  Bednarowski’s passion for running is still seen today in the Bednarowski 5K walk and run event that is held each year during Watervliet’s Fourth of July festival. Proceeds from the race are used to fund the Bednarowski scholarship which is awarded to a graduating senior each year.

WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE… Hartford’s Aaron Sinclair makes scoring two points against Bloomingdale easy as Michael Ellis (3) defends the basket last Tuesday night. Hartford won 71-60, as Sinclair scored 12 points during the contest. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Richie Morlock will join the inductees. Morlock was the 1953 Herald Palladium Athlete of the Year. Morlock was called a “great competitor” and won 10 of 12 sports letters offered by Watervliet at the time.  Morlock played football, basketball, and baseball for the Panthers.

Another athlete joining the Class of 2018 is Don Finnefrock. Finnefrock, who played for the Panthers during the early 1950s, participated in football, basketball, and baseball. Finnefrock was an All-State Honorable Mention award winner. He scored 34 touchdowns during his varsity football career. Finnefrock also pitched a perfect game versus Hartford in the last game of the 1951 season.  He went on to graduate from Western Michigan University. While at WMU, he played football and baseball. He was Honorable Mention in the MAC for football. Finnefrock pitched in the NCAA college world series and was offered a professional playing contract for the Chicago Cubs.

Kim Gear, a 2005 graduate who played basketball, volleyball, track and was a member of the equestrian team, was also named to the Class of 2018.  She was the first female Panther to win the Herald Palladium’s Athlete of the Year award. In basketball, Gear was a four-year varsity player and won All-Conference honors three times in addition to winning All-State twice. She scored over 1,000 points as a Panther.  She finished in the top 10 in state for equestrian twice. Gear was a two-time state qualifier in shot put and discus. She was All-State for volleyball.

Ron Farac coached sports at Watervliet for 42 consecutive years, from 1972 to 2014. Farac’s leadership of the football, track, and basketball teams certainly had an impact on the hundreds of student athletes that had the pleasure of learning from him.  Farac organized the Watervliet Relays from its inception and is still part of the event today.

Thomas Hutchinson, a 1977 WHS graduate, also made the Class of 2018.  The football, basketball, and track star was the runner-up for the Berrien County Athlete of the Year award in 1977. He was a member of the Watervliet basketball squad that went 20-4 in 1977. In track, he was a member of the mile relay that broke the then school record in 1977. He also held the long jump record at the school and was also a high hurdler.  Hutchinson was All-Conference in football in 1975 and 1976.

Rick Sprague, an athlete on the football, basketball, and track teams in the mid-1960s, also made the grade.  Sprague was the first 1,000-yard rusher at Watervliet during his senior year. He was a member of the perfect 9-0 undefeated football team. He received All-State honors in football. In track, Sprague was a member of the relay team that set the school record. He also set the 100- and 220-yard dash records and was a state qualifier as part of the track team.

Jason Forrester, current varsity girls’ basketball coach, enters the Hall of Fame as an athlete.  Forrester played football, basketball, and baseball for the Panthers.  He was First Team All-Conference for three years. He was a five-time winner of the WSJM Athlete of the Week. In 1992 he was named All-State by the Associated Press. In 1991 and 1992 the Detroit Free Press named him All-State. Forrester is Watervliet’s all-time leading scorer with 1,152 points. He also nabbed First Team All-Conference honors in baseball in 1991 and 1992.

The final member of the Class of 2018 is former coach Gerald Barchett. The formidable coach was also a teacher and former athletic director at the school. He led the varsity football team to the state semi-finals in 1979 and won numerous league titles.

Upon learning who made the inaugural induction, Dietz said, “I think we have an outstanding first class.  I’m thrilled to be able to honor such rich history that our community, our current kids need to see and our community needs to celebrate.  From the nominations we got, I think we got it right.”

Dietz appreciated the input of Mike Leith, Jim Keech, Rebecca Yazel, Jeff Geisler, and the committee members “who got the ball rolling.”

Additional details regarding the March 1 induction ceremony will be shared as they are announced.

The nomination period for next year’s Hall of Fame class will open in the spring and will close in October.

Hartford runs rings around Mendon

The Hartford girls’ varsity basketball team mopped the floor with Mendon Friday, January 19 as the Indians won 59-33.

With a 13-8 lead after the first period, host Hartford hit their stride in the second period. The Hartford pressure defense resulted in numerous Mendon turnovers and easy steals for the Indians. Once the Lady Indians got the ball back in their hands, they dished it down to AJ Jackson who was waiting underneath the net for easy two-point buckets.

Hartford scored 18 points in the second period and limited Mendon to just five points. It was Hartford up 31-13 at the half.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL(IE)… Coloma used sheer will to power past Kalamazoo Hackett Saturday night. After trailing by double digits in the first half, Coloma pulled out the 54-49 overtime win. Here, Willie Donald hooks the ball toward the basket. Donald scored two points in the game for Coloma. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Indians scored 19 points in the third period, while Mendon managed eight. With three quarters in the books, Hartford held a 50-21 lead.

In the fourth period, Mendon outscored Hartford 12-9, but the Indians walked away with the easy 59-33 win.

Mikenzie Chambers recorded a double-double in the contest. She scored 14 points and 10 rebounds.

AJ Jackson had a double-double as well. She led Hartford with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Jessica Cortes scored six points as the Indians improved to 8-2 overall and 8-1 in the Southwest 10 Conference.

Watervliet’s Kieft named MHSAA –Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete finalist

Word from the Michigan High School Athletic Association finds Watervliet senior Bryant Kieft has been nominated for an MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete award.

Kieft is one of 120 finalists for the 2017-18 school year. A $1,000 scholarship, funded by Farm Bureau, will be awarded to 32 individuals.

Kieft is one of 12 Class C boys finalists and is vying for one of three scholarships.

Over the past 29 years, the program has awarded 736 scholarships.

This year, 396 schools submitted 1,422 applications. To be eligible for the scholarship, student-athletes must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and won a varsity letter in at least one sport in which a post season tournament is sponsored by the MHSAA.

The applicants also had to answer essay questions, pen a 500-word essay on sportsmanship, and provide two letters of recommendation.

Kieft plays football, basketball, and baseball for the Panthers. Good luck, Bryant!

Watervliet hoops hampers Gobles

Watervliet’s varsity basketball team scored a 48-39 road win over Gobles Friday, January 19.

The teams were knotted at eight points apiece following the first period. In the second eight-minute period, Gobles outscored Watervliet 13-10 to take a 21-18 lead at the half.

In the third period, both squads scored 14 points, and Gobles maintained a three-point lead as the fourth quarter opened.

It was Watervliet who came up big. The Panther offense scored 16 points and pressure defense helped to hamper Gobles, who managed just four points.

In the 48-39 victory, Watervliet was led by Garrett Matthews. He scored 14 points, grabbed two boards, and had two steals.  Dan Cluster scored 10 points, blocked three shots, and had three rebounds.

Watervliet improved to 6-3 on the season.

Coloma remains undefeated after difficult game against Hackett, wins in OT

It was not pretty, but the Comets of Coloma got the 54-49 overtime win over Kalamazoo Hackett Saturday, January 20.

Hackett won the jump ball but failed to convert the bucket. Coloma grabbed the rebound but turned the ball over. That was a snippet of what would come in the first half of the ball game for the Comets.

Coloma’s first points came off two free throws by Zack Goodline.

The fast paced, high powered, strong defensive effort by both teams was fun to watch. Hackett went on a nine point run late in the first period and was ahead 16-7 when the buzzer sounded.

In the second period, Coloma’s Adam Hearn scored two points to start the scoring.

The boos rained down from the stands after Coloma’s Michael Dancer was whistled for a foul after blocking a shot with a good deal of authority. It was a nice block. Brendan Lute also did a nice job on defense. He had a nice block under the basket, too.

Coloma’s Willie Donald scored two points to take Coloma’s total to 11.

At the end of the first half, Coloma trailed 29-14 and it looked as if Coloma’s undefeated run this season would come to an end.

But, don’t count out the Comets. They are more of a second-half squad than a first period one. Their fire took root in the second half, but it took until the fourth quarter for Coloma to claw back and capture the lead for the first time in the contest.

Coloma put up 12 points in the third period and limited Hackett to five points. Building on their momentum, Coloma added 20 in the fourth and held Hackett to 12 as the Comets tied the game.

Off to OT we go! Coloma scored eight points and edged Hackett 54-49.

Coloma’s Zach Goodline had 20 points. Phillip Caldwell had a heck of a game as he scored 16 points.  The duo scored more than half the team’s points.

Michael Dancer scored six points. Robbie Scroeder had four. Adam Hearn tallied three points. Willie Donald and Chris Brown chipped in two points each. Levi Wilkens rounded out the Coloma scoring with one point.

The Comets are now 9-0 overall and handed Hackett their second loss of the season.

Hartford heartbreaker as Indians outmatched by Mendon

A slow start by Hartford gave Mendon the edge it needed to win 68-67 in overtime Thursday, January 19.

Mendon put 11 points on the board in the first period. Hartford struggled to settle into a rhythm and scored five points in the first eight minutes of the game.

CHAMBERS GETS DOUBLE-DOUBLE AND DOUBLE-TEAMED… Hartford’s Mikenzie Chambers scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Indians’ 59-33 win over Mendon Thursday night. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Indians broke out of their rut in the second period and kept pace with Mendon, as both teams scored 14 points. Mendon held a six-point lead, 25-19, at intermission.

In the third period, Hartford began to rally. The squad scored 19 points, with Mendon putting up one less. After three periods of play, Mendon’s lead was reduced by one to 43-38.

A huge 20-point fourth period put the Indians ahead by three points, but Mendon lofted – and sank – a buzzer beater three to tie the game at 58 all.

In overtime, Mendon scored 10 points, including a 3-pointer with four seconds left on the clock erasing Hartford’s lead to tally the 68-67 win.

Will Martinez led Hartford with 33 points. Aaron Sinclair scored 14 points.

Coloma bowling pins two wins to season total

The Coloma girls’ varsity bowling team faced Martin Monday, January 15 and won 30-0.

The Comet squad earned wins in both Baker matches (168-67 and 167-64) by a total of 335-131.

In regular matches, Morgan Hosbein rolled a game-high 193. She also had a 192-pin count in the second game. Hosbein rolled a 385 series.

Norelle Hickman tallied 134 and 147 games for a 281 series. Paige Burgess had a 239 series.

On Monday, January 22, the Comets improve to 9-0 on the season with a 29-1 victory over visiting Comstock.

Coloma won the Baker matches 182-110 and 110-103).

Lainey Meader led game one pin counts with 176. While Carissa Richmond had 164 and Hosbein rolled a 162.

In game two, Richmond led the way with a 202. Ashley Ikerd had a 162, while Hickmon rolled a 155.

Richmond had the high series total with 365. Meader posted a 321, while Hickmon rolled 312.

Coloma won the regular matches 1,606 to 1,155.

Marshall wins championship in 130 lb. weight class at Marcellus

The varsity grapplers of Watervliet traveled to Marcellus for the Modern Woodman Invitational Saturday, January 20.

Klayton Marshall took first place in the 130 lb. weight class.

Trever Pelton, wrestling in the 103 lb. weight class, finished in second place.

Logan Swigart (189) and Isaiah Yazel (145) earned third place finishes.

Matt Melcher (215) and Cole Hunt (heavyweight) took fourth place for Watervliet.

Coloma clips Kalamazoo Hackett 39-33

Coloma’s girls’ basketball squad sailed to a 39-33 home win over Kalamazoo Hackett Saturday, January 20.

The Comets opened the game with a 7-4 first period lead. Coloma added 12 points in the second period. The Lady Comets held Kalamazoo to five points to take a 19-9 lead into half-time.

The Coloma offense continued to shine in the third period as they drilled in 13 points. Hackett remained a half-step back and scored eight points.

Although Hackett outscored Coloma 16-7 in the fourth period, the Comets earned the 39-33 victory.

Kayla Yore led Coloma with 14 points, including the team’s only 3-pointer of the game.

Morgan Wagner scored 10 points. Megan Neubecker contributed eight points.  Hannah Mathis added four points.  Mika Anderson scored two points, and Kelsey Ellis had one.

Schoolcraft scuttles Watervliet 65-30

The Panther varsity basketball squad traveled to Schoolcraft Tuesday, January 16 and was shut down by the Eagles.

Watervliet lost 65-30 and fell to 5-3 this season.

Good ball movement by Hartford leads Indians to 71-60 win over Bloomingdale

The Indians of Hartford welcomed Bloomingdale to the basketball court Tuesday, January 16.

Bloomingdale opened scoring in the first period with an easy two-point bucket.

Hartford’s Will Martinez sank a 3-pointer to give the Indians the lead.

Bloomingdale scored another two, and then it was Brandon Galvan that drained the three.

The teams exchanged baskets for the duration of the quarter. At the end of eight minutes, Bloomingdale held a 15-11 lead.

In the second period, Hartford’s Aaron Sinclair got hot. He scored on two 3-pointers, which livened up the Indian faithful.

Bloomingdale went on a six-point run before Martinez scored two points.

At the close of the first half, Hartford trailed 29-28.

It was all Hartford in the third quarter, as the squad combined for 27 points. The Indians scored on uncontested seven-point and six-point runs. Hartford led 55-41 after three periods.

In the fourth, Bloomingdale outscored Hartford 19-16, but the Indians held on for the 71-60 victory.

Will Martinez led Hartford with 19 points. Evan Delarosa scored 13 points. Aaron Sinclair dropped in 12 points. Buddy Earls netted 11 points.

Galvan scored eight points. Garrod Johnson had six points, and Moses Beraza tallied two points.

Hartford scored 12 3-pointers during the game.

Coloma glances past Gobles 39-38

The Lady Comets of Coloma eked out a 39-38 victory over Gobles Tuesday, January 16.

Lady Panthers schooled by Schoolcraft on the basketball court

The Lady Panthers knew they would face a difficult challenge Tuesday, January 16 as they traveled to #3 ranked Schoolcraft. Although Watervliet put their best effort forward, Schoolcraft won 63-46.

The Eagles jumped out to a 20-10 lead in the first period and didn’t relinquish it. They added another 12 points in the second quarter and their defense held Watervliet in check. The Panthers scored just eight points in the second quarter. At the half, Schoolcraft held a 32-20 lead.

Watervliet outscored Schoolcraft 16-11 in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to truly threaten the Eagles.

A 20-point fourth quarter put the game away for Schoolcraft, as Watervliet’s 12 points fell short of a rally. Schoolcraft took the 63-46 win.

Ariana Rowe had a heck of a game for Watervliet. She had a double-double in the contest after scoring 19 points and snagging 11 rebounds.

Jaelyn Pitre drained 14 points.  Kara Liles, Zoe Smith, Taylor Shafer, Celina Klimkiewicz, Vicky Smith, and Emma Yazel scored two points apiece. Madalyn Hutchins scored one point.

Liles was credited with seven rebounds, while Shafer had four steals and four rebounds.  Smith and Hutchins grabbed three boards each.

Coloma soars past Gobles in 74-53 win

Coloma’s boys’ varsity basketball team continues to rack up the wins. Tuesday, January 16 found the Comets taking on a 2-4 Gobles team. Coloma cruised to a 74-53 win.

The squads held a scoring frenzy in the first period. Coloma led 17-16 after the first period. The Comet defense pressed a bit harder in the second period and limited Gobles to nine points. Coloma scored 15 and took a 32-25 lead into half-time.

The teams continued to give the scoreboard a workout in the second half of the game.

Coloma scored 26 points in the third period, while Gobles put up 15. At the end of three quarters of play, Coloma led 58-40.

The Comets added 16 points in the final quarter of the game and won 74-53.

Coloma improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play.

Zach Goodline led Coloma with 28 points including four 3-pointers; he was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting four of four.

Robbie Schroeder scored 18 points. Adam Hearn chipped in eight points. Tevon Blazier tallied seven points. Chris Brown added five.  Willie Donald scored four points. Brendan Lute and Kenny Crowder scored two points each.

The team hit five 3-pointers and shot 90% from the free throw line (nine of 10).

Hartford bashes Bloomingdale on the basketball court

What a win for the Lady Indians! Hartford topped Bloomingdale on the road Tuesday, January 16 by a score of 52-39.

The Indians burst off the bench with 18 first-quarter points. They held the Cardinals to nine points.

In the second period, Hartford added nine points and Bloomingdale tallied 12. At intermission, Hartford led 27-21.

With 10 points in the third period and 15 in the fourth, Hartford nabbed the easy 52-39 win.

AJ Jackson had another double-double as she led Hartford with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Jaelyne Galvan scored nine points, while Mikenzie Chambers chipped in eight points. Chambers also had seven rebounds and four steals.

Hartford Council for Recreation 2018 sign up

The Hartford Council for Recreation 2018 season planning is well underway.

Baseball, softball and League of Miracles sign-up will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 31 from 6-8 p.m. at Redwood Elementary in Hartford.

Also, online sign-up is available now at www.hartfordrecreation.org.

Please contact Jerrod Birmele with any questions by calling 269-208-5049 or emailing jerrod_birmele@hotmail.com.

STANDING TALL… Coloma’s competitive cheer team takes the mat and stands tall during Thursday’s meet. The SMCCC Jamboree #3 was hosted by the Comets on January 18. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Watervliet Recreation Council announces 2018 sign-up dates

Watervliet Recreation Council is holding sign-up sessions for the 2018 season as follows: Saturday, February 3, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; Saturday, February 10, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, February 13, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. in the Watervliet High School Cafeteria.

Children must be at least 5 years old by April 30, 2018 to participate. Parents/ guardians are encouraged to bring child(ren) to sign-up session to avoid future uniform issues.

Divisions, age requirements and fees are as follows:


(Child must be of minimum age as of April 30, 2018)

Instructional (7 & 8 Years old) – $60.00; Minors (9 & 10 Years old) – $60.00; Majors (11 & 12 Years old) – $60.00; Pony (13 & 14 Years old) – $70.00; Babe Ruth (14, 15 & 16 Years old) $70.00


(Child must be of minimum age as of January 1, 2018)

8U (7 & 8 Years old) – $60.00; 10U (9 & 10 Years old) – $60.00; 12U (11 & 12 Years old) – $60.00; 14U (13 & 14 Years old) – $70.00

6u Machine Pitch

(Child must be of minimum age as of April 30, 2018)

Boys & Girls (5 & 6 Years old) – $50.00

Registration forms for the 2018 season are available on the forms page of their web site (watervlietrec.com). The form may be printed, filled out and turned in at sign-ups with payment.

Make sure to visit the web site on a regular basis for all current events and dates.

For questions, contact Nikki Priebe – WRC President at 269-208-6875 or email priebenikki@gmail.com.

No late registrations will be accepted unless existing teams are not filled to capacity. There will be a $10 late fee after February 21.

AQBs Lynch, Hildebrand, Conrad pick perfect in second to last week of football

With only two games on the docket this week, the NFC and AFC championship games, there was little movement in the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback championship hunt. For the last 22 weeks, local football fans have been tasked with predicting the winners of high school, college, and professional football games. Not only have the superb six had to determine winners of games, but they have also been faced with figuring out how many points would be scored in a specially selected game known as the tie-breaker. Should the weekly record of the AQBs end in a tie, the tie—breaker game would determine the ‘backs place in the ranking. The goal was simply to predict the total number of points scored in the game. The player closest to the actual point total would earn the higher place in the ranking. In our second-to-last week of play, three AQBs picked perfectly. Rodney Lynch, Tim Hildebrand, and Bryan Conrad went 2-0 for the week, correctly predicting New England and Philadelphia victories over Jacksonville and Minnesota, respectively. Lynch took the top spot for the week; he predicted 44 points would be scored in the Jaguars/Patriots game and he was spot on. The Pats won by a score of 24-20. Conrad took second place after he predicted 46 points would be scored in the game. That left Hildebrand in third place with his 52-point prediction. RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, Greg Krell, and Chris Leach were 1-1 for the week, so their place in the rankings also came down to the tie-breaker game. Rodney-Isbrecht predicted 41 points in the game, while Krell went high with 47. Both were three points off the actual, so they tied for fourth place. Leach went with 48 points and finished in sixth place for the week. Overall, Lynch leads the pack with a 118-45 record and has the game all sewn up. However, we won’t crown him as the TCR AQB champion until the Super Bowl LII has been played. Five games behind Lynch and in second place is Rodney-Isbrecht. She holds a 113-50 record. Hildebrand holds onto third place with a 107-56 record. He is six games out of second and 11 out from first. Conrad’s 101-62 record gives him fourth place overall. He is 17 games out of first place. Krell and Leach remain knotted up in fifth place with 99-64 records. The final game in our AQB season is Philadelphia versus New England. The game will be played in Minnesota on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4 and, following its conclusion, we will have a new TCR AQB champion!


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