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01-31-2019 Tri-City Area Sports

Panther Wrestlers compete at Greater Berrien County Invitational

The Watervliet wrestlers, along with 18 other teams from the area, gathered at the St. Joseph High School Fieldhouse for the 40th annual Greater Berrien County Invitational meet on Saturday, Jan. 26. At this meet the smaller schools learn just how good they are, going up against wrestling powerhouses like Niles, Lakeshore, Edwardsburg and Dowagiac.

Given the strength of the field, the Panthers represented Watervliet well, finishing in 12th place with 55 points.

A MIGHTY HEAVE… Celina Klimkiewicz, a senior on the Watervliet varsity girls’ basketball squad, heaves the ball toward the bucket Friday evening as the first period closed out against Fennville. Fennville topped Watervliet 44-33. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Trever Pelton (29-6) won his first two matches to earn a spot in the 112-pound championship, but an injury suffered in his first match caused him to decide not to risk his health with the state tournaments coming in a couple weeks, and withdrew from the finals’ match. Pelton took a second-place medal, best of all the Panthers.

Matt Melcher (27-2), wrestling at 215 pounds, beat Niles’ Tysen Custard 9-2, then lost to a very good Zeke Rohl from Lakeshore to earn a spot in the 3rd-place match. His finals opponent was injured, and Melcher was awarded 3rd place.

Alex Isbrecht (26-10) won his first match with a pin at 1:28. He lost then won another match to qualify for the fifth place match. He was losing the entire match, but the clock ran out on his furious finish against Niles’ Terris Frick, who won 3-2. Isbrecht finished sixth place in the 125-pound class.

Don Smith (9-6), wrestling at 189, beat wrestlers from St Joseph and Constantine to qualify for the fifth-place match. He lost that match, earning a sixth-place medal.

Their next meet is the SAC Championship on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Coloma.

Lady Panthers lose to Fennville 44-34

 The Panther girls’ basketball team hosted the Fennville Blackhawks on Friday, Jan. 25. The Lady Panthers struggled to score in the first three quarters, eventually losing the game 44-34.

HIGH FLYING PANTHER… Watervliet’s JayShawn Scruggs climbs high over his Fennville Blackhawks opponents Friday evening to grab an offensive rebound. A slow start doomed the Panthers as they lost 63-46, despite scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Panthers drop to 0-6 in the SAC Lakeshore conference and 2-8 overall. Fennville improves to 2-3 in the conference. Martin (4-1) and Gobles (4-0) are the Lakeshore Division leaders.

The team played good defense throughout the game and made the Blackhawks earn their points. On the opposite side of the ball the situation wasn’t so good. The Panthers’ shooting hands went cold as they struggled to make baskets, scoring on just two three-pointers by Celina Klimkiewicz and a single free throw by Victoria Smith in the first half.

Starting center Elaine Koshar picked up two quick fouls, which kept their top scorer on the bench for 14 of the half’s 16 minutes. Turnovers were also a problem, with several errant and intercepted passes. The teams headed to the locker room with a 17-7 score.

The Lady Panthers played much better in the second half, tying Fennville with 27 points but they were unable to overcome that first half deficit despite scoring 18 in the final quarter.

Celina led the team with 11 points. Koshar was dominant in the paint, hitting five baskets for 10 points, all in the second half. From there Emma Yazel, Smith, and Sabrina Klimkiewicz each hit a three-pointer and Ally Pazera scored one.

The girls’ next game is Friday, Feb. 1, when they host the 9-0 Gobles Tigers.

Panther boys’ basketball takes on Fennville

The Panther boys faced the Fennville Blackhawks in the Friday nightcap on Jan. 25. The game mimicked the earlier girls’ game, with the boys struggling to score early then coming on strong in the final quarter.

The first quarter shooting was a head-scratcher as the boys failed to score in the first quarter, missing on all of their outside shots and two free throws. The Blackhawks had no such trouble, sinking four three-pointers while jumping out to a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

From there the Panthers outscored Fennville 46-43, but were unable to get close and lost the game 63-46. The Panthers are now 1-5 in the conference and 1-11 overall.

The boys saved their best scoring for the fourth quarter, putting up 24 points against Fennville’s 15.

Leading the scoring was sophomore guard Kade VanNeil, with six points on three baskets and five free throws. Sophomore Kenny Russell hit a couple three-pointers and two baskets for 10 points. Danaveon Gilbert hit a pair of three-pointers on his way to eight points. Freshman Andrew Chisek scored six points, JayShawn Scruggs scored four, and Omar Cardoso scored three points. Austin Roberts scored two points, and Cole Pline and Dylan Lawson each hit a single free throw.

Their next game is home against the 5-6 Gobles Tigers on Friday, Feb. 1. It is Winterfest for the Watervliet Panthers.

This past week in Hartford sports was expected to be a busy one, as the calendar featured nine different competitions, games and meets. However, ole’ man winter made his presence felt across Southwest Michigan, and student-athletes were dealt with several blows. The most significant blows were the cancellation or postponement of a majority of athletic contests throughout the week, as ice, then rain, and then snow, blanketed the area. However, some athletic events were contested, and here are some results!

Hartford boys’ basketball moves to 10-1 after Bangor rout

The Hartford Indian Boys Basketball team returned to action last week after having scored two victories in the previous week, moving their record to 9-1 on the season. After those two victories, the team remained tied for first place in the Southwest 10 Conference with rival Cassopolis. With the schedule altered due to weather, the Indians played in just one game over seven days: a home game against Bangor, which happened to be Winterfest in Hartford.

In Friday night’s game against Bangor, Hartford stormed out to a big lead and never looked back, scoring an 85-56 victory over the Vikings. The visiting team scored the first three points of the game. The Indians quickly put the game to rest scoring the next 30 points courtesy of a mix of hot shooting from both inside and outside and a stifling defense that hasn’t been seen in several games. The result was Hartford outscoring Bangor, 30-4, in the opening eight minutes.

The second quarter was much closer on the scoreboard, but at one point in the frame, Hartford built their lead to a game-high 38 points. At 49-11, the Indians began to get some key playing time for everyone on their bench. The Vikings began to chip away at the lead, and made a run. However, courtesy of their lights out shooting early, the Indians still took the quarter by three points, 19-16, and extended their halftime lead to 49-20.

The second half was much more equal, as both teams were able to muster 36 points each.

The third quarter continued to see Hartford dominate on offense and defense and build a big lead. With that, the Indian starting five was able to take a break and allow more playing time for their teammates. The Vikings took a little steam out of the Indian lead late in the quarter but Hartford still outscored Bangor 19-15 in the third stanza to extend their lead to 68-35.

The fourth quarter was the only frame where the Vikings would outscore the Indians, with the visiting team winning the frame, 21-17.

Hartford was led by a trio of double-digit scorers that would end up scoring 62 of the teams’ 85 points. The Indians had a pair of scorers put up 24 points in Trey Ackerman and Brandon Galvan. Ackerman’s night featured six two-point makes and two three-point baskets, while Galvan hit eight three-pointers, and was 7-for-7 from downtown in the first half.

Aaron Sinclair was the other scorer in double figures, scoring 18 points in the victory. When all was said and done, eleven different players scored for the green and white.

Those players also scoring for the Indians were Moses Beraza (4 points), Jose Villalobos (3 points), Elijah Ledesma (2 points), Xavier Salinas (2 points), Elijah Rodarte (2 points), Evan De La Rosa (2 points), Anthony Rodarte (2 points) and John Burfield II (2 points). Hartford finished the game having made 16 two-point baskets, 14 three-point baskets and shot 11-for-13, or nearly 85 percent, from the charity stripe.

Hartford is now 10-1 on the season, and currently holds a 9-1 record in Southwest 10 Conference play.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, they hosted Mendon at Indian Gymnasium, where it will be Senior Night, as Hartford will honor all of its senior athletes. The team will then travel to Marcellus on Friday, Feb. 1, for a game against the Wildcats. Check out next week’s Press Box to find out how they did!

Hartford girls’ basketball back above .500 with home victory

The Hartford Indian Girls Basketball team came into play last week off of a significant mid-season slump. The Lady Indians had been defeated in three straight games by an average of 13 points. The team, sitting right at the .500 mark coming into play, had just one chance to take their talents to the court last week. They played in a conference matchup against Bangor, a team sitting just two games below them in the Southwest 10 Conference standings.

A-GAME BY ALEXIS… Hartford varsity basketball player Alexis Snodgrass, a freshman, goes up for a jumper over Bangor’s Amara Littlefield Friday night. Snodgrass’ effort in the Winterfest matchup contributed to the 49-33 Indian victory. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

In Friday night’s game against Bangor, Hartford led from start to finish and got back on the winning track courtesy of a 49-33 victory over the Vikings. The first quarter saw Hartford take advantage of their size, with the Indians getting a few buckets in the post and forcing the Lady Vikings into fouls, ensuring frequent free-throw line visits.

The defense also showed up, with the ladies forcing Bangor into turnovers and several tough shots. When the horn sounded, the Lady Indians had taken the first stanza, 14-5.

The second quarter was played pretty evenly from start-to-finish, as both teams played solid defense, and baskets became few and far between. In a low-scoring second frame, Hartford came out on top but the advantage was just one, at 9-8. That meant the Lady Indians led the game at the half, 23-13.

The second half began with the Lady Indians opening the game up in the third quarter. Hartford outscored Bangor, 16-7. The Lady Indians instituted a full-court press that gave Bangor a plethora of problems, most notably turning the ball over.

Hartford had their highest scoring quarter of the game, courtesy of a mixture of inside and outside shots. In all, Hartford made seven baskets (five two-pointers and two three-pointers) to open their lead up to 39-20 with eight minutes left. As the fourth quarter began, Hartford was able to be flexible and began using their bench more often.

Meanwhile, the Lady Indians began to look inside more, finding basket-after-basket in the post. Bangor managed to outscore Hartford, however, 13-10. In the final stanza, the Lady Indian lead was far too big for the Lady Vikings to overcome.

Hartford was paced by a trio of double-digit scorers, including a pair of 14-point games from Alexis Snodgrass and Mikenzie Chambers. Snodgrass, a freshman, was making her first career varsity start in this game and made a big impression with Head Coach Kailee Friday, after adding eight rebounds and five blocks to her stat line. Meanwhile, Chambers continued giving the Indians consistency on the low block, with the senior putting up eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

Jaelyne Galvan was the final Indian scorer in double-digits, with 10 points, while Nautica Covington scored just four points, but added six rebounds, four assists and four steals in the victory.

Also scoring for the Lady Indians were Megan Nelson (3 points), Abby Rodriguez (2 points) and Vanessa De La Rosa (2 points). Hartford finished the game having made 15 two-point baskets, four three-point baskets and shot 7-for-12, or 58 percent, from the free-throw line.

Hartford is now 5-4 on the season, and improved their record to 5-3 in Southwest 10 Conference play. The team, like their male counterparts, will play in a pair of conference games this week. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, the Lady Indians hosted Mendon inside Indian Gymnasium for Senior Night, before hitting the road on Friday, Feb. 1, as they travel to Marcellus to take on the Lady ‘Cats.

Hartford Competitive Cheerleading competes on local stage

The Hartford Indian Competitive Cheerleading team returned to the mats for a pair of competitions last week. The continued emphasis has been putting improvement at the forefront. The team has been improving with every competition, as evidenced by their highest scores of the season in the past several events. And, as the team nears full strength in the weeks ahead, fans can expect even higher scores from these superb young ladies. In Monday, Jan. 21 competition at the Coloma Invitational, Hartford placed 8th out of nine teams with a total score of 522.90 points. However, the final result of eighth place is just a bit misleading.

The team finished round one with 180.1 points, and that came with a zero penalty point hit to their score. The second round saw the team put together a decent routine, scoring 160.4 points; however, the ladies were deducted 18 points in penalties during the round for performing with just five ladies on the mat and other routine issues, ending the round with a score of 142.4 points.

The third round, which is the highest scoring round of a competition, saw the team score 200.4 points, which came with zero penalty points. All in all, it was not the teams’ season best, but a solid performance none-the-less.

Hartford’s Competitive Cheerleading team will return to the mat for two competitions in this week. On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the team participated in the third Southwest Michigan Competitive Cheer Conference meet of the season, which was rescheduled from last week, at Delton Kellogg. And over the weekend, on Saturday, Feb. 2, the team will take part in the SMCCC Conference Finals, which will be held at Schoolcraft.

Mother Nature takes control and puts all Coloma sports on hold, even wrestling but only for one day

One day not long ago I was looking at some comments on social media. I saw a couple of wrestling mothers asking about a scheduled match the next day. A comment that caught my eye was one of the wrestling mothers, with the most experience, stated that wrestling is never canceled because of the weather.

Well as Mother Nature was wreaking havoc on all of Coloma sports last week, winter has settled in and smacked us right upside the head. Bowling was canceled Monday and Wednesday, and basketball was canceled on Tuesday. Then last Wednesday when the first home wrestling match was scheduled to be held in the Coloma Comet gym against our neighborhood rival Watervliet Panthers, even the wrestling match had to be canceled because there was no school that day.

Again Friday night, both Coloma varsity basketball games were canceled but Saturday Mother Nature gave us a little bit of a break. Wrestling took place as the Greater Berrien County Wrestling Invitational was held in the St. Joe gymnasium as it has for almost forty years, the exception being 2014 when this event was canceled because of a blizzard.

I was certainly excited to know they were actually wrestling that day, and went to see this wrestling extravaganza which I had heard and read about for many years. Our Comet team which has several wrestlers having outstanding years, and careers, would hit the mat and see how they would match up against some of the finest wrestling teams in the state.

Overall the team competition was dominated by Niles, who has won this event six of the last seven years. Lakeshore came in second place, a team that has also dominated in this event over the years. The Comets entered the final round in a very respectable 6th place, but was passed up in the end by Constantine and ended up in 7th place. It was still very respectable for a meet that had 19 total teams wrestling.

The Coloma Comets who finished very well were Ian Ishmael in second place at 140 pounds, Cody Reese also finished 2nd at 145 pounds. Caeleb Ishmael finished in 3rd, wrestling in the 103 pound weight class. Cole Alsup also 3rd, at the other end of the weights at 285, and finally Michael Case finished in 6th place at 152.

Caeleb Ishmael, the Comet freshman sensation, started the day like many with a first round bye. His first match was a win over Jordan Simpson of Dowagiac by a 4-0 score. Next up Caeleb faced Cam Litaker of Lakeshore, and lost a closely fought match by a score of 4-3. Litaker went on to finish second on the day. In the final match Caeleb defeated Jack Sherman of St. Joe, dominating most of the match, and winning 6-0 for his 3rd place finish.

Ian Ishmael at 140 pounds, the Coloma Comet junior, in his first match of the day wrestled Sam Prince of Lakeshore and won by pin at 4:58. Ian won his next match, against a tough opponent in Connor Tibbetts of Niles, by a score of 4-0. In the finals, Ian made a very fine showing for himself, but lost a very physical match to Landon VanWyk by a final count of 9-7.

Cody Reese the 145 pound Comet senior, also had a great day in finishing in second place. Cody beat Denny White of Dowagiac in a TF at 2:08. Cody then pinned Dan Vaughn of Lakeshore in 3:19. In the championship match Cody lost by a 17-9 score to Kade Wagley of Niles.

At 152 pounds Michael Case finished in 6th place and started with a 5-0 win over David Powell of Benton Harbor. Next Michael lost by pin at 3:38 to Robert Buckland of Niles, but came back to defeat Galen Stahl by pin at 3:00, and then a 9-2 decision over Coloma’s Alec DeLaTorre. Michael was defeated in the final round by Matt Morris of St. Joe.

In the 285-pound division, Cole Alsup began the day with a pin at 1:03 over his teammate in Travis Bore. Cole next lost in a match to Wyatt Bailey of Dowagiac in a fall at 1:20. Bailey went on to finish in second place on the day. In the 3rd place match Cole easily defeated Charles Taylor of Constantine, with a pin at 1:55. This match was pretty much over early as Cole came down hard on Taylor, and looked to have the wind knocked out of him. After the referee called time out, Cole took him out soon after that.

Coloma Comet hoops teams and bowling on hold because of weather

The Coloma Comet varsity boys and girls basketball teams have now had multiple games postponed because of this arctic blast of weather the area has been experiencing. Also on hold is Zach Goodlines’s quest for 2,000 points for his career.

Zach, who went over the 1,900 career point mark in his last game, is averaging just under 30 points a game this season. He should pass the 2,000 point mark in the next few games. They could possibly be back on the court this Friday at Fennville.

When the hoops teams finally do get back to business, the Comet boys find themselves currently tied for first place in the Lakeshore Division of the SAC, with a 4-1 record, the same as Martin. The Comet boys overall boast a record of 7-4.

The girls find themselves tied for third place in the Lakeshore with a 2-3 record. They are tied with Saugatuck. The Lady Comets have an overall mark of 3-6.

The Coloma Comet lady bowlers were again cancelled on Monday the 28th, and have a great record of 10-0 when they get back on the lanes.

Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week is Watervliet’s Matt Melcher.

Matt is a senior captain on the Watervliet wrestling team, and recently joined the exclusive 100-win club. For his career he currently sits at 103-37, with more than 60 of those wins coming on pins. That’s especially impressive considering he had no previous wrestling experience prior to high school. His fastest pin is in just seven seconds.

Matt is currently at 27-2 and is poised to make a run at the 215-pound Division 4 state championship, which is his goal for the season.

Coach Joe Isbrecht says, “Matt is a great leader on and off the mat. He’s one of the hardest-working kids you will meet, and a great leader for the younger guys to look up to.”

Matt says his assistant coach Dan Isbrecht often sends him motivational messages, the most recent being “How bad do you want to be a champion? How much extra are you willing to do to achieve that goal?” It’s that motivation that will make him the #1 seed at the SAC tournament and probably at districts, too.

All wrestling matches start and end with a handshake, and after the first one Matt is watching his opponent’s stance to determine if he’s going to shoot at his legs right away. But his mind is blank while waiting for the referee’s whistle. From there, it’s bad news for his opponent.

Matt is an excellent student and plans to continue his wrestling career after graduation, most likely at Davenport University.

Congratulations, Matt!


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