03-12-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Girls basketball season ends in Districts

The Lady Panther basketball team finished a rebuilding season with a valiant effort against Brandywine on Wednesday, March 4 in Cassopolis. The top-seeded Bobcats beat Bangor 61-15 in the opening round of the tournament before facing the Panthers. As a side note the MHSAA is now seeding the district basketball tournaments for the first and second teams. But they didn’t finish the job, which would normally include giving byes to the top teams as is typical in virtually all bracketing systems. This resulted in oddities like unseeded Watervliet getting a bye and 1-seed Brandywine playing an extra game. Hopefully the MHSAA fixes all of this next year.

SOPHOMORE…Myah Hobson looks for the jumper to go in, in round one of District play for the Lady Panthers. Watervliet played top seeded Brandywine Bobcats in Cassopolis last week loosing 61-15 to the Bobcats. (Gloria Reeves photo)

Brandywine beat the Panthers, 55-24. The Lady Panther defense played well enough to keep the game somewhat close in the first half, but the potent Brandywine offense proved to be too much to handle. The girls found themselves down 8-2 at the end of the first quarter, a decent start against such a strong team. Sophomore Madison Saunders, finishing up her second year on the varsity team, had the only basket in the quarter. Brandywine kept up the pressure in the second quarter, outscoring the Panthers 16-11 to take a modest 24-13 lead into halftime. Unfortunately the Bobcats turned up their defense in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 16-2 to take a 40-15 lead into the final quarter. Overall the Bobcats forced the Panthers into 33 turnovers on the night and it’s hard to win with that stat in your book.

Samantha Dietz led the scoring with 10 points, while going 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Point guard Madison “MJ” Flowers scored eight points. Saunders scored four points, and Addison Riley chipped in a pair of free throws for two points.

The Bobcats took on 2-seed Decatur in the District 77 finals where they handily beat the Raiders 73-25 to claim the district championship. The 22-1 Bobcats will take on 19-4 Kalamazoo Hackett Christian in pre-regional play for a chance to face the winner of a matchup between 19-3 Gobles and 20-2 Schoolcraft on Thursday night. This should be a great regional tournament between four very good teams.

Coach Ken Dietz gave a big thanks to his seniors, Alexis Worley and Serena Reyna. Both played key roles on the team this season as they closed out their basketball careers at Watervliet. The Lady Panthers finish the season at 5-16.

Panther wrestlers compete at Ford Field

The MHSAA state final wrestling tournament was held last weekend at Ford Field in Detroit. Eighty-seven wrestlers competed in 14 weight classes in Division 3, including Trever Pelton at 112 pounds and Don Smith at 189 pounds.

Trever lost his first-round match to 40-7 Luke Sherman of Millington, 8-1. In his second match he pinned Ian Boden of Howard City at 4:58. That gave him an unfortunate matchup against top-ranked Kaden Chinavare from the powerhouse Dundee program. Chinavare won the match 13-1 to knock Pelton out of the tournament, and then won three more matches to take a third place medal. Dundee’s wrestlers took first place in seven of 14 weight classes, plus a pair of second places. They also ran away with the Division 3 team championship a week prior.

Trever closes out his wrestling career at Watervliet with a 41-7 senior season.

In his first match Don faced the eventual second-place medalist, Noah Motanari of Richmond. He wrestled Noah point for point, taking a 1-1 match into overtime. The first overtime ended 2-2, leading them into a sudden-victory situation. So far in t