11-28-19 Tri-city Area Sports

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Panther winter sports season is underway

Watervliet Middle School boys basketball teams are playing and winning and the high school teams are in full-speed practices in preparation for the seasons that start in the next two weeks.

Panther Girls Basketball reloading

The Panther girls basketball team will see an influx of new faces for the 2019-2020 season after graduating eight seniors last year. They begin their season next week, and have five home games before the holiday break.

Upcoming varsity games are Tuesday, Dec. 3 vs. Berrien Springs, 7:00 p.m. at home; Thursday, Dec. 5 vs. Eau Claire, 6:30 p.m. at home; Friday, Dec. 13 vs. Fennville, 6:00 p.m. at home; Saturday, Dec. 14 vs. Hartford at home, time TBA; Thursday, Dec. 19, at Portage Northern, 7:00 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 20 vs. Gobles, 6:00 p.m. at home.

JV Schedule: Tuesday, Dec. 3 vs. Berrien Springs, 5:30 p.m. at home; Thursday, Dec. 5 vs. Eau Claire, 5:00 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 12 vs. Fennville, 5:30 p.m. at home; Saturday, Dec. 14 vs. Hartford at home, time TBA; Thursday, Dec. 19, at Portage Northern, 5:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 20 vs. Gobles, 7:30 p.m. at home.

Boys basketball starts December 10

The Panther boys basketball team will be led by Dan Hoff, who has a ton of experience leading winning basketball programs at Mattawan and Western Michigan University. Rumor has it they are learning things in new ways and Coach Hoff has put together a good group for the 2019-2020 season. Press Box will have a full preview of the team next week.

Varsity boys basketball starts their season with four home games next month: Tuesday, Dec. 10 vs. Berrien Springs, 7:00 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 13 vs. Fennville, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 14 vs. Hartford, time TBA; Friday, Dec. 20 vs. Gobles, 7:30 p.m.

JV schedule: Tuesday, Dec. 10, Berrien Springs, 5:30 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 12, Fennville, 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 14, Hartford, TBA; Friday, Dec. 20, Gobles, 6:00 p.m. All home games.

Freshmen schedule: Tuesday, Dec. 10, Berrien Springs, 4:15 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 12, Fennville, 4:15 p.m.; Wednesday, December 18, Bridgman, 4:00 p.m. All home games.

Wrestling begins December 11

Watervliet Panther wrestling team looks to earn their third straight district championship in 2020. The team is loaded with wrestlers which gives them an advantage in most dual meets. Press Box will have a full preview of the team in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, their December schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at Vicksburg; Saturday, Dec. 14 at Galesburg-Augusta Individual Tournament; Wednesday, Dec. 18 at Coloma; Saturday, Dec. 21 at South Haven Invitational; Saturday, Dec. 28 at Martin Clipper Classic Tournament

Middle School Boys Basketball

On November 14 the 8th grade White Team began the season with a 39-21 loss to Lawton. Deejay Welch led the Panthers with 8 points and 7 rebounds. Joe Coulombe had 3 points, 4 rebounds and a blocked shot. Cole Drummond, Conner Zwar, Aiden Bethea, Ian Coleman, Isaiah Howell had 2 points each.

On November 19 the 8th grade White Team lost to Fennville, 48-27. Dominick Gardner had three steals while leading the defense and scored 6 points. Deejay Welch led with 8 points. Devin Geisler scored 4, Joseph Coulombe, Aiden Bethea, Anthony Winter, and Isaiah Howell each chipped in 2 points.

On November 20 the Panther White Team lost to Niles, 30-23. Deejay Welch collected 11 rebounds and scored 6 points. Aiden Bethea had four rebounds. Joe Coulombe played good defense with six rebounds and 2 steals and led with 8 points. Ian Colman, Dominick Gardner, Anthony Winters each had two points.

The 8th grade Maroon Team opened up their season on November 21, beating Niles 61-44. Kaiden Bierhalter led all scorers with 26 points. Wyatt Epple scored 16, and Jacob Schaefer chipped in 11.

On November 23 the Maroon Team beat the host Broncos 70-19 to open the Comstock Tournament. All nine players got on the scoring end as the Panther pressure defense shut down Comstock. Kaiden Bierhalter and Wyatt Epple led the Panthers scoring while a strong defense helped the Panthers in the win.

The 8th grade White Team also traveled to Comstock. The team won 48-25 over the Comstock Colts. The Panthers played well to earn their first victory of the season. Connor Zwar had 10 points and 2 rebounds. Deejay Welch owned the paint with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Coulombe had 9 points and 5 rebounds. Anthony Winters had 6 points, 1 rebound and 1 steal. Doug Hornus had 4 points and 2 rebounds; Dominick Gardner 3 points and a steal. Devin Geisler had 3 points and a steal. Cole Drummond had 2 points and a steal. Aiden Bethea had 1 point, 2 rebounds and a steal.

In the finals, the Maroon Team beat Parchment, 51-41, to win the tournament for the second straight year. Deejay Welch dominated in the paint with a season high 12 points and 10 rebounds. Cole Drummond came off the bench to score 12 points and collect 4 rebounds. Devin Geisler had 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. Connor Zwar controlled the Panther offense with 6 points, 1 rebound and 1 steal. Joe Coulombe had 8 points and 7 rebounds. Aiden Bethea had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal. Isaiah Howell had 4 points and 2 rebounds.

Press Box Player of the Week

By Jerrod Birmele

David Fernandez, a senior at Hartford High School, and a member of the varsity football team, is this week’s Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week.

David played in the trenches all season long, playing on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Indians. While much of the attention goes to those players with stat lines, without the guys on the line, which also included Trey Goodson, Zach Harris, Yair Delgado, Tanner Kinchen and Sergio Canseco, among others, the Indians would not have achieved the success they did this season offensively. The team mustered up over 2,300 yards of total offense this season, and because of his great play, Fernandez was awarded first team all-conference honors on offense.

David also had a solid season on the defensive side of the ball and was consistently among the leaders on defense in almost every contest. In total, he had over 30 tackles for the year, making a season-high seven tackles in two different games. Other prevalent statistics include one sack, three tackles-for-a-loss and three fumble recoveries. To make a long story short, his presence on the field will be deeply missed next season, and Head Coach Brad Manning will need to rely on several returning players, along with some new athletes, to help fill the gap.

In addition to playing football, David can be found on the wrestling mat in the winter and throwing the discus and shot put for the track team in the spring. He is also a member of the Hartford Powerlifting Club. In the classroom, he carries a 3.55 grade point average, and is the senior class president.

Congratulations on this great honor, David! A big “well done” on all your accomplishments on the football field this season!

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford Football hosts annual banquet, hands out postseason awards

On Friday evening, Nov. 15, the Hartford Indian Football team gathered in the Hartford High School cafeteria to celebrate a successful 2019 season. The Indians finished with a record of 6-4, and 5-3 in Southwest 10 Conference play. Among the highlights this year were a pair of three game winning streaks, which included victories over rival Decatur and a week nine win against White Pigeon that secured the Indians 22nd playoff appearance in school history.

Despite a disappointing end to the season, which saw Hartford fall out of the playoffs in the first round, the mood was joyful as the team celebrated the accomplishments they achieved. In terms of awards, the Indians were well represented on the Southwest 10 Conference’s all-conference list. In all, eight players were selected for all-conference honors, and the honors were diverse, with the team having representation on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Senior quarterback Kyle Manning and offensive lineman David Fernandez, along with junior running back Aaron Sinclair were each awarded first team all-conference on offense, while senior offensive lineman Trey Goodson and junior wide receiver Dylan Voss achieved honorable mention all-conference honors.

On defense, Manning, from his defensive back position, was the only player to secure first team all-conference honors, while senior Yair Delgado, a defensive lineman and Sinclair, a defensive back, each earned second team all-conference honors. Two more Indians, junior Ricky Baker, a linebacker and sophomore Tanner Kinchen, a defensive lineman, received honorable mention all-conference.

Congratulations to these exemplary student-athletes, and to all the football coaches and players, for their achievements all season long!

Hartford volleyball team honored at annual banquet

On Monday afternoon, Nov. 18, the Hartford Indian Volleyball team came together in the Hartford High School Library to look back on their 2019 season. It was a somewhat rough season for the ladies this year, with the team finishing with a record of 11-35, but that does not take away from the fact they played as a group and never gave up in any match.

Among the notable accomplishments this season was a win against Bloomingdale in the district semifinals, which allowed the team to play for a district championship one night later, a match in which they fell to Gobles in straight sets.

Despite the fact they still had that bitter taste of being oh so close to a trophy, the mood was still upbeat as the ladies were honored with the presentation of team and conference awards. In terms of awards given by the Southwest 10 Conference, only two ladies were selected to receive those honors this season. There were several other players who should’ve been in the conversation to receive all-conference, but selections are determined by the team finish in the conference standings. Hartford placed near the bottom of the order, and thus, the lack of selections.

Head Coach Patty Matheny was excited to announce that senior Megan Nelson and sophomore Alexis Snodgrass were each awarded honorable mention all-conference honors. On a much bigger note, the entire team was honored for their dedication in the classroom by receiving academic all-state honors from the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA). The MIVCA honors 250 teams yearly with the prestigious award, which is given to schools in which their volleyball teams carry a 3.30 grade point average or above. Well done, ladies!

Congratulations to these fine student-athletes, and to the coaching staff, for their achievements on and off the court this season!

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma welcomes Curtis McFall as new Comet boys basketball head coach

Coloma Comet Athletic Director Wendy Goodline had the unenviable task of having to pursue a new head basketball coach for the boy’s team, when Coach Paul Marfia suddenly stepped down last spring. Coach Marfia decided that he wanted to spend more time with his family. His four young daughters are getting to the age where they will be competing in some athletic and school sponsored activities and Marfia realizes the importance of these years for his kids as they go by very quickly. Coach Marfia leaves the coaching ranks with a 71-57 record at Coloma and an overall record of 241-211, according to MHSAA records, in his 21 years as a varsity head coach.

On May 31, 2019 Goodline announced that Coloma had hired Curtis McFall to take over the Coloma boys basketball program. She said that she feels he is a great fit for the Comets, and is excited for him coming to Coloma. Curtis comes with a great wealth of basketball knowledge, and of life. Although Curtis hails from right next door in Benton Harbor, he has done a great deal of traveling to pursue his passion of basketball.

Curtis is a 1998 graduate of Benton Harbor, where he was a star on the basketball court. Following high school he went on to play at Southeastern Junior College in Iowa, where he helped them win the 2000 NJCAA Division 1 national championship. Curtis moved up from there to Wichita State University and played under head coach Mark Turgeon, a highly successful collegiate coach who is now leading the Maryland Terrapins program. Curtis also played professionally overseas, mostly for several teams in Germany.

Curtis brings about seven years of coaching experience at the freshman, JV and assistant varsity level at Benton Harbor. There he was an assistant and helped the Tigers win the 2017-18 state class B championship. He knows the Comet team very well as they have played BH several times recently.

Outside of coaching, he was recently hired as a prevention specialist at the Berrien County Health Department. Curtis and his wife Jessica have been married for 4 years, and have three daughters, ages 4, 3, and 1.

Coloma boys have had a 34-8 record over the last two seasons, but lost their all-state, sharp shooting, 2,000-point scoring, point guard, Zach Goodline, who has graduated and now playing college ball at Oakland University.

Coach McFall believes that any basketball program needs to be built in the off season, and was a little disappointed in the low turnout this summer. But they did gain some experience and knowledge of their new coach as they held several practices and scrimmages with those players who did come out.

The Comets do return several players with experience in Michael Dancer, Isaiah Reinhardt, and Drew Goodline, being the most notable. Dancer, a returning starter who is very athletic and can run the court and jump. Reinhardt played a lot of minutes for the Comets last year, and attended an Indiana summer basketball camp where he competed very well in improving his skills. Drew Goodline also comes back after being a starter as a sophomore. Drew will most likely run the Comet offense from the point guard position, and continue to knock down 3-pointers for the Comets. He appears to be completely healed from a shoulder injury he sustained during the varsity football season.

Rounding out the Comet roster will be Amir Hall, Stacey Branscumb, Kenyon Eddie, Brendon Jacobs, Karon Smith, Shawn Dryer, Noah Schwanke, Jake Ickes, Ethan Vandermolen, Timmy Schroeder, and Grady Lauderdale.

The Comets play their first game of the season on December 10 at home against Buchanan.

Coloma girls basketball team excited to get new season underway

The Coloma Comet girls head basketball coach Kim Swisher says that she and her team are excited and ready to get this new season underway. One cause for excitement for Coach Swisher is the fact that she has six seniors coming back this season. That includes two players who were all conference selections following last season, Megan Neubecker was a first teamer and Megan Koenigshof was honorable mention all division in the SAC.

The other four returning seniors are Marissa Sherburn who is developing into a fine 3-point shooter and rebounder, Kelsey Ellis, Vanessa Crisenbery, and Amaria Echols. Juniors on the team will be Mia Cole who played last year, and Abby Vandermolen who comes back this year after having to sit out last season because of an injury.

Coach Swisher has four sophomores who round out her team. Taylor Brown, Adian Allmon, Addy Kimmerly, and Ayla Bounds will be expected to not only add depth to the bench but be competitive when called on to take the court.

Most of the girls came out and participated during the summer practices and scrimmages, and had to step up as neither of the Megan’s were available to play this summer, and that should help them in the long run. Coach Swisher says that she believes she has a deeper bench this year, and her overall team speed should work to their advantage.

Coloma held a scrimmage at home on November 21 against Lakeshore, and they looked improved over last year. They need some work on their interior defense, as they defended well on the perimeter but when the Lancers got the ball in the paint they scored rather easily. Other than that the Comets looked good and held their own. They shot the ball with more confidence, ran their offense effectively and rebounded on the offensive end, and showed a lot of hustle. Particularly noticeable was Megan Koenigshof who didn’t care if it was just a scrimmage, she was always going all out and diving around for loose balls like it was the middle of the season.

The girls start the season a week ahead of the boys. Their first game will be on December 3 at Brandywine, which will be a stiff early test for the Comets.

Pair of Comets earns All State recognition

A pair of Coloma Comet standout athletes is also excelling in the classroom. Marissa Sherburn and Megan Neubecker were recently named to the All State Academic Team. Congratulations Marissa and Megan on this outstanding accomplishment.

All AQBs remain red hot, Hildebrand pulls to within 2 of top spot

By Dave Vollrath

From the time the picks for last week’s games were posted it was clear that there was going to be very little movement among our leaders. All of our ‘backs had their crystal balls tuned into the same wave length, as no one really was willing to take a chance on an underdog to pull off an upset. When the dust had cleared following the collegiate game, there were no upsets in the games and all of the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterbacks were a perfect 5-0 on Saturday.

Ohio State vs. Penn State started out looking like the Buckeyes were going to run all over and away from the Nittany Lions. A fumble on the one yard line slowed that momentum down a bit, and the Lions pulled within a touchdown in the second half. They could get no closer, and Ohio State won by 11.

The Sunday games however, where Tim was the only one of our panelists who picked Washington to upset the Lions, were where Tim was able to make some hay. The Redskins won their second game of the year, and their first home win since October 21 of 2018. They defeated the lowly Lions, who are sinking faster than the Titanic in earning their fourth straight loss. With that pick Tim was able to complete an 8-0 perfect week of picking. He moves within 2 points of first place, where Rodney Lynch has resided for most of the year.

Rodney, Kathy Summers, RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, and Dan Jones were all a fantastic 7-1 for the week, and Greg Krell was a very respectable 6-2, but still loses ground to the field.

The TCR AQB competition is held weekly from the beginning of the high school football season in late summer, until it finishes with the playing of the Super Bowl in February. There are six Tri-City Area football fans competing against each other to predict the winners of a group of pre selected games from the high school, collegiate, and professional ranks. Following the conclusion of the Super Bowl, one winner is crowned champion and will have the honor of wearing the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback Championship hat.

In the event that two or more ‘backs have the same record for the week, or the yearly total, their place in the standings will be determined by a weekly tiebreaker game. In addition to trying to correctly pick the winners of each week’s games, they predict the score from a specially selected game. The AQB whom comes the closest to the total number of points scored by both teams will get the higher spot in the standings.

Tim’s perfect week also breaks the tie he had with RoxAnn, and currently owns second place by himself. RoxAnn is in third place, one point behind Tim. Kathy remains in 4th place, but only 1 point behind RoxAnn, and still just 4 points from first place. Dan Jones remains in fifth, but stays in touch with the group. Greg remains in the basement and the stairs are now on fire, and he will need help from fire chief Dan to get out of there.

The weekly honors of course go to Tim’s 8-0, and Rodney gets second based on the tiebreaker where he only missed the target score by one point. Dan gets 3rd for the week with Kathy landing in 4th, RoxAnn 5th, and Greg, well, he just can’t get a break.

Things are still very tight among our pigskin prognosticators so be sure and check back next week to see what turkeys may result from this week’s selection of games. Michigan plays at home against that team from down south. Our football forecasters wish you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Ohio vs. Michigan (Go Blue)

Notre Dame vs. Stanford

Maryland vs. MSU

Alabama vs. Auburn

Cincinnati vs. Memphis (tiebreaker)

Bears vs. Lions

Browns vs. Steelers

Patriots vs. Texans


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