11-29-18 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath


Previewing the Coloma Comet Girls Basketball season for 2018-2019

The Coloma Comet girls’ basketball team has begun practicing and preparing for the upcoming season for about two weeks now, under the leadership of new head coach Kim Gear. The Comet head coach should be familiar to most in the area, as she was born and raised in Bainbridge Township, and went to school in Watervliet, excelling in volleyball and track, in addition to earning All State honorable mention honors in basketball for her efforts playing for the Panthers in her junior and senior seasons. Kim also went on to play basketball and volleyball at the collegiate level, for Kalamazoo Valley, and Wayne State University.

Gear is also very familiar to this year’s varsity team, as she has spent the last two years as the Comet junior varsity coach.

AWESOME AUSTIN! Coloma varsity soccer star Austin Russell had his hands full Sunday evening following the team’s awards banquet. The junior was voted the team Most Valuable Player. He also took home the Best Defender award and received All Conference Honorable Mention honors from the SAC.


Coach Gear states, “This is my first year as varsity head coach, as I have spent the last two years coaching the junior varsity.” She is very much looking forward to working with this group of players, and believes that there are many things that they can accomplish. Coach Gear goes on to say, “This group has a great deal of potential, and is gifted with an abundance of speed.”

With only two starters returning to the Coloma team that finished last season with an overall record of 13-8, and a 5-3 league mark, she tempers her enthusiasm somewhat by stating that, “We are starting out with small goals, by first trying to win our (conference) division this year.”

Returning starters from the Comet team are senior Hannah Mathis, who plays at the guard and forward positions, along with Megan Neubecker, a junior who will be playing in the post, and who started last year as a sophomore. Joining those two from last year’s team are senior forward Phoebe Brown, and juniors, Marissa Sherburn playing at the forward position, Kelsey Ellis also a forward, and Megan Koenigshof who will be running the show as the point guard.

The juniors who will be making the jump up from the junior varsity squad are, Amaria Echols who will be playing as a forward, and Vanessa Crisenberry, who was the starting point guard and leading scorer for that JV team. Mia Cole is a sophomore who also played at the point for the JVs and was the second leading scorer, and rounding out the team is a freshman by the name of Breana Tillotson.

The Comets will be starting their season on the road by facing an old Lakeland Conference foe in the Buchanan Bucks, next Monday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. The Comets will also be facing a formidable non conference schedule that includes, perennial girls’ basketball power Niles-Brandywine, Bridgman, Benton Harbor, South Haven, and Dowagiac.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore Division teams that will be challenging the Comets this year, include Watervliet, Fennville, Gobles, Martin, Saugatuck, and Lawrence. Also in the SAC are Constantine, Delton Kellogg, Galesburg Augusta, Kalamazoo Christian, Kalamazoo Hackett, Lawton, and Schoolcraft.

We wish the best of luck to Coach Gear and her Comet team, as she begins to build a program that will be winning for years come.

Previewing the Coloma Comet Boys Bowling 2018-2019

The Coloma Comet boys’ bowling team begins the new season with a well stocked and well balanced roster with six freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and three seniors. The Comet team is being coached this year by Sharon Ball, who also teaches 5th grade at the Coloma Intermediate School. Last year, the team finished at 12-6 and was 3rd in the conference. Because of the numbers Coach Ball states that, “…we will have a JV team this year for the boys. I expect us to improve our record and place higher in the tournaments we participate in. I think we will have some individuals qualify for state and I believe the team has the potential to also qualify for the state tournament.”

Last year Damian Gomez and Charles Cullitan were All Conference bowlers.

SAWYER NETS MIP SOCCER AWARD… Devin Sawyer, a freshman on the Coloma varsity soccer squad, was named the team’s Most Improved Player during their awards banquet Sunday evening.


The roster is made up of freshmen Riley Davis, Michael DeRosa, Chris Eastman, Eric Gomez, Jonathon Swetay, and Jackson Winfield; sophomores, Ben Reynolds, Ryan Wilson, and Noah Blankenship; juniors, Charles Cullitan, Damian Gomez, Cameron Needham, and Nicholas Santarlas; seniors, Jason Ridge, Jarrod Beshires, and Christian McDonald. The Comets returning in addition to Gomez and Cullitan are Blankenship, Needham, Santarlas, Ridge, and McDonald.

Best of luck to Coach Ball and her Comets as they hit the lanes!

Edwardsburg Eddies win State Championship

The Edwardsburg Eddies defeated Chelsea 28-7 last Friday at Ford Field to win the Division 4 State Football Championship, the first in the Eddie program’s history. They finish the season at 14-0. Congratulations to the Eddies for bringing back the trophy to our corner of the state!

Correction and apologies

I would like to correct an error made in the Comet Wrestling Preview from the Tri-City Record November 15 issue. Caleb Ishmael was misidentified as Ian, Caleb is Ian’s brother. Caleb is a freshman wrestler this year and should have a very positive impact on the team; even for a young wrestler he has plenty of experience from the junior programs.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele


Well, the snow has arrived in our little corner of Southwest Michigan, so it must mean it’s time for the athletes of Hartford to begin competing in some winter athletic contests! But, before the competitions and games begin, we need to take a small peek ahead first. So, over the next two weeks, this column will be dedicated to giving readers an in-depth look at the Indian teams that will be competing on the courts and mats this year and how our teams shape up.

Hartford Boys Basketball poised for breakout season

For the past few weeks, the Hartford Boys Basketball team has been hitting the courts hard, preparing for the season ahead. The Indians are coming off a 2017-2018 season, in which the team finished right at the .500 mark in both overall record and conference play. When the basketball jerseys were put away one last time, they had finished at 11-11 overall and 9-9 in Southwest 10 Conference action, which placed them in a tie with Centreville and Decatur for fifth place in the league. The team went on to win their first game of districts at New Buffalo, before falling to Niles Brandywine in the district semifinals.

ALL CONFERENCE COMETS… Kelsey Ellis (left) and Megan Neubecker were recently honored for their work on the volleyball court this season. At the team’s banquet, Coloma head coach Kim Gear presented Ellis with an All-Conference Honorable Mention award, while Neubecker was selected as First Team as well as Coloma’s MVP.


Despite losing a number of seniors to graduation, including two members of the starting five for much of last season, there is reason for optimism looking ahead to this year’s campaign. Head Coach John Johnson is back for his fifth season at the reigns and possesses a plethora of athletes that could stand out on his team this season.

The Indian backcourt will be led this season by senior Trey Ackerman. An all-conference selection one year ago, Ackerman averaged 17 points per game last season for the green and white. Other key players that will join him in the backcourt will include senior Brandon Galvan and sophomore Aaron Sinclair. Galvan averaged 11 points per game last season, while Sinclair chipped in an additional 9 points per game. The Indians will also rely on the frontcourt play of senior Moses Beraza, who also secured all-conference honors a season ago. Beraza averaged 4 points and 13 rebounds per game last season. Coach Johnson also mentioned two more players that will be critical to the team’s success this season, in the form of Evan DeLaRosa and Elijah Rodarte. DeLaRosa, a senior, is a returner that served as the sixth man last season and will be expected to fit in nicely to the starting rotation this season. Rodarte, a junior, will be playing on the varsity team for the first time this season. He split time between the freshman and junior varsity squads two years ago, but an unfortunate knee injury kept him off the court last season.

Coach Johnson has high expectations for his team and expects them to be very competitive in the Southwest 10 Conference this year. He says the Indians have a good chance to contend with Cassopolis and Marcellus for the conference crown. The boys’ basketball team is set to tip-off their 2018-2019 campaign with a pair of conference road games the week of December 3. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, they will travel to Eau Claire to take on the Beavers and on Friday, Dec. 7, they will travel to Bangor to take on the Vikings. Good luck to the Hartford Boys Basketball team this season!

Hartford Competitive Cheerleading expects loud cheers despite fresh start

The Hartford Competitive Cheerleading program may only be a few years old, but the sport has already enjoyed a successful history in Hartford. Last season, however, can only be described as the most memorable and successful year in the history of the program. The Indians finished in fourth place in the Southwest Michigan Competitive Cheer Conference (SMCCC), before scoring a third place finish at the district, hosted by Lawton High School. That finish was enough to qualify the ladies for the regional competition for the first time ever. Despite the success of last season, this year is shaping up to be a complete, brand-new, fresh start for the team. The team returns no cheerleaders from last season and the coaching staff itself has undergone a change in the offseason. New head coach Brittany Owens and her assistant coach, Hailey Phebus, will be tasked with the challenge of coaching a group of young ladies and getting the three-round routines down quickly, as their season begins in the first part of December. However, Owens and Phebus were the coaches during the fall sideline cheerleading season and the cheerleaders did an outstanding job. So, the expectation is for continued success to carry over into the 2018-2019 season.

This year’s competitive cheerleading team will not feature any returners, but it will feature six newcomers that will be critical to leading the team to new heights. That list is highlighted by a trio of seniors, in the form of Elana Bailey, Destiny Chacon and Brittany Vanlandingham. Also, the team will rely heavily on sophomore Ashton Vassar and a pair of freshmen, Alora Gatties and Rachel Romeo. Coach Owens said, “This season, we have a small, but committed, group of girls that have been, and continue to work hard to make our community proud. For Hartford Competitive Cheer, the best is yet to come!”

According to Coach Owens, the SMCCC appears to be stacked and any one of eight teams could be crowned conference champions at the end of the season. Besides Hartford, the other seven teams in the conference race include Bloomingdale, Coloma, Delton Kellogg, Gobles, Lawton, Schoolcraft and White Pigeon. The Competitive Cheerleading season kicks into high gear on Saturday, Dec. 1, when Hartford travels to Lawton to compete in the Blue Devil Blackout Cheerleading Invitational. Check out the Press Box next week to see how the team did!

Good luck to the Hartford Competitive Cheerleading team this season!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant


Panther Boys Basketball ready to go

With several weeks of practice and a multi-team scrimmage under their belt, the Panther boys’ basketball team is ready to go under the guidance of new coach Josh Beckmann. The scrimmage included teams from South Haven, Lake Michigan Catholic, and Countryside Academy.

The pre-season games provided a good tune-up, as they played tough against a good South Haven team, then worked to find their game against Countryside and LMC, having little trouble with either team once they got their game working the way it was designed. The offensive plan will be to push the ball, reading and reacting to what the defense gives them, then attack and try to create mismatches.

The team is led by senior captains Jakob Aldrich and QuaShawn Jackson. Aldrich, along with Omar Cardoso and Curtis White, will lead the charge at point guard. Coach Beckmann expects several players to lead the scoring from night to night, including Aldrich, sophomore center Dylan Lawson, junior forwards Danaveon Gilbert and Jay Scruggs, along with freshman guard Andrew Chisek.

Other team members include seniors Austin Roberts and Kris Lenox, juniors Cole Pline and Boogie Henry, and sophomore Kade Van Niel.

Season opener for Panther Boys Basketball

The Panther boys opened their season on the road in snowy Berrien Springs on Tuesday, November 27. The final outcome wasn’t what Coach Josh Beckmann had in mind, as the Panthers fell to the Shamrocks 84-46.

The inexperienced and re-built Panthers came into the game hoping to use speed and quickness to take advantage of a team that finished just 3-21 last year, but they ran into a much bigger team with some good athletes and that typical home team shooting advantage.

The visitors came out running and feeding the ball underneath to the big man Dylan Lawson, who was able to put his primary defender in foul trouble right away. The Panthers were leading early, but managed just one three-pointer and seven free throws, five by freshman Andrew Chisek, and the Shamrocks led 16-10 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same as the Panther guards, including Chisek, Kris Lenox, Omar Cardoso, and Curtis White used the up-tempo game to get the ball down the court only to be denied at the basket. Despite being in the bonus most of the second quarter, the Panthers weren’t able to capitalize and the Shamrocks used their outside shooting to increase their lead to 39-23.

The Panthers’ shooting woes continued in the second half, while the Shamrocks got some layups and seemed to bury every outside shot they threw at the basket. The third quarter ended with the Shamrocks on top 65-35.

In the end, the young Panthers showed signs of strength but their inexperience at the varsity level, combined with a bad shooting night, cost them the game. Coach Beckmann said he was happy with the performance of his younger players and expects them to get better as they get a few games under their belts.

Southwest Grinders Travel Baseball holding tryouts this Sunday

The Southwest Grinders Travel Baseball will be holding tryouts this Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Coloma High School.

The tryouts are 10:30 a.m. for 8U and 9U with 10U and 11U at 12 noon. Ages are determined as of May 1.

Coloma FOP baseball facility is home field for this league. There are two indoor facilities available. The league holds weekly practices and there are four tournaments.

Benefits for the players include a free clinic hosted by the Coloma High School baseball team. League players will receive two uniforms. There is a registration fee which can be offset with fund-raisers.

Call backs will be the week of December 3.

For more information please contact: John Dahlquist 269-369-3445 or Tom Hyduk 269-876-4681 for 8U; Mark Coble 269-369-5069 or Kenny Ashley 269-861-4634 for 9U; Steve Hamilton 269-861-4431 or Josh Groendyke 269-420-1250 for 10U; and Mike Churchill 269-325-4090 for 11U.

Press Box Player of the Week

By John Oliphant This week’s Press Box Player of the Week is Watervliet’s Grace Smith. A senior, Grace recently completed her high school volleyball career by being named to all-region first team in Division 3 Region 20.


Dr. Andy says.. “The 5 keys to health are: nutrition, sleep, exercise, attitude, and a healthy nervous system. How are you doing on each of these? Chiropractic helps keep the nervous system healthy.”

More of the same for our TCR AQBs, RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht moves back into overall tie

By Dave Vollrath It was another challenging week for our pigskin prognosticators, and although it wasn’t a great week of picking, by the end of the weekend, another one that ended late on Sunday night, there was very little movement. By going 6-2, RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht gained a single point on our leader Rodney Lynch. By so doing, she moved back into a flat footed tie for the overall lead, but once again, because of the tie breaker game, which this week was the Cowboys and Redskins Thanksgiving Day, Lynch will remain in the first spot in the standings, a spot he keeps hanging onto by the skin of his teeth. The Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback competition is held weekly as six local football fans compete against one another to predict the winners of a pre selected group of games from high school, college, and the professional ranks. Following the conclusion of the Super Bowl, one winner is crowned champion, and will have the great honor of wearing a new Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback 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 tie breaker game. In addition to trying to select the winners for each week’s games, they try and predict the score of a specially selected game. The AQB who comes closest to the final total points scored by those two teams will get the higher spot in the standings. RoxAnn tied for the weekly honors at 6-2 with Tim Hildebrand, but gets the top weekly nod by virtue of her tie breaker score prediction of 48 points, as the Cowboys and Redskins actually combined for 54, and Tim guessed 41. Dan Jones missed the TB score by 1 measly point guessing 55 and comes in third for the week, followed by Rodney, and Greg Lynch, who all had 5-3 marks for the week. Chris Leach had a 4-4 mark and finished last for the week, but God Bless her she was still picking my awful Lions, and again it cost her. So the overall standings finds Lynch in first, and RoxAnn in second, they both have fantastic records of 81-27. Tim also creeps a little closer to Rodney coming in third just four points behind the top spot. Greg remains in fourth three points behind Tim, and still has a believable shot at winning, but he’ll have to make a move soon, they’re running out of season. Dan and Chris remain in 5th and 6th respectively, but I certainly give them lots of credit, they’re hanging in there and not losing ground. These are the games being thrown at our panel of pickers for the next round.

Alabama vs. Georgia Texas vs. Oklahoma Northwestern vs. Ohio State Clemson vs. Pittsburgh Chicago vs. NY Giants LA Rams vs. Detroit New Orleans vs. Dallas Minnesota vs. New England

The tie breaker game is Alabama vs. Georgia. Check back next week to see if their predictions scramble the standings!

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