Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele
If there is such a phrase as “fully underway”, then you can say winter sports in Hartford are now officially “fully underway”! The boys’ basketball team, coming off of a week that saw them score two victories, was back in action for another two games, while the wrestling team returned to the mats for a conference double dual matchup in Bangor. Add to that the fact that the girls’ basketball team tipped off their season with a pair of conference matchups and you have the semblance of a very busy week of high school sports.
Hartford boys’ basketball remains undefeated after dominant week
This week was another busy one for the Hartford boys’ basketball team. After winning a pair of conference games to begin their season, the men were faced with two more conference games this past week.
On Tuesday night, Dec. 11, the Indians traveled to Mendon to take on a Hornet team that beat Hartford in both regular season meetings last season, before making their debut in front of the home crowd in Indian gymnasium on Friday night, Dec. 14 against a Marcellus Wildcats team that head coach John Johnson labeled as one of the conference favorites before the season started. When looking ahead to these two games, it definitely looked like a test for the green and white on paper – but it ended up going in another direction.
In Tuesday night’s game against Mendon, Hartford stung the host Hornets, 59-30. The game was never in doubt from the first quarter on, with the Indians jumping out to a 19-6 lead after one quarter. Hartford added 13 points to Mendon’s nine in the second quarter to take a 32-15 halftime lead. The second half was more of the same, with the Indians balancing solid offense with disciplined defense to outscore their opponents, 27-to-15 in the third and fourth quarters to pull away for the 29-point win.
When all was said and done, nine different Hartford players put their name in the scoring column, led by Trey Ackerman’s 19 points. Ackerman also recorded six rebounds. Moses Beraza may have scored just three points, but he was a beast on the glass, gobbling up 17 boards. Also scoring for the Indians were Brandon Galvan (9 points), Aaron Sinclair (8 points), Evan De La Rosa (8 points), Elijah Rodarte (5 points), Xavier Salinas (4 points), Jose Villalobos (2 points) and Elijah Ledesma (1 point). Hartford finished the night having made 11 two-point baskets, seven three-point baskets and shot 16-for-22, or 73 percent, from the free throw line.
In Friday night’s home opener against Marcellus, Hartford sent a message to the Southwest 10 Conference with their 61-44 victory over the visiting Wildcats.
Once again, Hartford stormed out to a 35-20 lead at halftime, thanks to an offensive explosion on both the interior and outside, as well as solid, tight defense on the other end of the court. The second half was much tighter, but Hartford still managed to outscore Marcellus, 26-24, in the final two quarters to seal the victory. In fact, the fourth quarter was the only frame in which the Wildcats outscored the Indians, but it was only by a three-point margin, 14-11.
Seven different Hartford players ended up in the scoring column in this contest, including a trio of players with double-digit points. Trey Ackerman led the Indians for the fourth straight game, scoring 17 points, while also adding six rebounds and three assists to his stat line. Aaron Sinclair chipped in 16 points, while Brandon Galvan scored 11 points. Evan De La Rosa played a complete, all-around game, scoring nine points and picking up five assists. Moses Beraza continued his great inside play, picking up 11 rebounds and four steals, in addition to his two points. Also scoring for the Indians were Elijah Rodarte (4 points) and Xavier Salinas (2 points).
Hartford finished the night with a balanced scoring attack, making 12 two-point baskets, 11 three-point baskets and shooting 4-for-4, a 100 percent clip, at the charity stripe.
With their two victories this week, the Hartford Boys Basketball team is currently 4-0 on the season, both overall and in Southwest 10 Conference play. The Indians will play in another pair of conference games this week; on Tuesday, Dec. 18, they traveled to Decatur to take on their rivals, the Raiders, before returning to Hartford on Thursday, Dec. 20 for a game against White Pigeon. These will be the final two games the men will play before the extended holiday break.
Hartford Girls Basketball splits pair of games during opening week
After having to sit and watch the boys’ basketball team begin its season the previous week, the Hartford Girls Basketball team received their chance to tip off the season with a pair of Southwest 10 Conference games. On Tuesday night, Dec. 11, the ladies began their 2018-19 season with a visit to Mendon to take on the Hornets, while on Friday night, Dec. 14, they hosted the Marcellus Wildcats.
Last season was a very successful one for the green and white, posting 19 victories when it was all said and done. Despite all of the success last season, the Lady Indians come into this year very young and inexperienced in many aspects, as the roster features five freshman and just three returning starters. Last week was a test for Hartford, but last season, they posted sweeps of the season series with both teams they would see in these first two contests.
In Tuesday night’s game against Mendon, Hartford fell to the host Hornets, 44-34. The Indians got off to a strong start, scoring seven points in the opening eight minutes; all while holding Mendon to just two points. The second quarter was the turning point in this game, as the home team woke up on offense, outscoring Hartford, 13-2, as well as getting key Indian players in foul trouble. The third quarter saw both teams score 15 points and Mendon held a six-point lead with eight minutes to go. But in the final stanza, the Hornets pulled away with a 14-10 edge in the quarter to seal the 10-point win.
Hartford had just five players put points on the board in this game, led by Nautica Covington, who scored 12 points and added seven rebounds and five assists to her stat line. Megan Nelson added eight points in the loss, while Mikenzie Chambers scored seven points and also added five rebounds. Also scoring for the Indians were Jaelyne Galvan (5 points) and Alexis Snodgrass (2 points). Hartford finished the game having made eight two-point baskets, three three-point baskets and shooting 9-for-15, or 60 percent, from the free throw line.
In Friday night’s game against Marcellus, Hartford dominated the visiting Wildcats, 61-41. The first eight minutes of the contest were played rather closely, with the Indians winning the battle, 10-6. Hartford pulled away in the second quarter, courtesy of quality shot making and stifling defense. The Indians won the second stanza, 14-4, to take a 24-10 lead into the half.
Marcellus came out in the second half playing great defensively, forcing the home team into quite a few turnovers. However, Head Coach Kailee Friday calmed her team down and got the ship righted, as Hartford posted 22 points in the third quarter and extended their lead to 46-25 with eight minutes remaining. The visiting Wildcats, did, however, win the fourth quarter battle, but it was by the slightest of margins, 16-15, sealing the Indians 20-point victory.
Eight different players scored for the green and white on this night, led by a pair of double digit scorers in Jaelyne Galvan and Mikenzie Chambers, both of whom scored 21 points. Galvan added four steals and three assists to her stat line, while Chambers picked up a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds and tossing in three assists. Megan Nelson gave the Indians some valuable energy from the get-go, with the junior pitching in seven points, four assists and four steals in the victory.
Also scoring for the Indians were Descenya Rodarte (3 points), Meghan Deckard (3 points), Gillian Kuehnle (2 points), Karly Manning (2 points) and Nautica Covington (2 points). Hartford tallied 14 two-point baskets, seven three-point baskets and shot 12-for-26, or 46 percent, from the charity stripe.
By splitting the first two games of the season, the Hartford Girls Basketball team is currently 1-1 overall on the young season, as well as having the same record in the Southwest 10 Conference. The Indians will be back in action with a pair of home conference games in the final week before the holiday break. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, they hosted the Decatur Raiders, while on Thursday, Dec. 20, the White Pigeon Chiefs will make the trek to Hartford.
Hartford Wrestling improving despite growing pains
The schedule for the Hartford Wrestling team was a touch lighter than the one seen in the previous week. Last week, they took part in just one meet, which was a Southwest 10 Conference double-dual, hosted by Bangor, on Wednesday, Dec. 12. In addition to the Indians and the host Vikings, the other two teams that made up this meet were Bloomingdale and Eau Claire.
It has been a tough start to the season for the green and white, but it can be chalked up to youth and inexperience, lack of bodies at plenty of weight classes and some injuries to a couple of key wrestlers at the top of the lineup. However, it must be said that the team is improving day-in and day-out and Head Coach Matthew Nilson should be proud of his team, despite several negative factors early on.
In Wednesday night’s meet, Hartford would compete against Bangor and Bloomingdale, as they will wrestle against Eau Claire later in the season. In their first dual of the night, Hartford fell to Bangor, 48-12. The Indians picked up a pair of six-point victories, courtesy of two match wins by pin. The first match victory came at 215 pounds, where Uberth Morales pinned Ivan Mejia in 3:44, which was followed up by another victory at 285 pounds by Nicholas Sandoval, who pinned Ke’arius Jennings in :50.
In their second dual of the night, Hartford suffered defeat to Bloomingdale, 48-15. In this dual, Hartford picked up one additional win to score three match victories. All three match wins came consecutively – at 189 pounds, 215 pounds and 285 pounds, respectively. In the 189 pound match, James Terry pinned Alex Sustaita in just :35. In the 215 pound match, Josue Pineda pinned his opponent, Jesus Lopez-Solis in 5:54. And in the 285 pound match, Noah Wade won a thriller against Brian Jackson by just one point, 8-7. The one-point victory by Wade was his second thrilling victory in as many weeks.
With two more losses, the Hartford Wrestling team fell to 0-4 overall on the dual meet season, and now boasts a 0-2 record in Southwest 10 Conference dual meet action. The Indians will now get a couple weeks off, with nothing on the schedule until Saturday, Dec. 29, when they will travel to Climax to take part in the Jim Wade Family Classic Wrestling Invitational. The tournament is an individual tournament, which will feature 17 teams including fellow Tri-City teams Coloma and Watervliet, as well as Athens, Bangor, Battle Creek Lakeview, Constantine, Galesburg-Augusta, Grand Rapids West Catholic, Grass Lake, Lawrence, Marcellus, Martin, Pittsford, Plainwell, Richland Gull Lake and Vermontville Maple Valley. It may be a drive, but plan to go on over to Climax and support Tri-City area wrestlers!
STIFF ARM… Hannah Mathis, a senior guard on Coloma’s varsity squad powers past Sarah Wenke of Kalamazoo Christian on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Coloma fell to the visiting Comets 54-33. (TCR photo Kristy Noack)
Coloma Comets wrestle their way to two SAC conference victories; Cody Reese gets his 100th career victory
The Coloma Comet Wrestling team had a great night recently, as they wrestled in a quad meet hosted by their next door neighbors at the Watervliet gym, and came away with two hard earned conference victories, and Cody Reese a 145-pound senior celebrated his 100th career victory.
The Coloma wrestlers defeated Galesburg-Augusta by a score of 47-21.
Of the two victories, Coach Kenny Ashley said, “I thought tonight’s matches went pretty much as expected. Galesburg has improved every year, and I knew they would be tough, and I knew our experience would be the difference in that match.”
Coloma wrestlers winning against G-A were Cody Reese at 145 pounds, Mike Case 152, Alec DeLaTorre 160 pounds, and Caleb Ishmael 112. Comets winning by forfeit were Nathan Wilder, Noah Mort, Cole Alsup, and Delray Williams.
The Comets then won the match versus Lawton by a final score of 44-34. Of this match Coach Ashley stated that, “We knew Lawton would be a very tough match, and we were just lucky our voids matched up with theirs.” Winning in their match against their counterpart from Lawton were Comets, Noah Mort at 140 pounds, Cody Reese 145, Mike Case 152, Aaron Pounders at 171 pounds, and Dalton Turner at 189. Winning for Coloma by forfeit were Delray Williams 103, Cole Alsup 285, and Caleb Ishmael 112.
Coach Ashley stated that for the night, “We were missing a few people tonight that would have helped, but all in all it was a good night. As long as we make ourselves better every time we touch the mat, we will have a shot when February comes around. In spite of the shortage in numbers, I am still expecting great things from this team, with the experienced guys we have.”
The Comets then traveled to Coldwater on Saturday the 15th for the Coldwater Classic, and several of the Coloma wrestlers had an excellent day. Coming away with 5-0 records for the day were Cole Alsup and Ian Ishmael, and finishing the day at 4-1 were Caleb Ishmael, Cody Reese, and Noah Mort.
The Comets traveled to Fennville on Wednesday the 15th for more conference wrestling action.
Coloma Comet bowlers, girls and boys, are rolling through their early season schedules with relative ease
The Coloma girls’ bowling team has been on the lanes frequently the first couple of weeks of the season, and have been pounding the pins, and rolling over their opponents with polish and flair.
The girls faced Constantine on Dec. 10 at South Lanes in Three Rivers, and won that match handily by a final count of 29-1, with a team total of 1716, to Constantine’s 1348. Tops on the lanes were Lainey Meader who rolled a 254 and a 402 total, Emily Feldten shot 180 and 239 for a 419 total, and Carissa Richmond had a high game of 237 and a 387 total.
Next on Dec. 12, shooting against Schoolcraft at Continental Lanes, the Comet gals won by a final score of 28-2. Carissa Richmond led Coloma with a high game of 201 and a 362 total. Lainey Meader had a high game of 194, and Morgan Hosbein shot a 343 total. The Coloma Comet team beat Schoolcraft by over 600 pins, ouch, that’s a whoopin’!
The Coloma boys also faced Constantine on Dec. 10 and defeated them 24-6, with team totals of Coloma 1,630. Tops for Coloma were Ryan Wilson rolling a 220 game and 388 total backed up by Charlie Cullitan with a 369.
The boys then faced Schoolcraft and won by a final count of 20-10. The Comets and Schoolcraft each had a final total of 1,526. Top Comet bowlers were Charlie Cullitan with a high game of 198 and a 351 total, Nick Santarlas shot a 189, and Damian Gomez rolled a high of 171.
Then on Friday, Dec. 14, both teams were in action competing at the Portage Northern Invitational and each finished in second in the team competition. The boys qualified 6th and lost to Sturgis in the final round, and the girls qualified first but lost in the final round to Bronson. Also for the boys individually, Jonathon Swetay finished in 7th place overall. For the girls, Carissa Richmond finished 1st place in individuals, with Morgan Hosbein coming in 2nd, and Emily Feldten coming in 10th place for the Comets.
The Comet bowlers were back in action on Monday, Dec 17.
Attention Youth Girls Basketball players! Coloma Holiday Basketball Camp
A skill development and season warm-up camp will be held on December 27 and 28. Youth girls 3rd thru 5th grade are from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Sixth thru 8th grade are from 10:00 a.m. to noon.
Please respond as soon as possible with intention to attend! Contact Coach Cade at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pressbox Player of the Week
By John Oliphant
This week’s Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week is Isaiah Yazel, a 152-pound wrestler at Watervliet High School.
Isaiah has begun the season with a bang, going 10-2 with nine pins. He’s a sophomore at WHS and has been wrestling since the sixth grade.
In the past week Isaiah wrestled six times and came away with five wins on four pins, none of which took longer than 2:30. He’s only seen the third period of one match so far, a back and forth battle he eventually won with a pin in the first week of the season against Parchment.
His coach, Joe Isbrecht, says, “Isaiah has made great improvements since last year. He is stronger and more knowledgeable but still has some room for improvement.”
He credits wrestling camp for building his skills, and is motivated by a natural desire to win more matches than his older brothers, who also wrestled for Watervliet. He’s at 31 wins so far in his young career.
Isaiah’s goal this year is to reach the state tournament, which requires finishing in 4th place or better at both districts and regionals. Given his fast start, that goal is well within his reach.
Isaiah is also a member of the varsity football team and plans to run track in the spring. He hasn’t made any plans for his future yet, but he’s got plenty of time to do that and get to 100 wins. Congratulations, Isaiah!
Trent McKinney Memorial Scholarship fund-raiser and Senior Night for wrestlers
The Panther wrestlers hosted their only home meet of the season on Wednesday, December 12. The quad meet featured the wrestling teams from Coloma, Lawton, and Galesburg Augusta.
The Senior Night festivities honored two wrestlers from the class of 2019, Coby Henslee and Matt Melcher. In addition, the meet was dedicated to Trent McKinney, a 1986 WHS graduate and state-qualifier during his days as a Panther wrestler. Proceeds from the meet went to the Trent McKinney Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund assists the Watervliet wrestling program and provides a scholarship to a member of the wrestling team.
The Panther’s first matchup of the night was against the Rams of Galesburg-Augusta, and the Panthers came out on top 43-18. The match featured pins by Alex Isbrecht, Isaiah Yazel, and Don Smith. Trever Pelton won 18-4, and Coby Henslee won 5-3. Nathan Isbrecht and Matt Melcher collected unopposed wins.
The second match was against Lawton, a program with a long history of good wrestling teams. They don’t have the powerhouse team of recent years, but still managed to get the win 42-36. Trever Pelton, Santi Wilkinson, and Don Smith won with pins. Alex Isbrecht won 10-6, and Coby Henslee won 8-4. Isaiah Yazel earned an unopposed win.
Wrestlers at South Haven for team tournament
The wrestling team took M-140 up to South Haven for a team invitational meet on Saturday, December 15. The Panthers were only able to fill eight of the 14 weight classes on this day, making team wins hard to earn. They faced teams from Muskegon Orchard View, Kalamazoo Unity Christian, Bloomingdale, and Reed City. The team beat Reed City, with every Panther wrestler collecting a win.
The individual wrestlers performed superbly, going 23-9 on the day.
GOING DOWN… Coloma’s Cody Reese lofted Lawton’s Landyn VanWyk into the air and dropped him to the mat as the duo wrestled in the 145 lb. weight class at Watervliet Wednesday night, Dec. 12. Reese picked up his 100th career victory after notching the 7-2 win. (TCR photo Kristy Noack)
Matt Melcher returned from an injury for his first sports action of the year, leading the team with four wins and three pins. Jimmy Kolosowsky also went 4-0. Isaiah Yazel had three pins, finishing at 3-1. Trever Pelton went 3-1 with two pins. Coby Henslee went 3-1, with one pin. Alex Isbrecht had two pins, going 2-2. Nathan Isbrecht also went 2-2, with one pin. Santi Wilkinson went 2-2, also with one pin.
The wrestlers’ next meet is Saturday, December 22 at Martin.
Panther girls take on Kalamazoo Hackett
The Panther girls’ basketball team hosted Kalamazoo Hackett on Tuesday, December 11. The Hackett girls combined strong outside shooting with a tough, scrappy defense and won their season opener 49-35.
The first quarter ended with the Irish leading 11-5, as the Panthers struggled to score early in the game. After falling behind 17-5 early in the 2nd quarter, the Panthers went on a 12-1 run to close the gap to one point. Hackett responded with a 5-0 run of their own, and the half ended with the Irish leading 23-17.
The second half saw the Irish take command with more good shooting and solid rebounding. Despite putting Hackett into foul trouble early, the Panthers couldn’t capitalize on their extra free throws, shooting just 45% from the line.
Elaine Koshar led the Panthers with nine points and seven rebounds. Victoria Smith scored eight and pulled down four rebounds. Celina Klimkiewicz scored eight with four rebounds and two blocked shots. Ally Pazera scored six, with three rebounds and one block. Emma Yazel scored three and collected four rebounds. Brittney Porphir scored one.
Panther girls travel to Gobles
The Panther basketball teams traveled to Gobles on Friday, December 14. The Gobles Tigers girls won the first game of the night, 55-32.
The Lady Panthers struggled to score, notching just five points in the 2nd quarter and five more in the 3rd. They were also plagued with the turnover bug, handing over the ball 34 times in the game.
Elaine Koshar led the Panther scoring with nine, and grabbed six rebounds. Celina Klimkiewicz scored five and hauled in five rebounds. Emma Yazel, Brittney Porphir, Serena Reyna, and Sabrina Klimkiewicz all scored three. Ally Pazera, Victoria Smith, and Alex Worley each scored two.
The girls’ next game is Thursday, December 20 at Martin.
Panther boys take on Gobles
The Panther boys faced the Gobles Tigers last Friday night, with the Tigers coming out on top 61-28. The young Panthers team played well but struggled to score against an experienced Tigers team.
Freshman Andrew Chisek led the scoring with 10 points, and also pulled down five rebounds. Danaveon Gilbert scored six, Omar Cardoso scored four, Dylan Lawson scored three, Austin Roberts and Kade Van Niel each scored two, and Cole Pline scored one.
The boys’ next game is today, December 20 at Martin.
AQB contest sees big week for Rodney Lynch, as he takes commanding overall lead; Hildebrand keeps pace, nears second place
By Dave Vollrath It was a great weekend for two of our pigskin prognosticators, as this season’s bowl season got underway in earnest. If you are a fan of our panel of football picking experts, you would know that for several months first place has been held by either Rodney Lynch or RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, and for many of those weeks they were tied, and our leader was decided by that week’s tie breaker. However, Lynch this week broke out in a big way by correctly picking our three bowl games, which were tough to pick because they were contested with very evenly matched teams. Lynch’s big week, and a rough week for RoxAnn, now gives Rodney a little breathing room for a change, as he now has a 3-point cushion. 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. Along with Lynch, our overall leader, Tim Hildebrand also picked the bowl games correctly as each finished the week with a 6-2 mark. Tim continues to hold down the third place slot, but now is only one point behind RoxAnn for second overall and is still within striking distance for first place, four points behind. With all of the upcoming bowl games, and many great match ups, and also the NFL playoffs looming on the horizon, this will be the most challenging time for our prognosticators, and all three of these folks, still have a chance to win it all. For the weekly honors, Hildebrand is number one based on the tie breaker, followed by Lynch. Greg Krell is third for the week at 4-4 along with Dan Jones who gets the 4th place nod. Chris Leach and RoxAnn each struggled to a 3-5 mark, and finished 5th and 6th respectively. As things heat up this week going into the holidays, be sure to check back next week to see how our panel of pickers fares with this week’s games.
(Idaho Potato Bowl) Western Michigan 7-5 vs. BYU 6-6 (Birmingham Alabama Bowl) Memphis 8-5 vs. Wake Forest 6-6 (Armed Forces Bowl) Houston 8-4 vs. Army 9-2 Baltimore vs. LA Chargers Minnesota vs. Detroit Chicago vs. San Francisco Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans Kansas City vs. Seattle
The tie breaker for this week is a great NFL matchup between the Steelers and the Saints.