12-6-18 Tri-City Area Sports

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Lady Panthers win season opener

It came down to the wire on Monday night, but the Lady Panthers played their best in the closing seconds to beat Berrien Springs 38-36. The entire fourth quarter was close, with the Panthers leading by just a few points throughout. The key series of the game began when Victoria Smith took a pass and got trapped by the Shamrock defense at the half-court line with 34 seconds remaining and the Panthers clinging to a 36-35 lead. Coach Ken Dietz quickly called his last timeout to prevent a turnover.

During the timeout Coach Dietz drew up what would become the game winning basket. On the ensuing inbounds play Emma Yazel lofted the ball to Smith who was running towards the basket, her defender in pursuit. Smith caught the pass, dribbled once and made the layup off the glass, putting the Panthers up by three with 30 seconds to play. The Shamrocks would manage one more point in the game as the Panther defense played their best and prevented any good looks at the basket as the clock expired.

Neither team was able to get a comfortable lead, as the evenly-matched teams tried to work their offenses against hard-working defenses. The first quarter saw five different Panthers score, and ended with the Panthers on top 9-4. That would be the biggest lead of the night for either team.

Elaine Koshar dominated under the basket in the first half, collecting 10 rebounds and scoring 8 points. The Shamrocks used their outside shooting to pull within one point at halftime, and the Panthers led 17-16 thanks to their 23-8 rebounding advantage.

Both teams cleaned up their turnovers in the second half, but the Panthers were able to get the Shamrocks in foul trouble, the bonus creating nine trips to the line. Their free throw shooting was just 13 for 23 in the game, but it was enough considering the Shamrocks were 4 for 11.

Outstanding defense was played for most of the night to keep the game close. Coach Dietz said Smith drew the assignment against the top Shamrock player and was superb, holding her to just two points. He also said Celina Klimkiewicz did a great job of distributing the basketball on the offensive end. She was pretty good on the defense too, leading the team with two blocked shots.

Elaine Koshar led the scoring for the Panthers, finishing with 17 points. Point guard Klimkiewicz scored 11, including a big three-pointer in the 4th quarter. Smith finished with 5 points, Ally Pazera with 3 points, and Emma Yazel scored 2 points. Koshar ended the game with 13 rebounds, seven of those on the offensive side. Smith had 13 rebounds including four in offense in the second half. Pazera also collected six rebounds. The Panthers dominated under the basket, winning the rebound battle 41-20.

The 1-0 Lady Panthers travel to Fennville on Friday night for their first conference matchup.

Panther Boys Basketball falls to Schoolcraft

The Panther boys’ basketball team travelled to Schoolcraft on Friday, November 30. With just eight players dressed for the game, the depleted Panthers fell to a strong Schoolcraft Eagles team, 67-30.

Andrew Chisek led the team, scoring 13, including two three-pointers. Dylan Lawson scored 7, Kade Van Niel added 5, Kenneth Russell scored 3, and Kris Lenox scored 2. The Panthers fall to 0-2.

The boys play their next game Friday night at Fennville.

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.

WHS Student Council Food Drive for the Holidays

The Watervliet High School Student Council is sponsoring a food drive to stock a local food pantry for the holidays!

On Thursday, Dec. 13 residents are encouraged to bring five canned or non-perishable food items to the JV basketball games and get in free. Junior Varsity Girls and Boys Basketball games against Gobles are held in the high school gym at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.

Items being suggested include canned goods, boxed cake mixes and baking items, cereal, granola bars, etc

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

For Hartford student-athletes, competition in winter sports began this past weekend, with the Competitive Cheerleading team competing in their first meet of the season. And while games for boys’ basketball begin this week, we will continue taking an in-depth look at the Indian teams that will be competing on the courts and mats this year and give you an idea on how our teams will be shaping up.

HAIR-RAISING ROUTINE… The Coloma varsity competitive cheer team took to the mat Saturday, December 1 at the Lawton Cheer Blackout and performed a hair-raising leap in the second round of competition. The Comets finished third out of nine varsity squads. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

So, this week, readers will be treated to a double dose of excitement. In addition to finding out how our competitive cheerleading team did last Saturday, they will also get their first look at the girls’ basketball team for 2018-2019.

Hartford Girls Basketball tips off with high expectations

Over the past couple of weeks, the Hartford Girls Basketball team has been practicing hard for the season that lies ahead. Last season was a very successful year for the ladies wearing the green and white. The Lady Indians are coming off of a 2017-2018 season that saw them finish at 18-4 overall and 16-2 in Southwest 10 Conference play, which resulted in a second place finish in the league standings behind conference champion, Centreville. The team also won their district semifinal game in a thriller against Cassopolis, 39-37. That win advanced Hartford to the district final, where they would ultimately fall to Niles Brandywine, a team that advanced all the way to the regional final. Despite having such a successful year last winter, this season might pose a little more of a challenge for second year Head Coach Kailee Friday. The Lady Indians lost four very key members of their team to graduation, including three players that were penciled in the starting five almost every game: Jessica Cortes, AJ Jackson and Angela Saldana, while Cora Wesaw came in off the bench with key minutes and timely shots.

However, all is not lost for Hartford, as the team will be relying on three key returning players to be leaders on the court this season. The list is headed by senior Mikenzie Chambers, who will be essential down low to score at the rim and rebound in the trenches. Coach Friday added by saying, “Chambers is going to be key for us this year.” Also returning to the team will be junior Megan Nelson and sophomore Nautica Covington, both players that will be tasked with getting the ball up the court from their guard positions.

The second team under Coach Friday’s watch will be very young however, as this year’s roster will feature five freshmen when the season starts. The fact that the team is so young might deter some coaches from being overly optimistic, but Coach Friday is feeling the exact opposite. While being cautious and keeping a lid on expectations, Coach Friday still says, “We will be a young team this year, with having five freshmen on our team. But, I do not see why we still could not compete for a conference or district title.” When asked about who might stand in the way of winning the conference title, Coach Friday did not hesitate to mention Centreville. The Bulldogs swept the season series last year, but this time around, the Lady Indians will look to return the favor.

The girls’ basketball team is set to tip-off their 2018-2019 campaign with a pair of conference tilts the week of December 10. On Tuesday, Dec. 11, they will travel to Mendon to take on the Hornets and on Friday, Dec. 14, they will begin their home slate by welcoming the Marcellus Wildcats to Indian Gymnasium. Good luck to the Hartford Girls Basketball team this season!

Hartford Competitive Cheerleading cheers to eighth place finish

The Hartford Competitive Cheerleading team took to the mats for the first time this season on Saturday, Dec. 1, when they traveled to Lawton to take part in the Blue Devil Blackout Cheerleading Invitational. The team came into 2018-2019 fresh off a record-setting season last year, in which they finished fourth place in the bigger Southwest Michigan Competitive Cheer Conference (SMCCC), finished third place at districts and made an appearance in the regional competition. This year, however, could be a challenge for the ladies after losing five seniors and enduring a change in the coaching staff. This first meet would challenge the new-look team and be the first building block to rebuilding the program.