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Watervliet Press Box

Boys Basketball wins two

The 7th-ranked boys varsity basketball team of Watervliet High School took their first loss of the season to a tough Benton Harbor team, 71-68, last week and then took out their frustration on Coloma Friday night Jan. 20, winning 59-31.

SCOREBOARD BATTLE… Panther Grace Chisek drives to the basket near the end of the girls varsity basketball game with Benton Harbor last week. The Panther press forced several turnovers allowing them to take a brief lead in the game on Jan. 18, 2023, which they lost moments later on a last second shot by the Tigers. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

The Panthers hadn’t played Benton Harbor in quite some time, if ever; and in what can be best described as a playoff atmosphere in a large and nearly-full Benton Harbor gym the Tigers had a big home field advantage. Regardless, the Panthers jumped out to a 15-5 lead with some good interior passing leading to layups and short jumpers led by Tyson Williams with eight points in the quarter. From there, the Tiger’s Grant Gondrezick, a top contender for Mr. Basketball, took over. He scored 10 points in the quarter, dropping shots from all over the court to get his team back into the game. Gondrezick scored 21 in the first half but didn’t play the rest of the game.

The Panthers held a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, and from that point on the entire game was back and forth, with neither team leading by more than a few. The Panthers led 35-33 at the half and the game was tied at 49 to start the fourth quarter. The persistent Tiger defensive pressure allowed them to get a lead and stay ahead. Both teams played fun, hard basketball the entire way, but the late Tiger defense was the difference when it looked like the Panthers might take the lead or pull ahead.

Williams led all scorers with 24 points, including a pair of threes. Kaiden Bierhalter scored 17 off the bench. Jake Pleyer scored eight points and Brady Bornas scored seven. Jacob Schaefer and Wyatt Epple each scored six.

On Friday night, Jan. 20, Coloma came to the Panther gym and took one on the chin. The Panthers appeared fired up and were running their offense and press defense to perfection. Jacob Pleyer scored the first eight points of the game including a three early, then a pair of buckets on fast breaks plus a free throw. He eventually scored 11 in the quarter and the Panthers led 19-4 after one. The second quarter was played even with the score 29-13 at halftime and then the Panthers coasted from there for the 59-31 win. Both teams had big student sections cheering on the action and each other, having a great time.

Pleyer led all scorers with 18 points and a trio of threes. Williams scored 14, Bierhalter scored eight, Alex Hicks and Schaefer each scored six points. Bornas scored four, and Royce Daugherty scored on a sharp move under the basket in the second quarter.

The boys are now 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the SAC Lakeshore division. They host Fennville on Friday, Jan. 27 for Winterfest and then host Parchment on Tuesday, Jan. 31 before playing at South Haven on Friday, Feb. 3.

Girls Basketball wins two

The Panther girls’ varsity basketball team lost on a last-second shot at Benton Harbor Wednesday, Jan. 18, 59-58. The Panther defense spent most of the game trying to defend 6’5 Desrae Kyles, who scored 24 in the game and dominated the boards.

The teams played to a 14-14 tie in the first quarter and the Tigers led 27-23 at halftime. In the third quarter the Lady Panthers outscored the Tigers 22-14 to take a 45-41 lead. The momentum swung and

HOT HITTING… Watervliet’s Tyson Williams gets an easy score against Benton Harbor’s Brian Gillespie in the boys varsity basketball game last Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. Williams dominated under the basket, scoring a game-high 24 points. The Tigers won the game 71-68. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

Watervliet found themselves down by eight points with a few minutes to go. They went into a very effective press that created several turnovers and breakaway layups to take the lead 58-57 with 11 seconds remaining. The Tigers’ Kabrina Mays took the inbounds pass and ran the ball down the court to throw up what looked like a wild shot over the backboard, but the bounce was true and the ball fell through the hoop with a few seconds remaining. The Panthers couldn’t get the ball back fast enough and time expired.

Grace Chisek led all scorers with a season-high 26 points, including a pair of threes. Samantha Dietz scored 15 while being defended by the taller Kyles and MJ Flowers scored 10. Ellie Golden scored five points and Lilly Lefor scored two.

The girls also played Martin early last week and won 49-27. Chisek scored 18, Flowers scored 14, Dietz scored 11, Golden scored five, and Lauren Laws scored a point.

The girls are now 8-2 overall and 7-1 in the SAC Lakeshore division. They also host Fennville on Friday night before traveling to Schoolcraft on Tuesday, Jan. 31 and Plainwell on Monday, Feb. 6.

Wrestling action

The Watervliet wrestling team traveled to South Haven on Wednesday, Jan. 18. The Panthers wrestled South Haven and Fennville, losing to the Rams and beating the Blackhawks. Luke Isbrecht and Ayana Marshall each had two wins, while Kam Smith, Taylor Woollett, Gabe Meachum, Guillermo Moron, and Wyatt MacMillan each got a win.

On Saturday the boys on the team traveled to the Marcellus invitational and the girls attended the Ron Russo Invitational. Watervliet would bring home three medals from Marcellus; Riley Hess with a first place with Luke Isbrecht and Kam Smith taking seconds.

The girls at the Russo Classic at Kalamazoo Central participated in a girls-only branch of the tournament. The Panthers would put two on the podium. Ayana Marshall had two pins and a first place medal and Taylor Woollett had three pins on her way to a 3rd place finish.


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