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Watervliet Press Box

Boys Basketball wins ninth straight

The Panther boys varsity basketball team won their eighth and ninth straight games last week, beating Schoolcraft 61-47 and surviving against Allegan 50-39. The 15-1 team has one blemish all season, a three-point miss at Benton Harbor, who is ranked #4 in Division 2. Otherwise, Watervliet is currently ranked #4 on the AP Division 3 list. They are #2 in the D3 Michigan Power Rankings and currently 8th overall on the MPR list of all teams in the state. The Panthers are also 8-0 in the SAC Lakeshore Division and will win that title easily.

This week the boys team plays non-conference matchups at 8-7 Berrien Springs, and home against 11-3 Centreville on Thursday. They close the week on Friday, Feb. 17 with Senior Night and a rematch with 10-6 Bridgman.

In reviewing last week, on Tuesday, Feb. 7 they hosted 10-5 Schoolcraft and came away with a relatively easy win to sweep the series. The Panthers put up 22 points in the first quarter with five different players scoring. In what would be the theme of the game, the Panthers had little trouble scoring inside and the Eagles’ two sharpshooters stayed outside, hitting nine three-pointers in the game and scoring all but seven of their team’s 47 points. The Panthers out rebounded the Eagles 43-12 and controlled play in the paint.

Schoolcraft closed within eight in the fourth quarter but the Panthers then scored 13 unanswered points to extend the lead to 61-40 and put the game away.

Tyson Williams led the Panthers with 22 points. Brady Bornas finished with 14, including a pair of threes. Jacob Schaefer stays hot while scoring 12 points. Kaiden Bierhalter scored nine and Wyatt Epple scored four points.

On Friday, Feb. 10 the Panthers made their first trip to Allegan, who were 8-7 on the season. The team was without Bierhalter who suffered a minor ankle injury earlier in the week. They had to adjust as Epple was called for a pair of fouls in the first quarter and then Williams got his second foul call shortly into the second quarter. They still had a 14-11 lead after one quarter and then took a 23-20 lead into halftime. Allegan closed to 35-33 at the end of three, but the Panthers came on strong in the final quarter to get the 50-39 win.

Seven different Panthers scored, led by Bornas with 13 points, Tristan Steltner getting the start and scoring 11, and Epple scoring 10. Williams scored six, Schaefer and Alex Hicks each scored four, and Owen Epple scored two.

The team has six games remaining on the regular season schedule, with the District 77 tournament here in Watervliet. The Panthers are the first seed as of now, with Brandywine holding a slim edge over Bridgman for the second seed. Other teams in the district will be Coloma and Cassopolis. The regional tournament will be held in Coloma starting March 13.

Girls Basketball wins two

The 14-4 girls varsity basketball team has won five straight with victories last week over Galesburg-Augusta and Allegan. They have four games remaining in the regular season and are likely to be seeded first in the District 77 tournament, hosted at Bloomingdale. The district matchups will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 19 and include Bangor, Gobles, Hartford, and Bloomingdale. The Panthers are the odd-on favorite and should they win regionals will be held at Centreville starting March 7.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7 the team traveled to 8-7 Galesburg-Augusta and came away with a 50-34 win. The Panther defense set the tone for the game, holding the Rams to just four points in the first quarter and eight points in each of the second and third quarters. Leading 39-20 heading into the final period, the Panthers got several bench players in the game to secure the win.

On Friday, Feb. 10 the team played at 5-11 Allegan, coming home with a relatively easy 48-33 victory. Team defense was again the theme as the Panthers held the Tigers to just 19 points over the first three quarters while scoring 38. The win clinches the SAC Lakeshore title.

MJ Flowers led the scoring with 16 points including four treys. Grace Chisek scored 12, Samantha Dietz scored 10, and Abby Whorton scored six.

The girls also host Bridgman for Senior Night on Friday, Feb. 17, and then host Kalamazoo Hackett on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and Michigan Lutheran on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Wrestling post-season underway

The Panther wrestlers began their post-season last week with a 60-15 loss to Hartford in the opening round of the team district tournament. The team has been hit with several injuries and departures, leaving them with an enthusiastic but young and inexperienced team. The match started with a big 13-12 overtime win for Luke Isbrecht over Hartford’s Ernesto Rodarte. The momentum was soon lost as the Huskies won the next six matches to secure the win.


PANTHER PIN… Watervliet’s Brayden Symonds works to turn Hartford’s Mikayla Hartline at the team district tournament on Thursday, Jan. 9. Symonds got the pin at 3:18 in the second period, but the Huskies won the match 60-15. (TCR photo by John Oliphant)

On Saturday, Feb. 11 the team traveled to Constantine for the individual districts. Riley Hess and Luke Isbrecht had qualified for a trip to regionals on Saturday at Constantine, with the rest of the boys seeing their wrestling season ended. Hess finished second place at 175 pounds, and Isbrecht finished fourth at 120 pounds.

The new and official MHSAA girls regional tournament begins next weekend, with several Panthers participating.

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