The visiting Crusaders took a 17-6 lead early on in the game, but the Warriors answered with a 7-0 run to draw within four points. However, the Crusaders would pull away for a 30-21 lead at intermission before opening the second half on a 10-4 run.
With the team down 40-25 early in the third quarter, it appeared as though the Warriors were out for the count, but senior forward Cam Waller took the game into his own hands, scoring 14 points down the stretch to power the Warriors to the comeback win.
“We got back to playing defense,” said WMC head coach Kurt Gruppen. “We were getting down in our stance while we were guarding people, moving our feet and slowing down their transition game. I think our shot selection on offense was good, which didn’t allow them to have any run outs on long rebounds to go the other way with it.”
Waller finished with a career-high 23 points to lead the Warriors (5-11, 4-4 Lakes Eight), while fellow senior forward Dan Ray added eight points and Chance Larson and Nolan Fairfield each added six.
“He was huge for us,” Gruppen said of Waller. “He’s been working his way into the rotation and trying to earn more playing time. It hasn’t always worked out for him, but he was phenomenal tonight.
“He finished shots over his left shoulder, he finished shots over his right shoulder, he was down in a stance on defense, and he just gave great effort out there. He’s been practicing really hard the last few days, so it translated well to tonight’s game.
“Garrett Cracker was huge for us tonight, too. He had a lot of big defensive plays for us down the stretch, including some key steals, which helped us pull away at the end. Chance Larson did a really good job of screening and getting people open.”
Nick Morgenstern paced the Crusaders (7-8, 4-4 Lakes Eight) with a game-high 25 points, while senior LaTommy Scott added nine and A.J. Johnson chipped in with eight.
“This was huge for us,” Gruppen continued. “We’ve had a rough go of it lately, and sometimes, when we get down, it just kind of snowballs on us. I was really proud of my guys for hanging in there and not quitting. We kept fighting, chipped away at the deficit, got a little momentum. Once we gain some confidence and momentum like that, just like any team, we can be a tough team to beat.”
Junior varsity: Western Michigan Christian defeated Muskegon Catholic Central, 66-36. Tyler Somers led the Warriors with 15 points, while Hayden Hubers added 14 and Brandon Fles added 12.
WMC girls hold off Muskegon Catholic
In the opening game of the night, the Western Michigan Christian girls basketball team survived a gritty defensive battle with rival Muskegon Catholic Central for a 43-33 win.
The Warriors opened the game with a 10-4 lead, held a 20-16 lead at halftime, and extended their lead to 32-23 entering the final quarter of play.
Junior Aubrey Goorman scored 17 points to lead the Warriors (9-8, 4-4 Lakes Eight), while Anna Sytsema scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in her first career start.
“It was a defensive battle throughout the game,” said WMC head coach Jeremy Goorman. “Both teams were physical and created turnovers. Anna Sytsema had a good game in her first start of the year and Harlie Hubers (seven points) did a nice job off the bench scoring at important times in the second half.”
Talia Tyler finished with nine points for the Crusaders (7-10, 2-6 Lakes Eight), while Isabelle Bertolone added eight.
“We had a gameplan to slow down Talia Tyler for them, and we were able to hold her to nine points,” added Goorman. “I am so proud of Cassie Kingma. We ask her to do a lot of things. She rebounded, ran the offense, and guarded Catholic's best player. I often forget that she is running around non-stop, but she did a little bit of everything for us tonight.”
Junior varsity: Western Michigan Christian defeated Muskegon Catholic Central, 42-32. Jenna Houskamp led the Warriors with 15 points, followed by Peyton Allen and Katie Johnson with six each.
Slow start sinks Fruitport girls at Mona Shores
The Fruitport girls basketball team fell behind 22-7 to host Mona Shores on Friday, and would never recover, falling to the Sailors, 61-36.
Senior Iyana Brown scored 13 point, and added five assists and four blocks to pace the Trojans, while fellow senior Katie Veihl added five points. Emily Winicki, Jaydie Hanks, Izzy Raven and Kirsten Sweet all added four points each.