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Plainwell turns up the heat in the seocnd half, defeats Otesgo, 51-38, and clinches division title

Basketball   | Alysia Babcock

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Otsego - In one of the oldest rivalries in the state, one that dates back to 1896, Plainwell defeated Otsego 51-38 on Friday to clinch the Wolverine Conference East Division title.

Plainwell (15-0), ranked No. 8 in the girls Class B poll, is 8-0 in the division.

Otsego (9-5), which had won four straight, is 6-2.

Plainwell had a decisive height advantage with three players 6-foot or taller and three more on the roster at 5-11. Otsego has one player as tall as 6-foot.

According to Otsego Coach Tony Kushar, being at a height disadvantage is nothing new and their game plan takes that into account.

“(Plainwell) frustrated us", Kushar said. “They had second and third chance rebounds."

Otsego had prepared for this in practice.

Plainwell coach Tim Rieman’s game plan was simple.

“Let’s just win the division,” he said. “Let’s clinch it.”

It’s Plainwell’s second title in three seasons and Rieman said he scheduled tough games against Class A teams, like Mattawan, Battle Creek Lakeview and Portage Northern to prepare his team for games like this.

Mackenzie Pulver got Plainwell off to a fast start by making two 3-pointers in the first four minutes.

Otsego’s top scorer, Allie Thiel (13 points), made a 3-pointer later in the quarter but Otsego still trailed 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Plainwell picked of the intensity on the defensive end and when Shelby Hawkes made a 3-pointer with 2:38 left the Trojans led by 13. Plainwell settled for a 25-14 halftime lead.

Thiel kept the game close to open the second half as her 3-pointer pulled her team to within six.

That’s when Sarah Morrell provided a spark for Plainwell. Morrell responded with a strong drive to the basket for a score and followed that with a steal.

Plainwell led 36-27 at the end of the third.

Plainwell quickly took control in the fourth. Foreign exchange student Martyna Piorra (Poland) forced a couple of turnovers that she turned into points as she twice passed to Morrell for easy baskets and the Trojans led 42-29 with 5:57 left.

Morrell and Piorra led Plainwell with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

“They know where each other are on the court,” Rieman said.

Morrell said the halftime talk was all she and her teammates needed to take control. Morrell’s play on both ends of the court proved instrumental in the big win.

“For us to hold them to 38 was really good for us,” Rieman said. “They run a tough half court press and (they) beat us in districts last year. Our plan was to attack every chance we got.”

With 1,198 points Morell is the school’s all-time leading scorer. Rieman said Morrell has earned the right to be considered for all-state.

Morrell plans to attend Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids next year.