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Senior backcourt tandem helps NorthPointe Christian make first semifinal appearance

Basketball   | Brian VanOchten

Senior backcourt tandem helps NorthPointe Christian make first semifinal appearance

ZEELAND – As far as the Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian boys basketball team is concerned, their season is just beginning. The Mustangs had two goals from the outset: Earn the school's first trip to the Breslin Center and don't stop until they bring home the Class C championship trophy.

So far, so good.

NorthPointe Christian pulled away from Shelby in the second half of Tuesday night's quarterfinal matchup for a 48-36 victory to clinch a spot in the semifinal round at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

“Northpointe has never been to the Breslin,” third-year Mustangs coach Jared Reddell said. “It's my eighth year coaching and I've never (been there) personally. I've lost in two quarterfinals in the past at East Grand Rapids.

“It's nice for us to be able to go there, but we've got unfinished business Thursday. Our goal is to be playing Saturday. It's going to take a complete team effort to win the next one,” he added. “Our goal was to get there, but we're definitely not satisfied. We have more goals ahead of us that we want to reach.”

NorthPointe Christian (20-5) relied on seniors Preston Huckaby, the team's lead-by-example point guard, and Andrew Holesinger, a shooting guard who prefers the postseason spotlight, to control the tempo.

Huckaby led all scorers with 19 points and Holesinger finished with 13.

“I think we're pretty confident,” the 5-foot-11 Huckaby said. “We're playing at a pretty high level.

We've stepped it up since the first game of the playoffs, so I'm pretty confident in our team right now.

“It's just one goal, but we've got to keep moving forward,” he said of an impending showdown against Boyne City (21-5) at 1 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. “We want to go to the state finals and win a state championship.”

Holesinger exuded confidence about achieving both goals.

He nailed a 15-foot jumper from the left baseline against Shelby (23-2) as the third-quarter buzzer sounded. His basket put the Mustangs ahead 38-26 and left little doubt about the outcome of the contest.

“I felt like we were making a run and the momentum was shifting our way the whole third quarter,” Holesinger said. “We held them to six points on defense. I was feeling confident going into the fourth quarter.”

Huckaby and Holesinger did all of NorthPointe Christian's scoring in the final period. Each netted five points, while Shelby struggled to get much going offensively against the ball pressure in the backcourt.

“I'm excited,” Holesinger said with a huge smile. “We set these goals at the start of the season. One of them was to make it to the Breslin, so we've achieved that. The other is to win state. We've got two more games to win.”

Kual Nhial, a 6-6 senior center, who has been NorthPointe Christian's leading scorer in the postseason, had seven points.

Shelby got 12 points from senior center Jeffrey Beckman and 10 from senior guard Caleb Anderson.

The Tigers trailed 16-9 at the end of the first quarter, but went on an 8-0 scoring spree to open the second quarter and grab a 17-16 lead. Danny Beckman and Anderson hit 3-point field goals sandwiched around a Jimmy Hughey layup.

The Mustangs responded with an 8-0 run of their own and never looked back.

“I don't think it was anything I said. We have a great group of guys who refuse to lose, especially our leaders,” Redell said of his team's second-half surge after leading 24-20 at the intermission.

“Andrew Holseinger goes in there at halftime and says, 'I am not losing this game.' That's his mentality, and it rubs off on other guys. I think that's a big part of it,” he added. “Preston is more of a lead-by-example guy. He's a quiet leader.”ZEELAND – As far as the Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian boys basketball team is concerned, their season is just beginning. The Mustangs had two goals from the outset: Earn the school's first trip to the Breslin Center and don't stop until they bring home the Class C championship trophy.

So far, so good.

NorthPointe Christian pulled away from Shelby in the second half of Tuesday night's quarterfinal matchup for a 48-36 victory to clinch a spot in the semifinal round at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

“Northpointe has never been to the Breslin,” third-year Mustangs coach Jared Reddell said. “It's my eighth year coaching and I've never (been there) personally. I've lost in two quarterf