Country Day blows past Kingsley, Jackson Northwest takes care of business in its semifinal and the two play for Class B titleBasketball  |
Grand Rapids - Detroit County Day's Maxine Moore never paid much attention to those critics who believed capturing back-to-back state titles was a longshot.
It seems the Yellowjackets may once again have the last laugh after rolling over Kingsley 70-54 before a crowd of 3,603 at Friday's Class B semifinal at Calvin College's Van Noord Arena.
After losing two key players from last year's state champion team, Moore said it was common to hear loose talk from opponents during off-season AAU tournaments. The buzz typically included how the program's reign of playing in 15 state finals since 1995 was at an end.
Moore, who contributed 11 points and seven rebounds against No. 2-ranked Kingsley, said she easily shook off the comments.
"Yeah, I heard it," Moore admitted. "And we do have kind of a brand new team. We have players who haven't played in too many big games. Absolutely we heard that, but we just said, 'OK, we'll see you in Grand Rapids.' We have a lot of girls who want to be state champions again."
Top-ranked Country Day (22-4) will go for a third state title in four years in Saturday's 6:15 p.m. Class B final against Jackson Northwest, a 56-47 winner in its semifinal against Michigan Center.
It will be Northwest's first state final.
Country Day did start sluggishly against Kingsley, which had won its previous six tournament games by an average of 21 points. Kingsley led 12-9 with 2:45 left in the first quarter before the Yellowjackets put together one of its better offensive quarters of the season in the second quarter. Country Day scored 29 points to take a 43-28 halftime lead, then bumped the margin to 61-36 by the start of the fourth.
Country Day coach Frank Orlando said one of the reasons the program is so successful is that no one worries about who has graduated. Players are replaced and the program is restocked by the next players in line, he said.
"We don't think about losing kids. We won last year with two great girls who aren't here," he said. "But we've got others who are doing a fantastic job. We've built a team this year with players who depend on each other. They can play."
Maddie Novak led Country Day with 20 points while Kaela Webb added 15 points, eight assists and four steals. Adrian Folks had 10 points.
Kingsley's Jalynn Brumfield had 14 points, Rebekah Crosby had 12 and Brittany Bowman 11.
Orlando said the huge second quarter turned the contest completely around.
"We decided to stay with man-to-man and tried to play up-tempo," he said. "It proved out the better we ran, the more effective we were."
Webb overcame early foul trouble, a situation which could have greatly slowed the team's offense in the middle two quarters.
"She's a senior, she knows how to stay from getting that fourth or fifth foul," Orlando said. "I trust her."
Kingsley coach Matt Schelich said his team failed to take advantage of two strengths which rarely fail the Stags, which scored at least 70 points nine times this season.
"We do two things - we create points off turnovers and we hit 6-8 3-pointers a game," he said. "This was not what we were looking for. Their guards were phenomenal in every which way but loose. It was a matter of how much damage they can do. Speed kills."
Jackson Northwest (24-1) scored 13 of the game's first 17 points and never looked back. The Mounties led 27-22 at the half and virtually sealed the win with an 11-0 run to start the third quarter.
Sydney Shafer had 21 points, 13 rebounds, and six steals while Jozie Bontrager had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Ella Bontrager 11 points.
Masyn Shannon had 14 points for Michigan Center (27-2).
"We made the plays when we had to, including making big shots around the perimeter," Northwest coach Ryan Carroll said. "We weren't perfect, there are still things we're trying to figure out.
"It comes down to making plays, crashing the board and stopping runs. That's huge for us."Tweet