West Michigan Roundup

Written by
Nolan Unthank

West Michigan Roundup, Monday 2/22/21

Last night featured an instant classic SMAC matchup between Lakeshore and K-Central along with a few upsets from around Southwest Michigan. Paw Paw upsetting Otsego was certainly surprising but with Finlay Tate and Mitchell Mason, they are capable of beating anyone. Previously undefeated Howardsville Christian lost in a blowout 80-52 to the Kalamazoo Homeschoolers, which was another interesting result. In the lone OK-Conference game tonight Middleville-TK was able to defeat Ottawa Hills 59-55, the Trojans are playing good ball these days with senior Austin VanElst leading them. Lastly, in a D2 vs. D3 showdown, Benton Harbor defeated Niles Brandywine 62-54. Brandywine is never afraid to throw some tough games on the schedule as they have lost to both St. Joseph and Benton Harbor in competitive games.

Best Win: Paw Paw over Otsego 67-60

Paw Paw has been an odd team to evaluate this season with an ugly loss to Allegan, but last night they were able to dethrone the kings of the Wolverine Conference. The Red Wolves handed Otsego their first conference loss since December 8, 2017, a streak that spanned 44 games. The Wolverine Conference title is still up for grabs with Edwardsburg currently leading at (3-0), but Paw Paw will most likely have to run the table.

Next Best: K-Central over Lakeshore 53-52

K-Central is an extremely young team with just one senior (Gerald Crawford) but the Maroon Giants played fantastic down the stretch erasing a 12 point deficit with 5 minutes remaining to defeat Lakeshore.

Best Shot: Hutch Ward’s three-pointer

Ward, a sophomore at K-Central, is a certified sniper who knocked down 5 three-pointers last night including the go-ahead three with ten seconds remaining to complete the comeback

Game I Attended: Kalamazoo Central 53, Lakeshore 52

The biggest matchup of the night across West Michigan was between (4-0) Lakeshore and (2-1) Kalamazoo Central. K-Central was slow out of the gate struggling to score while Lakeshore senior forward Gavin Foster scored 6 early points giving them a 14-7 lead after one quarter. The second quarter was very similar for K-Central who struggled to find an offensive rhythm. Lakeshore on the other hand was excelling thanks to sophomore guard Grant Gondrezick II who was drawing fouls left and right. He scored 10 points in the quarter going 5-6 from the line giving Lakeshore a 28-19 lead at halftime. The third quarter was when I was expecting a K-Central comeback, but it wasn’t happening as Lakeshore would hit a shot every time KC made a move. Leading by nine points after three-quarters Lakeshore looked in control. With 5:11 left in the fourth quarter Lakeshore led 46-34, but then things changed. Lakeshore began turning the ball over and looked less aggressive than they did earlier in the game. K-Central slowly chipped away at the lead and they were trailing 50-45 with 1:12 to go. Hutch Ward was fouled shooting a three for K-Central and hit all three free throws making it 50-48. Ward came up clutch again with ten-seconds remaining hitting a three pointer to take a 53-52 lead and then Lakeshore’s JJ Bushu missed a floater for the win. It was an incredible comeback by K-Central led by 18 points from Hutch Ward including five threes while Scott Hughes added 15 points. Lakeshore was led by 22 points from sophomore Grant Gondrezick II and JJ Bushu added 11 points. Lakeshore is still a very dangerous team to watch out for this season especially as they dropped down to Division 2.