Local Sports Journal

It’s a long season.

That means a team that started out slow has a chance to gain its balance in time to play some meaningful late-season games.

Montague (9-9, 6-7) is one of those teams, starting slow but building momentum as things unfold.

And that was Mason County Central’s test Tuesday night.

“Montague has gotten a lot better,” said MCC head coach Jeff Tucka, following his squad’s narrow 65-58 win over the Wildcats. “I give them a lot of credit for the strides that they’ve made.”

It was an important league win for the Spartans, as they sit just one game back of second-place Whitehall, two back from first-place Shelby, in the West Michigan Conference race.

It was a night of high-scoring performances, led by the host Spartans’ Kody Ambrose 24 points.

Tuka was appreciative of his senior guard’s fine, versatile play.

“Kody Ambrose was great tonight,” said Tuka. “He had 24 points but his defensive presence and effort all around needs to be commended.”

The Spartans (11-4, 9-3) jumped out to the 20-12 lead, but the Wildcats moved within four, 30-26, at the break.

Montague continued to chip away at the MCC lead in the third, trailing by just three points after three. The Spartans won it in the final frame, outscoring the Wildcats 21-17 to escape with the win.

Johnny Shafer totaled 16 points and 11 boards, and Coltyn Tyndall finished with six points, seven rebounds and dished out nine assists for MCC.

“Shafer is really coming along and Tyndall played a good all-around game,” said Tuka.

Sophomore Jacob Buchberger and senior forward Luke VanBoxel led Montague with 19 points apiece, and Caleb Semelbauer added 10 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

“This was a fun game,” said Tuka. “It was a competitive and clean West Michigan Conference game.”