Local Sports Journal

A Kyle Wright shot with 2.5 seconds remaining lifted Newaygo over Fremont, 52-50 in front of a packed house at Newaygo High School for the Class B district championship.

Newaygo set up the shot for Wright on a play originally designed for him to go baseline. But the senior guard crossed over and found an opening at the elbow from 15 feet out and drained it.

“We designed a play for Ryan to go baseline off a pick,” said Newaygo coach Terry Bourke, whose team won their first district championship since 1996. “We waited for the clock to roll, found the screen, but instead Ryan crossed over  and hit the shot for us.”

Wright finished with 15 points while 6-foot-7 teammate Dakota Queen poured in a game-high 18 points.

The Lions were able to set up the play after getting the ball with 17.5 second left and calling a tim out.

“I think it’s huge for our program,” said Bourke. “I’m extremely happy with our kids. At one point, we were 9-5 in our season and we just decided to start playing.”

Newaygo has now won eight straight games since that turning point and head to the regional semifinals where they will face Mason County Central in the Petoskey regional.

“Just really happy for them and how they handled the adversity tonight and through this season,” said Bourke.

The first half saw Newaygo struggle against Fremont, falling behind 13-10 after the first quarter.

But a change in defense helped set up a Lions turnaround before the half. Newaygo’s 1-3-1 trap cut the deficit to 24-20 at the break and set up a big third-quarter run.

Newaygo ran off with an 18-7 edge and a 38-31 lead after the third. But Fremont responded by putting up 19 points in the final quarter.

“We switched to a trapping defense and rode it into the second half, got a lot of turnovers off of it,” said Bourke. “We keyed on (Dylan) Krim to take them out of their rhythm.

Zack Knight put in 11 points while Cole Chesley helped Newaygo’s rebounding effort with eight. Dakota Queen grabbed seven rebounds with three blocks.

Krim led Fremont with 14 points and Dan Geeting scored 12. Blake Siersema came through with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots and Jacob Kaastra added eight points for the Packers.