Geers’ late layup gives Kent City girls a 48-46 win over Shelby in Class C regionals

By Jacob Arvidson

MORLEY – Kaitlyn Geers came up big all night for the Kent City girls basketball team.

But her most important plays came at the very end, when they mattered most.LSJ Logo incert

Geers hit a driving layup with 1.5 seconds remaining on Tuesday, then stole an inbound pass, giving Kent City a thrilling 48-46 victory over Shelby in a Class C regional semifinal contest at Morley-Stanwood High School.

The Eagles, now 20-3 on the season, advance to the regional final on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (17-5), a team than handed Kent City a 20-point loss in January.

But if Geers performs the way she did against Shelby – scoring a game-high 26 points in a pressure-filled contest – Thursday’s game is bound to be much closer. “It’s typical of how she has been playing in the tournament,” Kent City head coach Scott Carlson said about Geers. “Offensively she has been a force and she has made some key plays for us.

“At this time of the year anybody can do anything. We’re just excited to be playing in the finals.”

The situation did not look promising in the early going for Kent City.

Shelby led 12-5 after one quarter, thanks largely to its domination of the boards. The Tigers’ leading rebounder, Tori Mussell, raked in seven rebounds the first eight minutes alone.

The Eagles needed a spark in the second quarter, and found it in their full court press.

“We created a ton of turnovers,” Carlson said. “We fully expected to do it. The girls executed it well and we got a lot of steals and a lot of turnovers.”

The defensive success translated into more offense for Kent City. The Eagles hit five 3-pointers in the second quarter and closed the first half with a 13-3 run to cut Shelby’s lead to 29-28.

Jenny Beckman had 13 points and five rebounds in the first half for the Tigers.

Shelby clung to a slim lead through the third quarter and into the fourth. But with 4:05 remaining in the contest, Kent City junior Meghan Boyd’s free throw gave the Eagles their first lead of the night, 42-41.

With 1:07 left and Kent City leading 46-43, Shelby senior Sarajane Fortier drove into the lane, drew a foul and found a way to finish her layup through the contact. With the crowd roaring, Fortier knocked down the pressure free-throw to tie the score at 46-46.

That set the scene for Kent City’s final possession. Carlson declined to call a time out and decided to let the girls design a play of their own.

“We were going to get the last shot,” Carlson said. “We weren’t going to take a timeout to let them set up. We were going to roll with it, and we did.”

Geers found herself with the ball on the top of the key with just over five seconds remaining. She drove into the heart of the Shelby defense, through three Shelby defenders, and sunk the deciding layup.

“Anytime she’s got the ball, I like the look,” Carlson said. “She’s a heck of a player and she had a big night.”

Shelby had one last chance to force up a shot with just over a second remaining, but Geers picked off the inbound pass to seal the game.

“I knew our team would eventually show up, and they did,” Carlson said. “We didn’t have our best game, but the girls battled through and found a way to win.”

Boyd totaled 11 points for the Eagles.

Beckman finished the night with 15 points and eight rebounds for Shelby, which finished the season 15-9. Chloe Sillman added another 10 points.

The Tigers ended up outrebounding the Eagles 44-26, due largely to Mussell’s 15 boards.

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