By Mitchell Boatman

NORTON SHORES – The Western Michigan Christian girl’s basketball team finally got over the hump.

After losing to Kent City in districts two years in a row, the Warriors broke through with a 53-45 upset of the Eagles on Friday to claim their first Class C district championship since 2013.

“Being the underdog, it feels great,” said WMC coach Jeremy Goorman, whose team won the championship on its home court. “Finally, we got over the hump and beat a good team.”

Aubrey Goorman goes up for the shot over Kent City’s No. 3 Teanna McCuaig. Photo/Jason Goorman

The Warriors will be embracing the same underdog role as they head to regionals next week. They will play Springport on Tuesday at Calvin Christian High School in Grandville.

“The good thing is our record probably doesn’t compare to theirs,” Goorman said about Springport. “They might overlook us a little bit.”

Goorman’s daughter, Aubrey, said sharing the championship with family was a great feeling.

This is her father’s first season as head coach, and he’s assisted by her grandfather, former WMC boys coaching legend Jim Goorman.

“It means so much,” said Aubrey Goorman, who led the Warriors with 18 points. “We played countless hours together in the gym while I was growing up, and it just feels so great to be able to share it with him and my grandpa.”

She added that a district rematch with Kent City has been on the Warriors’ minds for a while.

“We knew we would probably get them in the finals, so we were preparing for them all season,” Aubrey Goorman said.

The game was a battle throughout, with neither team able to pull away.

Kent City standout Kaitlyn Geers drives left against WMC’s Cassie Kingma. Photo/Jason Goorman

Both teams struggled to take care of the ball, especially early on. Kent City turned the ball over 23 times, while the Warriors coughed it up 18 times.

Kent City controlled the first quarter, leading by as many as five points and taking a 13-10 lead into the second.

The Warriors responded in the second quarter with a pair of 6-0 runs and took a 22-20 lead into halftime. Aubrey Goorman had 12 points in the first half for WMC, while Kaitlyn Geers led Kent City with nine.

The WMC offense caught fire midway through the third quarter, going on a 15-6 run to extend the lead to 37-28. The Eagles battled back and closed their deficit to 39-32 at the buzzer.

Kent City closed the gap to three points with 5:40 left in the game, but a timely 8-0 spurt by WMC closed the door on the Eagles’ three-peat hopes.

Goorman said many players contributed to the victory, including Anna Sytsema, who has been recovering from a concussion but still scored 14 points.

“We just started her last week and she played phenomenal,” he said.

Geers led all scorers with 19 points. Paige Mortensen added nine for Kent City.