By Mitchell Boatman


For Montague girls basketball coach Cody Kater, that was the difference in his team’s 40-36 Class B district semifinal victory over archrival Whitehall on Wednesday at Orchard View High School.

“We kept on preaching belief,” said Kater, whose Wildcats lost to Whitehall twice during the regular season. “The first time we played them it was just not our game. The second game we were coming off a back-to-back, so we were a little lethargic. We knew that we were going to have to come out and play hard, and that’s what it’s all about.”

“We’ve been battling Whitehall all season, so this meant a lot to us,” said senior Grace Meacham, who led Montague with 10 points. “Everyone was in a good mental mindset. Everyone knew what they had to do.”

The Wildcats now move on to Friday’s district championship game against West Michigan Conference champion Oakridge. The contest will be at Orchard View at 7 p.m.

Montague’s No. 13 Braquelle Osborne goes up for the shot against Whitehall’s Sierra Spann. Photo/Leo Valdez

Montague led by as many as 12 points early on, and by nine with six minutes to play, but the Vikings didn’t go down without a fight.

Whitehall went on an 11-0 run to take a 34-32 lead, their first of the game, with 2:52 to play. But the Wildcats didn’t trail for long. Freshman Braquelle Osborne hit a huge three-pointer to put Montague up 35-34 with 2:18 remaining.

After the Vikings scored again, Allyssa Bobian nailed a go-ahead triple to make it 38-36 Montague with 51 seconds left.

Montague forced two turnovers and knocked down a pair of free-throws down the stretch to close it out.

“We started hitting shots in the fourth quarter, but those girls have hit shots like that all year,” Kater said. “One of our goals for today was to stay calm, no matter what happens. They have enough confidence and belief to do something (in the big moment).”

The Wildcats gave themselves a big cushion early thanks to strong defense. Montague led 10-0 after the first quarter and didn’t allow a point until the 5:12 mark of the second.

“We were really aggressive and we made them earn everything,” said Kater, whose team forced 21 turnovers on the night.

Whitehall got back in the game with a 10-4 run in the middle of the second quarter, led by Greta Hosticka. The freshman scored eight points during the stretch.

Montague led 20-11 at halftime.

The Vikings continued to close the gap in the third, outscoring Montague 12-6 in the quarter to draw within three points at 26-23.

Montague opened the fourth with back-to-back threes from Kat Moreau and Bobian to go up by nine, before the hectic finish.

Bobian finished with nine points on three triples for the Wildcats. Morgan Osborne added six points.

Hosticka led Whitehall with 10 points while Kacy Jefferies scored eight.

The Vikings finished the season with an 11-11 record.