By Craig Beilfuss
Both teams would struggle offensively in the early going as Hart held a 8-4 lead after the first eight minutes of play. The Pirates connected on two 3-point field goals and a two point shot, while Montague managed just to make one shot and two free throws.
Hart managed to go on a 11-0 spurt towards the end of the first quarter and up until the 4:15 mark of the second stanza to go up 16-4.
Montague answered with a run of their own, closing out the first half on a 10-2 run to cut the Hart lead to 18-16 going into the halftime break.
“We had momentum on our side and we failed to extend the lead,” said Hart coach Travis Rosema.
The Pirates went on a 9-2 run to open up the second half and led 29-18 with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Montague failed to go away, closing out the last portion of the quarter on a 6-2 spurt, which would leave the Wildcats trailing 30-24 entering the final eight minutes.
Both teams remained cold from the field as the Wildcats held the upper hand 12-7 in the fourth quarter. Hart failed to put distance between themselves and Montague, missing often from the free throw line.
Senior Maddie Meacham would get Montague within one, 37-36, with :35 seconds remaining, when she hit a bank shot from within the lane.
In the end the Hart defense would hold off the Wildcats.
Mariana VanAgtmael led Hart with 11 points while grabbing 4 rebounds and coming up with 5 steals. Addi Hovey tossed in 9 points and hauled down a team leading 10 rebounds to go along with 4 blocked shots. Aspen Boutell chipped in with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 6 steals and dished out 3 assists.
The Pirates would connect on five 3 point shots but shot a miserable 6-of-17 from the free throw line.
“We had a lot of energy tonight, said Hart head coach Travis Rosema.
“We forced a few things. I thought Audrey Aerts came in and played some great defense for us. The effort was good although our shooting was not to good, but overall defensively we really got after it, said an elated Hart coach Rosema.
Claire Meacham led Montague with 8 points and 9 rebounds, while Emma Dyer tossed in 7 points to go along with 3 rebounds. Kendall Osborne chipped in with 5 points, while grabbing a team high 10 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists.
I was pleased with our second half effort,” said Montague head coach Nick Thaler. “I believed going into this game that whichever team got the most 50/50 balls was going to be the victory. I thought that Hart simply got to more of those tonight.”
“Our girls could have easily given up down ten in the third quarter, but they decided to bear down and claw back into this game. This probably was not the cleanest game for us, or for them. I think we both left some points on the court. We are two really good defensive teams and when you get in games like this whoever executes better down the stretch usually has the edge. Hart has a nice team,” said Thaler.
Hart improves to 6-1 overall and remains perfect in West Michigan conference play with a 5-0 record. The Pirates will travel to Muskegon Oakridge on Friday evening.
Montague drops to 5-2 overall and is 4-1 in conference action. The Wildcats will play host to Ravenna on Friday evening.