By Craig Beilfuss
GRAND RAPIDS—The Kent City Eagles made it back to back regional championships on Thursday evening as they cruised past Grand Rapids Covenant Christian 46-32, in a MHSAA, Division 3 battle at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian school.
Junior Lexie Bowers and sophomore Maddie Geers led the way for the 2nd ranked Eagles, with Bowers going for a game high 19 points and Geers was right behind her with 16 points.
Bowers had the hot hand in the first half, while Geers sealed the deal for Kent City from the free throw line in the second half.
The Eagles got off to a sluggish start as the Chargers got out to an 8-6 lead after the first period of play. Kent City was limited to a bucket by Geers to go with a pair of free throws and a bucket by Bowers.
The second stanza is where Kent City took complete control of the game and forced Covenant Christian to play catch-up ball for the remainder of the night
Geers tied things up at 8-8 hitting the opening shot of the period.
Michelle Langerak put the Chargers back on top at 10-8 by hitting a two point basket.
From that point on Bowers put on a 3-point shooting clinic, scoring the remainder of the first half points. The sharp shooting guard went on a 15-0 run, hitting five consecutive 3-point shots putting Kent City in complete control with a commanding 23-10 halftime lead.
“I work on it a lot during practice,” said Bowers in regards to her 3-point shooting skills. “I’m only like 5’7” and so I have to really work on having a good shot. My whole family has kind of been that way.” Bowers credits her older sister Kenzie for some of her three point shooting abilities, a former Eagle and NCAA player at Illinois State.
The Eagles played ball control and were forced to slow down the tempo in the second half.
Bowers was whistled for her fourth personal foul with 3:17 remaining in the third quarter and Geers was called for her third foul at the 1:24 mark.
“They were stupid fouls, it was dumb,” Bowers said afterwards.
Kent City hit just one bucket in the quarter, however, went 7-of-9 from the free throw line. The Chargers put a slight dent in the Eagles lead with a 12-9 scoring advantage as Kent City went to the fourth quarter with a 32-22 lead.
Like they did on Tuesday evening against Western Michigan Christian, Kent City coach Aleah Holcomb turned the fourth quarter over to Geers and company by slowing the offensive tempo down and controlling the time of possession.
Kent City went 10-of-12 from the charity stripe during the final eight minutes, with Geers connecting on 8-of-10 free throws and Taryn Preston hitting a pair. Preston was instrumental in scoring the only two baskets of the quarter for the Eagles as they broke down the Covenant Christian defense.
Kent City wound up with a 14-10 scoring margin in the fourth quarter to secure the 14 point victory.
“This is great to go back to back to the quarterfinals,” said Bowers. “They (Covenant Christian) are a great team and it really was fun beating them.”
Rounding out the scoring for Kent City were Preston with eight points and Abby Pecynski who chipped in with three points. Preston also grabbed three rebounds. Geers had five rebounds and four steals and Bowers grabbed four rebounds and had two steals. Preston also brought down three rebounds. Kent City went 19-for-21 from the free throw line.
The Chargers offense was led by Chloe Kaptein with a team high 14 points and Lydia Meulenberg who tossed in 10 points.
Kent City improves to 24-0 on the season. The Eagles will travel to Edwardsburg on Tuesday, March 15 to take on Schoolcraft in quarterfinal action. Schoolcraft defeated Buchanan on Thursday evening 49-31 to advance on to the quarterfinal round.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.