By Ron Rop
The Tigers are heading to the Division 4 quarterfinals in girls basketball after dispatching four straight teams in the district and regional tournaments.
Now, Coach Tyrie Johnson’s team will take the court at 7 p.m. Tuesday to take on Adrian Lenawee Christian (18-6) in a game that will be played at Gull Lake High School.
The district title ended a 16-year drought for the Tigers in girls basketball.
“It’s been a hectic season of ups and downs,” Johnson said. “I’ve been trying to tell the girls to stay focused because we played tough teams during the regular season and they got frustrated with the losses.
“We are just trying to make something happen and make history for the community. We just want to bring a lot of hope back to our community.”
The Tigers (12-8) struggled, at times, during the regular season. In fact, the Tigers finished 5-5 in the Lakes 8 behind the likes of Ludington and Western Michigan Christian.
En route to the final eight in their division, the Tigers dispatched Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64-49 then won three straight games that went down to the wire.
The Tigers needed overtime to nip district host Muskegon Catholic Central 62-58 then moved into regionals and beat regional host Martin, 43-40, and won a regional title with a 43-41 victory over Gobles.
In the districts, it was Ty’Veonna Davis who scored 31 and 29 points in the two games. In the regionals, it was A’Neia Johnson who scored 13 against Martin and 19 against Gobles.
“All of our games have been competitive,” Johnson said. “But like I said, those beatings we took in the regular season helped prepare us and be ready for these types of games and we’e fought through them.”
What has been the key during this unprescedented run?
“We hang our hats on defense,” Johnson said. “We have some girls who we know can score, but when we’re not scoring, we hang our hat on defense.”
An infusion of talent from the jayvee team also has produced positive results for the Tigers. Ariell Trammell is a callup who has stepped in and sparked the defense.
Ta’Neshia Nolen, a sophomore, has added a spark to the Tigers as well with the ability to score and play defense.
“The ride has been great and the kids are loving it,” Johnson said. “The school has a lot more pride and we’re just trying hard and we’re in uncharted waters right now.
“It hasn’t sunk in for the girls yet and they don’t know the magnitude of what they have done,” Johnson said. “This is the first time we’e been this far since 2006 and I’m excited about it.”
And if the Tigers can pull out another victory on Tuesday, it’s off to the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
“I really want to get this next win to give them the feeling of what it’s like to play on a college floor,” Johnson said. “That’s our goal. The goal is to win it all, but you have to be in the last four to be the last one.”