MUSKEGON – Newaygo’s quest at reaching Michigan State University’s Breslin Center in back-to-back seasons came up a couple wins short.

The Lions, last season’s state runner-up, ran into an outstanding Grand Rapids West Catholic squad in Thursday’s Division 3 regional championship at Orchard View High School, and the Falcons soared to a 55-29 victory, improving their season record to a sparkling 23-1.

Newaygo sees its season end at 22-2.

“Extremely proud of the girls’ effort tonight,” said Newaygo head coach Nate Thomasma. “Our team played hard and with toughness but we just didn’t execute the way we normally do. We had too many turnovers and gave up too many offensive rebounds, which was the big difference in the game.

“We competed well on the defensive end but we were not good enough offensively to win a regional final.”

Newaygo found itself in a huge hole right from the start, as West Catholic jumped out to a 16-2 lead after one quarter and was able to extend its lead by a few points after the second and third.

Jaxi Long led the Lions with 15 points, four rebounds, and three steals, while Emmerson Goodin had nine points and six rebounds.

“Can’t say enough positive things about our seniors,” Thomasma said. “They have played a large role in helping build the program up. Making three straight regional finals, with a state final appearance last year, is a difficult task to say the least.

“They have provided great leadership for our young kids.”

Photos from the game shot by Tim Smith.