By Craig Beilfuss

HOLTON—The Hart Pirates were in total control of their district girls basketball match-up with Western Michigan Christian on Friday evening in Holton and led by ten 33-23 at the seven minute mark of the third quarter, before the Warriors, led by senior Kyla Wiersema embarked on a 19-0 run to take control the remainder of the way en route to a 61-47 district championship title.

Wiersema finished with a game high 25 points and six rebounds, with nine of those points coming in the Warrior third quarter run.

The Hart defense gave WMC fits early on though.

The Pirates jumped out to an 18-13 lead after the first eight minutes of action. Addison Hovey and Abby Hicks scored six points apiece for Hart in the opening period, while Wiersema kept WMC within striking distance hitting for nine points in the opening quarter.

Hicks tossed in seven points in the second quarter for Hart while Maddie Wiersema kept the Warriors close behind with six points in the second stanza. The Pirates manged an 11-10 scoring advantage and went into the halftime break with a 29-23 lead.

What a game! The momentum was definitely on the Pirates side in the second quarter and we were reeling,” said WMC coach Jeremy Goorman.

Maddie (Wiersema) and Kyla had two fouls in the second quarter. Hart did a nice job attacking our defense by taking it to the basket. Kyla ended up with three fouls at the end of the first half. Defensively Hart took us out of our game with their intense man to man pressure. We felt fortunate going into half time only down six,” Goorman said.

Hovey and Aspen Boutell hit the first two shots for Hart in the third quarter and the Warriors found themselves trailing 33-23.

From that point on, Kyla Wiersema and her Warrior teammates tightened the clamps on the Pirate offense and WMC went on a 19-0 run. Hart didn’t score another bucket until :05-seconds remained in the quarter when Boutell hit three crucial free throws, to close the Warrior lead to 42-36 entering the fourth quarter.

Other than Wiersema scoring nine third quarter points, Ashley Folkema tossed in a field goal to go with a free throw, Lexi Daggett hit a 3-pointer and Maddie Wiersema and Libby Mast each tossed in two points respectively.

In the beginning of the third, Hart scored two quick baskets and went up 10. Fortunately, Maddie came up with a few rebounds and put backs,” Goorman said.

Then we had some quick run outs and score a few fast break buckets to tie the game up at 33. Lexie Daggett hit a huge 3 to put us up by three points. Throughout the quarter we did a much better job of executing our offense and got the ball to Kyla and Maddie. Ashley did a fantastic job of starting the offense in the right positions. Libby Mast and Lexie moved so much better in the third quarter. I thought that was key factor in taking the lead. Lexie set some big time picks on Addie Hovey to get Kyla open several times and Libby Mast made a perfect pass to the open player.”

Hart was forced to play catch-up ball the entire fourth quarter, however WMC cashed in at the charity stripe where they hit 11-of-18 free throws. Folkema hit eight of those free throws. The Warriors racked up a 19-11 fourth quarter scoring advantage to secure the 14 point margin win.

I am so proud of all the girls battling some self doubt at half and coming back to win the game,” said Goorman.

Our seniors lead this team with positive attitudes. The underclassman have followed their lead. It is not always easy to believe when the game gets difficult, but they did one stop at a time. The senior girls (Maddie, Kyla, Libby, Haley) have won three straight district titles.”

Joining Kyla Wiersema in double digits for WMC were Folkema and Madision Wiersema who each finished with 13 points respectively for the Warriors. Wiersema finished with a game high 15 rebounds.

WMC made 18-of-31 free throws and hit only one 3-point shot.

Sophomore Abby Hicks led the Hart offensive attack with a team high 17 points. She was joined in double figures by Boutell who finished with 14 points and Hovey who chipped in with 12 points.

The Pirates were 14-of-22 from the free throw line and hit just two 3-point shots.

The Warriors who improved to 17-4 overall, move on to face the third ranked Eagles of Kent City in regional action Tuesday evening. Kent City comes in undefeated with a 22-0 record and a CSAA-Silver conference championship. The Eagles defeated Morley-Stanwood on Friday evening 36-33 to win the district held by the Mohawks. Game time on Tuesday is set for 5:30 p.m.

Hart finishes the season with an overall record of 17-4 and a West Michigan Conference championship where they finished with a perfect 14-0 record.

Check out photos from the action shot by Leo Valdez.