By Craig Beilfuss
The awards keep piling up for the Kent City Eagles girls basketball team as the Associated Press announced its Division 3 all-state basketball teams.
Kent City’s Lexie Bowers and Western Michigan Christian’s Kyla Wiersema were both honored as first-team selections.
Eagle coach Aleah Holcomb, in her first season, was named the Division 3 Coach of The Year by the AP.
Bowers led the team in scoring 16.5 points per game as the Eagles advanced to the Division 3 state title game.
“Lexie stepped up for us in a big way this year,” Holcomb said. “She led us in points, assists and steals for the season. Lexie is not afraid to be the one that takes the big shots. She actually invites it.
“Her competitiveness on both ends of the floor gave us momentum to be able to win games,” Holcomb said. “She has big expectations for herself and for our team. She will be a great leader next year.”
Western Michigan Christian senior Kyla Wiersema was named to the first team, while her twin sister, Maddie, was an honorable mention selection.
The duo led WMC to a 17-5 record, a share of the Lakes 8 Activities Conference championship and a district title before falling to Kent City in the regionals.
Kyla Wiersema led WMC in scoring with 23 points per game, a school record, while Maddie averaged 12 points per game.
“Kyla is one of the top athletes to ever go to WMC,” said coach Jeremy Goorman. “She is a Division 3 first-team all-state player for volleyball and basketball. She is 6-0 tall and explosive. She is a player who plays above the competition and often times by the rim.”
Kyla Wiersema, a three-year starter, finished with 1,039 points, which is second-most in WMC history for girls basketball.
The Warriors won 3 district crowns and 2 league championships. On the academic side, she has a 3.89 grade-point average.
“Kyla sums up what it means to be a Christian inside and out,” Goorman said.
Maddie Geers was a second-team choice for Kent City.
“Maddie is one of the most versatile players on our team,” Holcomb said, “She often guards the other team’s most talented player and is a real threat from wherever she plays on the offensive end. She will be a key component to our success for the next two years.”
Holcomb directed the Eagles through a perfect regular season and back to the Division 3 state championship game, where they fell to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 54-50.
Prior to becoming the Kent City head coach, Holcomb coached the Eagles JV team for 5 years. She is a Kent City graduate where she played four years of varsity basketball before moving on to play three years at Davenport University.
Maddie Wiersema made a strong impact for WMC this past season.
“Her strength and determination was hard for opposing teams to stop,” Goorman said. “She could score in bunches and excelled in the low post.”
Maddie averaged 9.2 rebounds per game, the second highest ever at WMC. She suffered a serious ankle sprain during a game against Ludington and that sidelined her four games.
“When she was out, we were not the same team” Goorman said “It took her several games to get back into form. She had one game of 17 rebounds and another game with 15 boards.”
The Hart Pirates had two starters named as honorable mention selections. Freshman Addi Hovey and junior Aspen Boutell were both chosen.
Hovey led Hart in scoring with 12.4 points per game while Boutell averaged 9.5 points per game.
“Having two players selected HM (honorable mention) all-state is a great honor for our program” Hart coach Travis Rosema said. “It’s a testament to the effort that not only these two girls give, but also their teammates who push them in practice everyday. Both Addi and Aspen are deserving as they are great athletes and great people.
Addi improved her 3-point shooting by staying after practice. She improved to 32 percent by season’s end.
“When I saw that Aspen had earned HM All State I was elated,” Rosema said. “Aspen has put in a lot of time and has made a ton of sacrifices to improve as a basketball player. I tell anyone who will listen that Aspen is the best on ball defender in the area.”
Shelby senior Kendall Zoulek also was an honorable mention selection. Zoulek led the Tigers to an 11-10 record this season averaging a team high 14.0 points per game.
“Kendall is a true leader,” Shelby coach Sarah Wolting said “She led by example and was a great mentor for some of our younger players. We are going to miss her leadership on and off the floor next year.”
Hart coach Rosema was named to the honorable mention team. Rosema led the Pirates to a 17-4 overall record and a WMC title with a 14-0 record.