By Seth Vanderwest
KENT CITY–The Kent City girls basketball team hosted the Pirates of Hart on Tuesday in a matchup of two of the top Division 3 programs in the state. The Eagles came away with a 58-52 victory, handing Hart their first loss of the year.
The Pirates fell behind early but made a comeback bid in the third quarter, at one point leading Kent City by six points. However, in the fourth quarter, the Eagles reclaimed the lead and chewed out the clock for the final three and a half minutes of play to secure the win.
Kent City jumped out to a 15-6 lead in the first quarter.
“We didn’t do the things I know we can do – whether it’s because of nerves or just coming out flat,” said Hart coach Travis Rosema. “We also didn’t have school today, and historically when we don’t have school we play poorly.”
Hart’s struggles continued into the second quarter, and they entered the halftime break down 25-18. The lone bright spot of the half was Abby Hicks, who scored 9 of her 11 points before the break.
For Kent City, things were clicking on offense and they were stifling Hart’s Addi Hovey, who only had 2 points through the first half.
“Our plan was to slow them down and not allow them to get offensive rebounds,” said Kent City coach Aleah Holcomb. “And I think in the first half we did that well.”
Hart came out energized in the third quarter, scoring 26 points and attacking the Eagles hard on the offensive glass. Aspen Boutell had 10 points in the third, many off of offensive rebounds. The Pirates turned a 6 point deficit into a 5 point lead, going into the fourth quarter up 42-37.
Kent City’s Hailey Kamphuis hit two big 3-point shots early in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles were able to sneak ahead 49-45 with 3:45 left to play. Kent City began to run time off the clock with Hart having just 3 team fouls, and the Pirates were forced to foul four times before getting the ball back.
Despite three 3-pointers by Addison Hovey in the final four minutes, Kent City hung on for the win. The Eagles shot 9-of-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch.
Kent City’s Maddie Geers led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Lexie Bowers with 19 and Hailey Kamphuis with 11.
Hovey finished with 19 points for Hart, followed by Boutell with 13 and Abby Hicks with 11.
“Our free throws and our ball-handling were key factors,” said Holcomb. “Without players that can handle the ball, there’s no way we could stall for four minutes.”
“Offensively, we were stale- just not moving a lot,” said Rosema. “Defensively, just understanding who their shooters were and getting out on them was a struggle.”
Hart slips to 4-1 and will next take on Potter’s House this Friday.
Kent City improves to 3-2 and will take on Northpointe Christian next Wednesday in the Cornerstone University Tournament.