(Feature photo is courtesy of Brendan Samuels)

By Craig Beilfuss

SHELBY–The showdown is set.

The Hart Pirates moved into the Division 3 regional championship game on Tuesday night with a 49-29 victory over Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian.

The result sets up a Hart-Kent City matchup for the regional championship at 6 p.m. Thursday at Shelby.

Hart got off to a sluggish offensive start as the Mustangs held a 9-8 lead after the first eight minutes of action.

The Pirates’ defense limited NorthPointe Christian to just three points in the second stanza while Hart scored 11 points to take a 19-12 lead at the half..

Junior guard Abby Hicks gave the Hart offense some offensive spark in the third period by scoring six points of her game-high 18 points. In the quarter, the Pirates extended their lead to 33-23 by outscoring the Mustangs 14-11. Hicks also had seven steals, seven rebounds and dishing out three assists.

“Hicks did a really good job of getting to the basket,” said Hart coach Travis Rosema. “Just her drive and her motor to want to be good. She is unbelievable. She makes mistakes, but what she does over the whole game makes up for it.”

Hart secured the game from the free-throw during the final eight minutes by making 7-of-9. They canned 18-of-23 from the charity stripe and closed out the final eight minutes with a 16-6 scoring advantage.

Joining Hicks in double digits were senior guard Aspen Boutell and sophomore forward Addi Hovey, who each had 11 points. Hovey grabbed a team high 10 rebounds and had four steals. Boutell hauled down five rebounds. Mariana VanAgtmaril contributed five points and had four rebounds.

Junior guard Emma Bruwer led NorthPointe Christian with 15 points.
Next up is Hart (22-3) against Kent City (21-4) for the regional championship on Thursday evening in Shelby. During the regular season, Kent City defeated Hart 58-52.
“To be the best you have to beat the best and they’ve been state runner-up the past  years, so it’s a real good opportunity,” Rosema said.

Photos courtesy of LSJ photographer Krisha Wainright