MONTAGUE — Whitehall girls basketball team extended its winning streak to three straight Friday night with a 36-31 upset of host Montague to win the Division 2 district championship.
“The atmosphere was just probably what you’d want at a high school game,” said Thaler. “It was a packed gym, and awfully loud in there. Both teams were probably kind of nervy to start the game in a game like this.”
Whitehall managed to forge a two-point lead, 7-5, at the end of the first quarter. But the Wildcats answered with an 11-7 run in the second and took a slim 16-12 lead at halftime.
The Vikings owned the second half by outscoring the Wildcats, 14-8, in the third quarter to surge ahead, 28-24, entering the fourth quarter. Whitehall finished the game with an 8-7 edge.
“It seemed like they made everything they threw at the basket in the second half,” Thaler said. “There was a stretch there at the end in the last minute where they had a player bank in a 3.
“That was kind of a big momentum play right there to make it 25-22,” he said. “Then we come down (and) we get a layup to make it 25-24, then with time running out they get it just past the mid-court line and threw up a shot and it went in. We couldn’t close the gap. We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight. That was disappointing. They were able to knock down some free throws to take the game home at the end.”
Leading the Vikings in scoring were Onnyka Dempsey with a game-high 14 points and Hailey Carnes added eight.
Emma Peterson scored nine points to lead Montague. She also had three assists and had three rebounds. Lauren Smith added six points and three steals. Hayes Schwartz scored four points and hauled down six rebounds, while Braylyn Bultema chipped in with four points and six rebounds.
Montague finished the season 16-8 and expects to have the majority of its team returning. Despite the loss, Thaler was proud of how far the Wildcats got without all-stater Kendall Osborne and the youth on the team.
Whitehall (13-10) moves on to the regional tournament hosted by Frankenmuth. The Vikings are scheduled to play the second game Tuesday at 7 p.m. against a yet to be determined opponent.