G.R. Catholic Central earns payback, ties for OK Gold title
Grand Rapids – Grand Rapids Catholic Central turned a valuable lesson learned into a share of an OK Gold Division girls basketball championship on Friday.
The Cougars bounced back from a disappointing one-sided loss at Grand Rapids South Christian a month ago into a 47-40 victory over the Sailors that left both teams with a share of the title.
Catholic Central junior forward Sophia Karasinski said the difference between a convincing 70-50 loss to South Christian on Jan. 29 and Friday’s win came down to motivation
The Cougars never trailed after snapping a 12-12 tie one minute into the second quarter.
Karasinski, who committed to Central Michigan, scored 23 points. She said it wasn’t difficult following the earlier loss to South Christian to gather motivation.
"We hate to lose," she said. "That made us want to work harder. It motivated us to do better."
The Cougars and Sailors both finish the regular season 18-2, 9-1 in the division. South Christian is ranked No. 2 in Class B, the Cougars No. 4.
The Cougars increased a 24-17 halftime lead to 43-29 at the end of the third quarter.
South Christian, which opened the season 14-0, did cut the margin to 43-40 with 1:17 left but three consecutive turnovers sealed its fate.
Catholic Central coach Trevor Hinshaw agreed there was motivation taken from the earlier loss. Toss in a defense that limited the Sailors to connecting on just 31 percent of their shots from the field and HInshaw said his team is thrilled to wind up with a share of a championship.
"The last three and a half weeks we’ve taken little steps in the level of defense we want," he said. "This was a team effort in defense. We were mentally locked in and physically gave all we had."
Hinshaw said the loss to South Christian didn’t leave the Cougars wary of a rematch. Rather, he said, it was what his players could take from the loss.
"It wasn’t so much that they beat us, but it was (not) doing the little things we can do to become better," he said. "We know a championship team has got to be better."
Myka Cromwell, one of five junior starters for Catholic Central, added eight points and the team’s lone senior, guard Jo-Ann Torres, also had eight.
Senior guard Jennifer DeBoer had 13 for South Christian.
First-year South Christian coach Kim Legge said the difference in the two games was shooting.
"They obviously made some adjustments. It’s been a fun season. We’re obviously disappointed with tonight,but now we start the second season," Legge said of looking forward to Monday’s district opener against host Wyoming Godwin Heights.
"We had high expectations this year. We tried not to focus on wins and losses, but on the process of getting better."
Hinshaw said there was little thought four months ago that a junior-dominated lineup wouldn’t be a factor in the OK Gold race. Four of the current juniors were on varsity a year ago.
"We have a lot of experience. It’s a solid group of seniors who never thought we were a year away," he said.