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Hudsonville continues turnaround, picks up district title with win over Wyoming

By: Dean Holzwarth, March 6, 2015, 10:00 pm

WYOMING – The Hudsonville girls basketball team struggled to a disappointing two-win campaign a year ago.

What a difference 12 months has made.

The Eagles continued their impressive turnaround Friday night with a 64-49 win over host Wyoming in a Class A district final.

It was a match-up of conference champions as Hudsonville won the OK Red and the Wolves captured the OK Blue.

The Eagles (14-8), who won their first district title since 2011, will meet Byron Center in a regional semifinal on Tuesday at Kenowa Hills High School.

“This feels amazing because from last year to this year it’s just day and night,” said Eagles junior Shaina DenBesten, who led all scorers with 20 points. “We’ve all worked so hard.”

DenBesten was limited to two points in the first half, but came alive with 18 points in the final two quarters as the Eagles erased a six-point halftime deficit.

“I was a little frustrated, but it really helped when I came on the bench and my teammates were like, ‘just forget about it, just move on’,” DenBesten said. “That helped me move on and go on to score more points. It was really vital for us to get the ball into the post.”

Hudsonville benefited when Wyoming senior Noel Hernandez picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter.

The Eagles went inside to DenBesten and sophomore Chloe Guingrich, who chipped in 13 points. Senior Madilyn Keller also had 13.

“We talked at halftime about getting back to the thing that we do well, and that is getting it into our post players,” Hudsonville coach Casey Glass said. “And I think getting Hernandez into foul trouble was key for us.”

The Eagles took their first lead since the first quarter late in the third on a bucket by Guingrich.

Hudsonville opened the fourth with seven straight points and extended its lead with a 14-2 run. The Eagles outscored the Wolves 23-10 in the final quarter.

“We hit some big 3s during that stretch,” Glass said. “And I can’t be more proud of them for stepping up to the challenge tonight.”

Glass was especially pleased with the second-half performance by DenBesten.

“She has the skills to do that every night,” he said. “We’ve seen her growth and it’s unbelievable when you look where she was last year to now.”

Wyoming, which finished 18-5, was led by senior Janay Traylor’s 17 points.

Sophomore standout Claire Hendrickson had 11, but was held scoreless in the second half. Hernandez added 10.

It was the Wolves’ third straight appearance in the district finals.

“We are a great team, but Hudsonville brought it tonight and they played better,” Wyoming coach Kirk Kambestad said. “They were impressive. They hit 3s, they rebounded well and Shaina played well. We got shots, but it hurt when Noel was out for seven minutes with foul trouble. She’s a dream team player and that was tough.”