Hudsonville wins another close one, 45-44, over Mona Shores
Hudsonville – The future might eventually be brighter for a young Hudsonville girls basketball team, the present isn’t so bad.
In fact, the Eagles accomplished a program first with a wild 45-44 win over Muskegon Mona Shores in Thursday’s Class A regional final at Hudsonville.
The regional title is a first for Hudsonville, which starts only one senior along with two sophomores and a freshman. Despite the inexperience, the Eagles (22-3) have now won an OK Red Division title and 19 of their last 20 games. They advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal against East Lansing (19-6) at Battle Creek Central at 7 p.m.
"It’s been fun for me," Hudsonville coach Casey Glass said. "A lot of these girls were in our little kids program when I took over and they’ve been to our clinics and in our fall program. Kasey (DeSmit), Delaney (Ritsema) and Arinn (King) were ball girls for us.
"Yes, they’re young, but they’ve also played a lot of basketball. They’ve been in a lot of tough situations. Being in close games and knowing they can pull it out really helps us."
The Eagles’ Chloe Guingrich hit two free throws with 1:43 to go to snap a 43-43 tie. Hudsonville dodged missing four free throws in the last 36 seconds and a last-second shot by Mona Shores’ Jordan Walker fell short. The game was either tied or the lead changed hands nine times in the last seven minutes.
The teams took radically different routes to the regional final. Mona Shores (21-4) took a 14-game winning streak into the game, beating opponents by an average of 26 points per game during that stretch.
Meanwhile, Hudsonville is 11-2 in games decided by seven points or less.
"We like to make things nice and close," said Shaina DenBesten, Hudsonville’s lone senior starter. "We play for each other and (injured) Dakota (Spears) and we’re like a family. That’s what got us the win."
It was a game of runs until the final quarter. Hudsonville scored the game’s first eight points, but trailed 24-21 at the half. Mona Shores increased its lead to 27-21 before a 15-2 run by the Eagles gave them a 36-29 lead heading into the fourth.
Glass said part of the team’s success is explained by work in the off-season, but he also cites another reason for the school’s first regional title.
"It’s a special type of group. You can’t win if you don’t have support – that’s what a team is," he said. "It’s not just five girls on the floor. It’s an exceptional group. Mentally, they just don’t lose control."
Mona Shores freshman guard Alyza Winston scored 22 points and Walker had 11.
Guingrich had 12 points while DeSmit and DenBesten each had nine.
"They played super good and (Winston) was very tough," DeSmit said. "But good teams make plays. So did they, but we made one more."
Mona Shores coach Brad Kurth, whose team climbed back into the game by forcing eight fourth quarter turnovers, said he had no fault with his team’s effort.
"I thought we contained them; we held them to 45 points after we had trouble with their post players in the first half," said Kurth, who had an explanation for it being a game of runs. "When you have the lead and miss open shots, that’s what happens.
"We were prepared. It’s just that some nights you don’t shoot the ball. The last three games have been tight and we’ve played great. But you have to make shots."