Kingsley reaches a state semifinal for the first time in 10 years after defeating Oakridge, 49-39, in a Class B qiuarterfinal
Cadillac – It’s been 10 years since Kingsley has been to a state semifinal and coach Matt Schelich said he knew this was going to be the year the Stags reached the semifinals again.
“Ten years ago, (the Michigan High School Athletic Association) didn’t play (the semifinals and finals) at the Breslin,” Schelich said. “They played it at Eastern Michigan.”
This season the MHSAA Girls Basketball semifinals and finals are at Van Nord Arena on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Last season Michigan State’s Breslin Center was the site.
Kingsley (26-0) started fast and never trailed but had to hold off a game Muskegon Oakridge squad, 49-39, in a Class B quarterfinal at Cadillac on Tuesday.
Kingsley, ranked No. 3, will play defending state champion and top-ranked Detroit Country Day (21-4) in a semifinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a very big win for us,” Schelich said. “Defense has been our M.O. Our shooting comes and goes. We’re a balanced passing team. Seven of our kids average between eight and 12 points. (Oakridge) has a point guard who can score and that fits right into our system.”
Oakridge committed 12 turnovers in the first half and much of that can be attributed to Kingsley’s pressure. Even when Oakridge was able to get a shot off, the Stags didn’t make it easy for the Eagles. Kingsley was active on both ends of the court and was certainly the aggressor on this night.
Kingsley led, 16-3, after a Brumfield 3-pointer 22 seconds into the second quarter.
Jacie King’s first of her three 3-pointers increased the lead to 21-7 with 3:42 left in the half and Oakridge climbed back into the game by scoring the last six points and trailed 21-13.
Oakridge (22-4) still trailed by eight (27-19) when the Stags went on a 9-0 run keyed by King’s two 3-pointers to take a 36-19 lead with 3:08 left in the third.
Consecutive baskets by Gracie Reinhold and Sophia Ward trimmed the deficit to 39-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Kingsley maintained a 9- to 13-point lead throughout the fourth quarter to advance.
It was fortunate for Kingsley that it had such a comfortable as the Stags made just four of their last 12 free throw tries.
King and Rebekah Crosby each scored 14 points to lead Kingsley. Jalynn Brumfield added seven points and five rebounds and played a marvelous floor game.
“We knew (Ward) was really good,” Crosby said. “Kelsie Bies was on her and did a great job. My job was to protect the rim. Our key was not to collapse too much. We didn’t want to let them shoot the three. Both (Aaliyah Cooper and Brianna Pastor) are pretty good from out there.
“You have to think small. We have to play one play at a time, one shot at a time.”
Ward topped Oakridge with 18 points and Cooper added 11. Oakridge held a 28-27 edge in rebounds with Halle Jennings leading the pack with 11 and Reinhold had eight.
The turnovers were a better indication of how the game flowed. Oakridge committed 22 and Kingsley had but 14.
“I think it was nerves at the beginning of the game,” Oakridge coach Terry DeJonge said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do defensively. I told them at the half, we’re down eight but it feels like 20. They said it felt like 30.
“I think we had 12 turnovers combined in the last five games. Their aggressiveness was the biggest difference. Our depth was limited. We had a guard get hurt in the (regional semifinal) Comstock Park game. I felt the players we used is what we needed.”
DeJonge used just five players while Schelich went nine deep.