NorthPointe Christian’s defense frustrates Calvin Christian, takes a 71-57 Class C district semifinal win
Grandville – When the state tournament rolls around, the physicality of play tends to get a little rougher.
That was the case on Wednesday in the Class C district at Grandville Calvin Christian.
Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian came out and played physical, especially on the defensive end, and flustered the host Squires into an ugly first half of basketball, a half that saw Calvin Christian make just four baskets and fall behind by 20 points.
That lead was good enough for NorthPointe Christian to keep the Squires at bay in the second half as it walked away with a 71-57 district semifinal win.
The Mustangs will now play Fennville (18-3) for the title on Friday at 7 p.m. Fennville defeated Grand Rapids Covenant Christian in the first semifinal, 59-38.
“I thought in the first half, that was by far the best we have played defensively all season,” NorthPointe Christian coach Jared Redell said. “I think we finally showed the potential that when we are locked in defensively, how well we can guard the basketball. They have great shooters, the last game against us they hit 10 3-pointers on us, and I thought we did a great job on getting out on them and not giving them any open looks.”
A 3-point shooting team all season, Calvin Christian missed all their 3-pointers but the one Tony DeWitte made with just over one minute to play in the first half.
The Squires were not that good in the paint, either. They had 12 offensive rebounds in the first 16 minutes of play, but had no second-chance points.
“We missed six or seven (short shots) in that first half,” Calvin Christian coach Ryan Stevens said. “Normally we make those. Let’s just say that’s 10 points, and that is a big difference. And we got it down to nine at the end, and now the game is really close.”
Yes, the Squires did play much better in the second half, and made several runs at the NorthPointe in the half.
Three minutes into the second half the Squires went on an 8-2 run but NorthPointe pushed the lead back to 19 after three quarters.
“The second half, they are a good team,” Redell said. “I thought the key was in the third quarter, when they made their first run, we ended up pushing back to 19 and that gave us a cushion. They cut the lead to nine in the fourth, and is we don’t get that up to 19 at the end the third, if it 12 or 14 at the end of the third, that lead is four. That was key.”
Thanks to great guard play by junior Braden Stevens, the coach’s son, the lead was only nine with 2:14 to play in the game, but the Mustangs made seven of eight free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Kaul Nhial led NorthPointe with 20 points, including two impressive dunks by the 6-foot-6 senior center that got the Mustangs crowd rocking.
DeWitte and Braden Stevens led Calvin Christian in scoring with 19 and 17 respectively.
The first semifinal was a bit of a revenge game, as Fennville lost to Covenant Christian just a week ago, only to control Wednesday’s game from start to finish.
Cejhay Svay led Fennville in scoring with 15 points.