Presley Hudson scores 21, leads Wayland past South Christian, 54-49
Cutlerville – To show the unpredictable nature of high school girls basketball, you need look no further than the game between Wayland Union and host Grand Rapids South Christian on Friday.
The Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in Class B and are coming off a great win a week earlier against a two-loss Grand Rapids Catholic Central team, which is ranked No. 5.
Then you have the Sailors, a talented team still trying to find itself.
This is also a South Christian team that was easily handled by Catholic Central earlier in the season. And it appeared that Wayland was going to easily handle South Christian early, as the Wildcats raced out to a 14-2 lead after one quarter.
But the Sailors tightened up the defense, found their scoring touch in the middle two quarters, and closed Wayland’s lead to just three points heading into the final quarter.
South Christian (7-5, 3-2) actually held the lead twice in the fourth. That was until Wayland all-state and Central Michigan University-bound guard Presley Hudson took over late, scoring eight of her 21 points in the final two minutes to lift Wayland to a hard-fought 54-49 win in OK Gold Conference action.
“Last Friday and tonight, (Hudson) is kind of our will to win,” Wayland coach Marty Howard said. “She has done a great job of willing us to win and getting these two victories. She’s a competitor.”
Of those eight points in the final two minutes, six came from the free throw line. Hudson’s one miss in the fourth caused controversy.
Hudson lineup up for a one-and-one with 34 seconds left and her team clinging to a 50-49 lead.
She missed the front end, South Christian rebounded, but the referees mistakenly thought it was a two-shot foul and stopped play.
The official scorer indicated to the referees that they had made a mistake and that it should have been South Christian’s ball. The referees huddled and called a jump ball.
The arrow was pointing Wayland’s way, and Hudson made four free throws in the final seconds to seal the win and improve to 13-0 overall, 5-0 in the Gold.
South Christian coach Jim DeBruyn was not happy at the time.
“The refs made a mistake, and they saw that they did,” DeBruyn said. “They called the jump ball, but it was to their advantage and they made it work. They took advantage of it.”
But DeBruyn didn’t want to point to that one call as the reason why his team lost.
“The first quarter hurt,” said DeBruyn. “We just came out a little too nervous and they hit some buckets and we didn’t finish like I know we can. We played into Wayland’s hand, but we finally got going. They just started playing with their hearts. They started playing together and did what they can do.”
That didn’t make Howard happy.
“We got up 14-2 and I thought we relaxed,” Howard said. “We felt like this was our game, and thought it would be somewhat of an easy game, and I told them at the end of the game we can’t do that. Every team is going to give us their best shot, and obviously tonight we let them back in the game and they gave us their best shot.
“They are a good defensive team. You have to give them credit, Jim gets them prepared. The schemed for how they were going to stop us, and I thought they executed that better in the middle quarters. Then we did some different things down the stretch and it worked out.”
Ali Martus added 13 points for Wayland and Ashley Vanderhorst led South Christian with 12.