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South Christian escapes Williamston, eyes region title

By: Lenny Padilla, March 8, 2016, 9:24 pm


Wayland – On most weekends Jennifer DeBoer can be found in the gym hitting shot after shot. The Grand Rapids South Christian guard won’t head home until she’s made 500 shots, at least half of them 3-pointers.

So it wasn’t a surprise when coach Kim Legge drew up a play for DeBoer with the game tied late in the fourth quarter.

DeBoer’s 3-pointer with 1:58 left in the game helped No. 2 South Christian hold off No. 6 Williamston 59-53 on Tuesday in a Class B regional semifinal at Wayland.

“They had the momentum there and we had to get it back,” DeBoer said of Williamston, which was on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 49-49. “We had to make a change and we needed a big shot and it happened to be me.”

South Christian (22-2) advances to the regional final on Thursday when it will face the winner of Portland (15-9), a 47-45 overtime winner over Eaton Rapids in the other semifinal.

“(DeBoer) has the confidence that it takes to do that,” Legge said. “It’s part of a play that we save when we need one. We called it coming out of the timeout and she executed.”

South Christian’s toughest task was keeping track of Williamston sharpshooter Maddie Watters, who had six 3-pointers and finished with 25 points.

“I think I was nervous most of the game when Watters kept hitting her shots in our face,” Legge said. “She had a good game tonight.”

Watters, a sophomore guard, hit a three that sat up on the rim briefly and then rolled in to cut the lead to 49-47 with 3:09 left in the game. Her two free throws tied the game at 49-49.

“She’s an awesome athlete and a great kid, too,” Williamston coach Pete Cool said.

Cool’s Hornets finish the season 17-3, including a Capital Area Athletic Conference White Division championship.

 “It was a fun year,” he said. “We’ve got great kids. We won the league and went 17-3 in the season. It’s tough to swallow right now, but we’ll get back at it.”

DeBoer, who signed with Grand Valley State, finished with 10 points and seven assists. The senior averages 16.5 points and six assists per game.

She credits her shooting to weekends in the gym.

“I go by makes. I have to make 500,” DeBoer said. “I try to split it up and make half of them threes.”

Mariel Bruxvoort had 17 points for the Sailors, including two big 3-pointers in the second half. Sydney DeYoung had 12 points and Markayla Vander added 10 points and three assists. Zoie Hulst added eight points, also hitting two threes.

“She played so good. I was impressed,” DeBoer said of Bruxvoort, a sophomore forward. “But I see it every day in practice, so I know she’s got it in her. It’s nice to see her show it out on the court today.”

Renee Sturm finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets. Watters also had seven rebounds and two assists.

In the Williamston cheering section were former Michigan State basketball players Mike Peplowski and Matt Steigenga. The former teammates were watching Peplowski’s daughter Allison, who is a sophomore forward. She finished with four points and five rebounds.

Steigenga, who is now a radio announcer for the Spartans basketball team, graduated from South Christian, where he was the state’s Mr. Basketball in 1988. Peplowski finished second.