West Ottawa advances to first Class A final with 53-50 win over Novi
East Lansing – A season ago, Holland West Ottawa saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion as the Panthers lost at the buzzer, in a regional final, to Grand Rapids Christian, the eventual runner-up in Class A.
That moment would stick with West Ottawa as it aimed to reach new heights in 2018 and the Panthers did just that, defeating Muskegon in a regional final and East Lansing in a quarterfinal to advance to their first state semifinal.
West Ottawa would overcome an early fourth quarter deficit behind timely 3-point shooting by Drew Peterson and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch to seal a 53-50 victory over the Wildcats at the Breslin Center.
West Ottawa (25-2) will play defending state champion and No. 2-ranked Clarkston (25-1) in the final on Saturday at approximately 2 p.m.
West Ottawa senior guard Xavier Wade said that after last year’s loss to Grand Rapids Christian, he and his teammates used that moment as a motivating factor for this season and it has helped the Panthers reach the final game of the season.
“Obviously we weren’t happy with how things ended last year, so that was really our motivation during the offseason,” he said. “We worked hard all offseason just to get to this place right here so that’s really what our motivation has been. We were so close, we were .6 away and that’s been our motivation since that day.”
Trailing 37-32 in the late stages of the third quarter, Novi would use a 9-0 run that started with a Jiovanni Miles 3-pointer to close out the quarter.
A Trendon Hankerson 3-pointer and a Traveon Maddox dunk completed the run to open the fourth and the Wildcats surged to a 41-37 lead.
West Ottawa, after a timeout, trailed 43-42 with 4:15 left to play and the Panthers rattled off seven consecutive points, four from Liam Cavanaugh and a 3-pointer from Peters, to give the Panthers a 49-43 lead with over a minute to play.
West Ottawa senior Tyler Bosma said that was a critical moment for his team to go on a run at that point and credited the chemistry he and his teammates have with being able to go on runs at crucial times.
“I don’t know if you’d call it doubt,” he said. “But obviously, it’s a game and you don’t know which way it’s going to go. Shoot, Novi could have made a run and taken a big lead, but we were lucky enough to take the lead. I think just having a strong group of kids that have stuck together for a while helps because we know that we want this just as bad as everybody around us. I think that’s what’s gotten us those runs and close to a championship.”
For West Ottawa Xavier Wade and Tyler Bosma each finished with 13 points, and Bosma had 12 rebounds.
Novi would have several opportunities to claw back into the game in the final minutes, but the West Ottawa defense would limit the Wildcats to just seven points in the final three minutes to help secure the win.
Novi coach Brandon Sinawi said his team had a bit of an off game on Friday and credited West Ottawa for dictating the pace and style of play.
“Tonight, we weren’t prepared to lose,” he said. “We had a goal set to play tomorrow and it’s tough, sometimes throughout the course of the season, you don’t play a great game and unfortunately for us, it was today. You have to give them credit, they played the way they wanted to and they had us playing their style, which is not what we wanted to do.”
Tariq Woody led the way for Novi with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Maddox added 13 points.