Monthly Archives: October, 2017

RECAP: Kalamazoo Central Defeats Portage Central, Mattawan Drops Portage Northern

Digital Camera

The Kalamazoo Central players and students celebrate their first volleyball postseason victory since 2013.

Kalamazoo Central and Mattawan were the victors in Monday’s District 1 first round volleyball matches at K-Central, advancing to semifinal matches Wednesday.   The Maroon Giants grabbed their first postseason victory since 2013, beating Portage Central 25-23, 25-23, 27-25.   The Wildcats bested Portage Northern 25-22, 25-21, 25-11.

KC and PC was tight throughout, with all three sets ending up tied at 23-23.   The Maroon Giants didn’t lead by two in the first set until the 25th point.  Kalamazoo Central got up by five early in the second, but found themselves down 20-18 before rallying back.   The Mustangs started up four in the third, followed by a three-point Giant lead midway through, before turning into a back-and-forth affair to the end.

Unofficially, Peri Herder topped Kalamazoo Central with nine kills, including the final one.  Regina Wolf added eight kills and five blocks, getting her team to 33-15-1 on the season.   Ryann Jaqua had 16 kills for PC, followed by 14 from Mackenzie Lundin.   Portage Central finishes 28-16 and graduates seniors Maddie Wojcik, Emma Kite, Jessie Zesiger, Kenzie Zook, and Allison Sturgeon.

Mattawan and Portage Northern stayed very even in the first set with neither team taking a multi-point lead until the Wildcats did at the end.  The Huskies led for the first part of the second set, but a 7-0 run off the service of Alli Wiese pushed Mattawan ahead and the Wildcats remained in control the rest of the way.

Unofficially, Madison Dorff tallied seven kills and three aces for Mattawan with Kathryn Puzevic also getting seven kills, moving them to 37-7 overall.   Emily Lewis led Portage Northern in her final match with 13 kills, followed by 9 from fellow senior Hannah Biddlecome.   The Huskies finish 28-23 and also graduate Kaylee Peterson, Ella Lewis, Corinne McCarthy and Cecilia Pirchio.

Mattawan will meet Lakeshore (6-25-1) in Wednesday’s semifinal at 5:30 p.m., followed Kalamazoo Central against St. Joseph (16-26-0) around 7.   The winners Wednesday play for the District 1 championship Thursday at 6 p.m. and you can hear the District final on the Slocum Sports Network.   All matches are at Kalamazoo Central.

Listen back to Monday’s contests below:



PREVIEW: Watervliet Duels Delton Kellogg in District Final

11-3 Football
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 6 District football final between Watervliet and Delton Kellogg.  Both teams are the Panthers, both wear maroon, both are in the SAC Lakeshore division, and both have been hot since their week six meeting.

Back on September 29, Watervliet won at Delton Kellogg 58-44 to lock Watervliet into the playoffs at 6-0 and putting DK in danger at 2-4.   The 14-point margin remains the closest anyone has come this season to beating Watervliet, who is now 10-0.   Since allowing 44 in that game, their worst defensive effort of the year, Watervliet has allowed 52 combined points over their last four games, including their first shutout last week in their playoff opener against Schoolcraft.   On the year, Watervliet is averaging 51.4 points per game while allowing 20.5.

Following the Watervliet loss, Delton Kellogg’s only hope at the postseason required a 3-0 finish against Kalamazoo United, Coloma, and Constantine.   DK did just that, winning 35-32, 23-20, and 40-7, giving them enough playoff points to enter the field at 5-4.   Delton Kellogg then had their most dominant performance yet in last week’s Pre-District win at Parchment, destroying those Panthers 57-0 to move to 6-4 on the year.  DK is averaging 34.1 points per game while allowing 26.9.

Watervliet and Delton Kellogg were tied 30-30 at halftime in their week six encounter, but Watervliet was able to pull away in the second half.  Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens threw for 398 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for three scores and 103 yards.

Watervliet is in the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, although only twice in that stretch have they won their District final and both times, they were then stopped in the Regional.  Delton Kellogg is in the postseason for the second time in the last three seasons, although they had a 13-year playoff drought prior to 2015.  DK has made it to the Regional round only once ever, back in 1987 and their Parchment win last week was their first playoff victory since 2000 and only third ever playoff victory.

Prior to Watervliet joining the SAC in 2015, these schools had never played in football.   Watervliet has won all three previous meetings.   If Watervliet is victorious, they would host either defending state champion Lumen Christi (8-1) or Michigan Center (9-1) in the Regional final.  If Delton Kellogg wins, they would be on the road.

Listen live to Friday’s District final live online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 7 p.m. from Watervliet High School.

PREVIEW: Hackett Catholic Battles Buckley for Trip to State Championship

11-1 soccer

Listen live online Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network as the Hackett Catholic Irish and Buckley Bears meet in a Division 4 soccer state semifinal from East Kentwood.   Hackett is in the final four for the third consecutive season, meanwhile this is the deepest Buckley has ever advanced.

Hackett enters the semifinal with a mark of 19-1-3 and a #4 ranking in the final Division 4 Coaches Association poll.   The Irish are the top-ranked team among those in the final four, averaging just over five goals per game and allowing 24 goals in 23 matches.  They’ve scored multiple goals in all but three of their matches and have gotten three or more in all but five matches.

Hackett outscored their first four postseason opponents a combined 30-2, including a 6-2 district final win over #17 Kalamazoo Christian and a 8-0 destruction of previously unbeaten Howardsville Christian.   The Irish were tested and forced into overtime by #11 Hartford in the Regional final Friday after 80 minutes of scoreless play.  Goalkeeper Joe Carr held for an extra 20 minutes and junior Brennan Creek found the net for a 1-0 victory.

Hackett was knocked out in the semifinal last season in a 4-3 overtime thriller to Muskegon Catholic Central.   In 2015, the Irish made it to the championship for the first time since 1995, but came up short in overtime 3-2 to Genesee Christian.  The Irish have been state champions before, winning four times from 1991-1995.   In recent history, the program has won seven consecutive District championships.

Buckley enters the semifinal at 20-1-3 and a #8 ranking in the final poll.   The Bears have allowed only one goal in their last 12 matches and have allowed only 12 goals total all season, while averaging 3.75 scored per game.   Whereas Hackett has been a yearly soccer power, Buckley’s soccer success is new, with the Bears winning their first ever district crown last season.

The Bears easily dispatched their three district challengers this year, outscoring them 21-0.   Waiting for them in the Regional tournament was the daunting duo of #3 Western Michigan Christian and #2 Leland.   Their lone loss of the year came to Leland 2-1 in the regular season, although the Bears did get the win back 3-0 two weeks later.

Against WMC, Buckley goalkeeper Joey Weber turned away 25 shots on goal to force penalty kicks after 100 scoreless minutes, then made two shootout saves for the Buckley win.     Their Regional final Thursday against Leland had a similar script as Weber made 15 saves to force PKs after 100 scoreless minutes, then made two more shootout saves to punch their ticket to the final four.

Listen live online to Wednesday’s semifinal match on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 6 p.m. from East Kentwood’s Pat Patterson Field.   The winner meets either #5 Ann Arbor Greenhills or #14 Genesee Christian in the championship Saturday with the time and location to be announced.

PREVIEW: SMAC Volleyball Rivals Collide to Start District Tournament

10-30 volleyball

Listen live online Monday evening on the Slocum Sports Network to the first round District #1 volleyball matches from Kalamazoo Central High School.   The first match, set for 5:30 p.m., features the Mattawan Wildcats against the Portage Northern Huskies.   The match to follow has the hosting Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants and Portage Central Mustangs.   All four SMAC members enter with winning records and strong programs.

Mattawan enters as the favorite coming off Saturday’s SMAC tournament championship, defeating Portage Central in the final match.   At 33-7 according to Maxpreps, the Wildcats received a honorable mention in last week’s Class A Coaches Association poll and have been in the top ten at other points in the season.    Mattawan was eliminated by Portage Central in last season’s district tournament.  Two seasons ago, the Wildcats made it to the quarterfinal for the first time in program history.

Portage Northern entered last weekend at 26-21 and has significantly improved from their recent down seasons.   The Huskies are looking for their first postseason victory since 2010.   They were knocked out in last year’s district tournament by Portage Central.   The last Portage Northern district championship came in 2007, with a trip to the quarterfinal that season.   The Huskies were once a Class A powerhouse, winning 10 state championships in the 1980s and 90s.

Portage Central entered last weekend at 26-14 and is the defending district champion, getting as far the quarterfinal last season where they fell to Class A runner-up Rockford in five sets.   The Mustang senior class is looking to claim their third district title in their four seasons.  The school’s deepest run was a runner-up finish in 2009.

Kalamazoo Central took a 30-13-1 mark into the weekend and were knocked out by Niles in last season’s district tournament.   Their last postseason victory came in 2013 with their most recent district championship in 2002.   The Maroon Giants’ deepest run was a state title in 1996.

Monday’s winners move to Wednesday’s district semifinals.   The Mattawan/Portage Northern winner plays Lakeshore (4-23-1) at 5:30 p.m. with the Portage Central/Kalamazoo Central winner meeting St. Joseph (15-23-0) in the following match.   The district championship is Thursday at 6 p.m. with all of the matches at Kalamazoo Central.

You can listen to Monday’s first round matches, as well as Thursday’s district championship, live online via the Slocum Sports Network.   The action begins Monday at 5:30 p.m. between Mattawan and Portage Northern with the Portage Central and Kalamazoo Central match to follow.   The bracket can be found here via MHSAA.

RECAP: #7 Coldwater Advances to Semifinal with Shutout of Lakeshore

Digital Camera

Coldwater celebrates with the Regional trophy.  Tyler Kooi (#3) scored the game’s lone goal. 

For the first time in program history, the Coldwater Cardinals have made it to the boys soccer final four.   Coldwater won their Regional final Saturday 1-0 over Lakeshore from Marshall High School.   The lone goal came in the 29th minute as a long shot from senior Tyler Kooi slipped through the hands of Lakeshore goalkeeper Oli Carmody.

The Lancers upped the pressure in the second half and ended up with six corner kicks in the match, but they couldn’t get by junior goalkeeper Balal Nasser, who recorded his fourth postseason shutout with an unofficial tally of seven saves.

“He’s gotta be one of the best in the state right now,” said Coldwater coach Ken Delaney of Nasser.  “He keeps us in games.  And just great team defense that we’re playing right now too, everybody knows their role and does their job.”

The school-record for wins in a season continues to grow as Coldwater advances, putting them to 22-3-1 on the season.   Lakeshore finishes their campaign at 15-10-1.

“Even games that we’ve been down, we never give up,” said Delaney.   “It’s a good decision making team and we’re very, very quick.”

Ranked seventh in the final Division 2 Coaches Association poll, Coldwater is the highest ranked team in the final four and will meet the next best remaining, #8 Holland, in Wednesday’s semifinal.

“I saw them last year in the Regionals when they were there.  They’ve got speed too, they’ve got a couple of really good attacking players up top.   It’s gonna be tough,” said Delaney.

Coldwater faces Holland Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal from Portage Northern High School.  The other Division 2 semifinal features Farmington Hills Harrison against East Lansing.     Listen back to Saturday’s Regional final below:

RECAP: #3 Mendon Holds Off Lake Michigan Catholic 28-12

Digital Camera
The third-ranked Mendon Hornets opened the Division 8 MHSAA football postseason with a Pre-District win over Lake Michigan Catholic 28-12 Saturday, setting up a District final between the Hornets and defending state champion Muskegon Catholic Central next week.   Mendon’s dominant defense had another strong showing, forcing two interceptions and holding the Lakers to seven rushing yards.

After forcing a punt to start the game, the Hornets quickly scored with a four-yard run from Cole Decker.   Mendon forced another punt and drove to the one-yard line, but were denied by LMC for a turnover on downs.  The Lakers then had a scoring drive that traveled 99 yards, finished with a 37-yard pass from Zach Rogers to Christian Monconduit.  The score came right at the start of the second quarter and put the Lakers down 7-6 after a missed extra point.

Both teams would have a giveaway and multiple punts in the second quarter.   Mendon was able to score once more and take a 14-6 lead into halftime on an 11-yard passing touchdown from Decker to Hunter Lovell.

Mendon started with the ball in the third quarter and kept the ball for more than 10 minutes, traveling 70 yards on a drive with 19 rushes.  A two-yard Wyatt Cool rush punched into the end zone for a 21-6 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter.   The Hornets would force a turnover on downs and interception on the following LMC drives and score one more midway through the fourth on a 32-yard Lovell rush.   The Lakers added a 17-yard pass touchdown from Rogers to Conner Christensen late in the fourth for the 28-12 final, following a failed two-point try.

Mendon unofficially tallied 390 rushing yards, 178 of which came from sophomore Austin Rensi on 20 carries.  Wyatt Cool had 99 on 21 runs.   For the Lakers, Zach Rogers was 11-33 for 187 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Lake Michigan Catholic finishes the year at 7-3.   For Mendon, they move to 10-0 and host top-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central (8-1) in a state championship-level District final next Saturday.

The broadcast from Saturday’s game will be uploaded later Saturday evening, as there is currently an issue with WordPress preventing the upload.

RECAP: Watervliet Opens Postseason with Shutout of Schoolcraft

Digital Camera

Watervliet and Schoolcraft’s captains ready for the coin toss.

The Watervliet Panthers moved to 10-0 Friday night with a 36-0 Pre-District playoff win over Schoolcraft, ending the Eagles’ season at 5-5.   The shutout is the first of the year for the Panther defense, which forced two turnovers, four punts, and held Schoolcraft to under 200 total offensive yards.

After forcing a punt on the opening Eagle drive, Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens needed one play to score, taking off on a 65-yard touchdown rush.   On Watervliet’s third drive, Pickens had a 40-yard rushing score.   The Eagles ate up about eight minutes on a lengthy drive which got to the red zone, but ended in an interception to Jakob Aldrich.   Schoolcraft was able to force a turnover on downs twice in the first half and kept the Panthers from scoring on an untimed down to end the second quarter, keeping the game at 14-0 into halftime.

Pickens connected with Bryant Kieft on a 20-yard passing touchdown 58 seconds into the third quarter and extended the lead to 22-0 with a shovel pass to Garrett Matthews on the two-point conversion.  Schoolcraft punted, but forced a quick turnover on downs and got the ball back near midfield.   However, the Eagles fumbled the ball to defensive lineman Blake Kinzler.  Not long after, Pickens hit Trent Boone for a 29-yard touchdown pass.   The Panthers added one more score off a six-yard James Bell run.

Unofficially, Pickens was 7-16 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 179 yards with two touchdowns on 24 attempts.  His scores put him at 31 passing touchdowns and 27 rushing scores on the season.  Garrett Matthews had four catches for 119 yards.  Schoolcraft QB Brady Flynn was 3-8 for 30 yards with one pick.  Kobe Clark led the rushing at 85 yards on 21 carries.  Jack Hunt was held to 32 on 14 attempts.

Watervliet advances to the district final next weekend against Delton Kellogg, who blitzed Parchment 57-0.   Watervliet defeated DK (now 6-4) on the road 58-44 in week six, although of note, that 14-point deficit is the closest anyone has been this season to Watervliet.   You can listen to the Watervliet/Delton Kellogg game on the Slocum Sports Network.

Listen back to Friday’s Pre-District below:

RECAP: #7 Coldwater Sinks #1 Dexter, Lakeshore Beats #9 Plainwell in OT

Digital Camera

Dexter (left) and Coldwater (right) line up for pre-match introductions. 

The seventh-ranked Coldwater Cardinals and Lakeshore Lancers won their Regional semifinal soccer matches Thursday at Marshall High School, propelling them to Saturday’s Regional Final at 6 p.m., which can be heard live via the Slocum Sports Network.   Coldwater upset top-ranked and previous unbeaten Dexter 2-0, while Lakeshore won 2-1 in overtime against ninth-ranked Plainwell.

Coldwater and Dexter played fairly even in a scoreless first half.   59 seconds into the second half, a Coldwater corner kick found Mohamed Nagi for only the third goal surrendered all season by Dexter.  The Cardinals limited Dexter’s chances the rest of the way and sealed the victory with 6:44 remaining as the other Nagi brother, Nasser, found the back of the net.   Cardinal goalkeeper Balal Nasser unofficially made five saves.

Coldwater is into the Regional final for the first time in program history, improving to 21-3-1 on the season.   Dexter ends the year at 21-1-0 and their loss means that none of the teams ranked #1 between the four MHSAA divisions will make it to the final eight.   Of the six teams left in Division 2 following Thursday’s games, Coldwater holds the highest Coaches Association ranking at #7.

In the other semifinal, Lakeshore took the lead on a Riley Aukerman goal with 25:41 to go in the first half.   Lakeshore controlled the rest of the first half, although Plainwell came out firing in the second half.   A stellar diving save from Lancer sophomore goalkeeper Oli Carmody denied a Luke Morrell penalty kick midway through the second.

Eventually, the Trojan pressure was too much and they got the equalizer with 16:46 remaining when a long boot from Zakary Termeer found Morrell in the box for Luke’s 40th goal of the season.   Lakeshore used a corner kick in the first two minutes of overtime to reclaim the lead, put in by freshman forward Mikey Tibbitts.  The Lancers held on for the final 18 minutes to book their first final eight appearance since 1995.  Lakeshore moves to 15-9-1 on the season while Plainwell ends 18-4-3.

Coldwater and Lakeshore face off Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Regional final at Marshall High School and you can listen live on the Slocum Sports Network.   The winner advances to the semifinal Wednesday at Portage Northern against #8 Holland.     Listen back to Thursday’s games below:



RECAP: Albion Spoils Senior Night For Kalamazoo Men

Digital Camera

Albion College defeated Kalamazoo College 2-0 Wednesday night in men’s soccer, splitting their season series for the second straight season with the road team winning once again.  The Britons got the first goal on a missile by Christian Hurtado with 11:09 remaining in the first half.   The second goal came with 18:14 remaining in the second from Erik VanFossen.

Kalamazoo falls to 8-7-2 overall and 7-5-1 in the MIAA.   The Hornet men and women end their regular season Saturday afternoon at Olivet.   Albion moves to 6-7-4, with each win on the road, and 3-7-3 in MIAA play.  They end their year Saturday night at top-ranked Calvin.

You can watch Wednesday’s game here.


PREVIEW: Mendon (9-0) Opens Postseason Against Lake Michigan Catholic (7-2)

10-28 football

Listen live online Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 8 Pre-District football game between the Mendon Hornets and Lake Michigan Catholic Lakers.   It’s a rematch of last year’s Pre-District, a game Mendon won 39-12.

Mendon enters the playoffs at 9-0 with only 45 points allowed this season, the lowest in the entire state.  They’re also averaging an impressive 45.1 per game offensively. Apart from their 34-24 week eight win over Cassopolis, the Hornets dominated the competition in the first year of the Southwest 10 Conference, including six shutouts.

Ranked third in the final Associated Press Division 8 poll, Mendon is in the postseason for the 11th consecutive season.  In that stretch, they’ve made it to the Regional round in all but the last two seasons, falling in last year’s district final to Climax-Scotts.  In 2011, the Hornets claimed their most recent state championship.

Lake Michigan Catholic (who co-ops with Countryside Academy) enters at 7-2 and won all four of their games within the BCS Blue Division.  The Laker defense is allowing a solid 17.1 points per game while scoring 32.4 per contest. Their two losses came in week four and five to a much larger Parchment (30-0) and defending Division 8 champion and top-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central (55-13).    The last Pre-District victory for LMC came in 2002.

Briefly conference rivals, Mendon and Lake Michigan Catholic have met 12 times before, seven times in the playoffs.   In all 12, the Hornets were the winner.   The winner advances to the District final against either defending champion Muskegon Catholic Central or Decatur.

Listen live to Saturday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 1 p.m. from Mendon.