Category Archives: Hackett Catholic Irish

PREVIEW: Hackett Catholic Battles Buckley at K-College in Marquee Boys Contest

12-9 basketball

Listen live Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network as the Hackett Catholic Irish meet the Buckley Bears in boys basketball from Kalamazoo College.  These programs combined for 45 victories last season and this game should serve as a playoff-level test to start the season.   Located about two-and-a-half hours apart, these schools first became acquainted back on November 1st with Hackett defeating Buckley 3-1 in the Division 4 soccer state semifinal.

Hackett was a Class C quarterfinalist two seasons ago in boys basketball.  The Irish went 19-2 last season, eliminated by conference rival Kalamazoo Christian in the district tournament.   Hackett returns 10 players from last year’s varsity team, including two guys who averaged double-digit points per game in Cooper Smith and Heath Baldwin.   Saturday will be Hackett’s second game of the season, as they open at conference foe Lawton Friday.

Buckley finished last season 26-1, only losing in the Class D state championship game 78-69 to Powers North Central.   The Bears return all six players who scored in their first  state final appearance.    Averaging double-digit points per game last season were Denver Cade, Austin Harris, and Joe Weber.   Saturday’s game will be Buckley’s 2017-18 opener.

Listen live to Saturday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. from the Anderson Athletic Center at Kalamazoo College.

RECAP: Gobles Locks Down Hackett in 4th Quarter for 36-23 Win

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The Gobles defense gets into position in the first quarter against Hackett Catholic

The Gobles girls basketball team spoiled Hackett Catholic’s home opener Friday, using a 12-1 fourth quarter to secure a 36-23 Tiger victory.   Neither team led by more than one possession in the first half, with Gobles holding two point leads at the end of the first, second, and third quarters.    The Tigers had a 14-12 advantage at halftime and a 24-22 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Tigers built the lead to 28-22 midway through the fourth quarter.   Gobles’ 2-3 zone defense was nearly impenetrable in the fourth, only allowing one point on a free throw in the final minute.   Maddy Tiller topped Gobles with 16 points, all on two-point field goals.  The Tigers limited Hackett’s Syndey Preston, who averaged around 16 per game last season, to a team-high of eight.

Gobles moves to 1-1 and has their home debut Tuesday against South Haven.   Hackett begins 0-1 with a trip to Lawton ahead next Friday.   Listen back to Friday’s game below:

Gobles scoring: Maddy Tiller 16, Kylee Mandigo 7, Libbee Nason 4, Emily Lopez 3, Tatum Miller 2, Zoey Allen 2, Kelsie Martin 2.

Hackett scoring: Sydney Preston 8, Annie Housler 6, Savannah Madden 4, Bianca Cronen 2, Emily Wheaton 2, Natalie Toweson 1.

PREVIEW: Hackett Catholic Hosts Gobles in District Rematch

12-1 basketball

Listen live online Friday around 7:30 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network to girls basketball as the Hackett Catholic Irish host the Gobles Tigers.   It will be the season opener for Hackett and the second game of the year for Gobles, who dropped their opener 41-34 at Allegan Tuesday.

Both squads are part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC), although in different divisions.   Both are also within the same district, with Hackett winning last season’s lone meeting in the district tournament, 40-22.   Prior to that, Gobles held a five-game winning streak over Hackett.  They didn’t meet two seasons ago.  Three seasons ago, Gobles won 41-25 in a district meeting and 50-33 in the regular season.

Gobles finished 16-5 last season and graduated Hailey Baxter, who averaged a double-double per game.  However, Baxter was the lone Tiger senior, meaning everyone else returns.   Hackett went 18-6 and most notably lost All-SAC Valley selection Hope Baldwin.  Their top two scorers from last season are back in Sydney Preston and Savannah Madden.

Listen live to Friday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with tip-off around 7:30 p.m, pending the JV result.

RECAP: Hackett Falls in State Final 1-0 to Greenhills

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The Greenhills School Gryphons claimed their first state championship in their fourth try Saturday at Stoney Creek High School, defeating the Hackett Catholic Irish 1-0 in the Division 4 final.   For the second time in three seasons, Hackett was denied in the final, putting the program all-time at 4-2 in championship games

The first half was scoreless and pretty even overall between both squads.   Just before the start of the second half, faint thunder prompted a delay and soon after, a full thunderstorm was over Rochester Hills.   After about 90 minutes, the lightning ceased and the players returned to the field with a large rainbow sitting behind the net defended by Hackett in the second half.

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Greenhills came out firing in the second half and dominated the possession and controlled the opportunities.  With 23:58 remaining, the Gryphons got the game’s lone goal as a Matthew Pumphrey corner kick found the lower body of Jerry Tucker and bounced into the net.   The Irish finally had a few chances in the final ten minutes, but none could get by goalkeeper Leo Fried, officially credited with four saves on eight shots.   Hackett’s Joe Carr also was credited with four saves.

Greenhills finishes the season at 20-6-1 with Hackett at 19-2-2.   It was the first state title for Gryphons coach Lucian Popescu, who took the team to the final in his 2010 debut season.   The future is bright for the Irish, as they’ll return nearly all of their scoring from a team which averaged five goals per game.   Graduating are Carr, along with midfielders Jake Wurtz and Jackson Bradshaw, and defenders Matthew Sherwood and John Benjamin.

Listen back to the broadcast of the game below:



PREVIEW: #4 Hackett Catholic Meets #5 Greenhills for Division 4 Championship

11-4 soccer
Listen live online Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on the Slocum Sports Network to the MHSAA Division 4 boys soccer state championship game between the Hackett Catholic Irish and Greenhills School Gryphons.  The match will be played at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, about a two-and-a-half hour drive for Kalamazoo-based Hackett and about a hour trip for Ann Arbor-based Greenhills.

The contest will actually be their second state championship meeting with Hackett winning over Greenhills 2-0 in the 1992 Class C-D final.   It’s the second finals trip in three years for Hackett, who fell in the 2015 final 3-2 (OT) against Genesee Christian.   Last season, they were stopped in the semifinal.   The Irish made it to the championship on four other occasions, earning titles in 1991, 92, 94, and 95.

Like Hackett, Greenhills was stopped last year in the semifinal round.  This will be their fourth championship appearance with the Gryphons hoping for that elusive title, they were runner-up in 2010, 09, and 92.

According to the MHSAA’s press notes, the Irish officially enter the match with a record of 19-1-2, although their team page shows 20-1-3.    Ranked fourth in the final Division 4 Coaches Association poll, Hackett defeated #8 Buckley 3-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal off a hat-trick from Max Keenan.    The Irish were tested last week in a 1-0 overtime win in the Regional final against Hartford.  Against their first four playoff foes, Hackett outscored them 30-2.

Keenan leads the team with 44 goals, followed closely by fellow junior forward Brennan Creek at 40.  As a team, the Irish are averaging more than five goals per game and allowing exactly one per contest.  It’ll be the second crack at a title for coach Ian Troutman, whose first season at the helm was 2015.

Greenhills sits at 19-6-1 and was ranked fifth in the final Coaches Association poll.   The Gryphons avenged their 2016 semifinal loss Wednesday by defeating 2015 and 2016 champion Genesee Christian 3-1.   In the Regional tournament, Greenhills grabbed 1-0 wins over #6 Hillsdale Academy and #13 Monroe St. Mary’s.   The Gryphons were tested from the very start, opening the district tournament on a 3-1 win over #12 Manchester.

On the season, Greenhills is averaging 3.24 goals per game and allowing just over one per contest.  Junior Zachary Zimmerman has led the offense with 31 goals and 24 assists.   Senior midfielders Evan Marx (17) and Matthew Pumphrey (13) are next in line.  It’s also the second chance at a championship for Greenhills coach Lucian Popescu, who took the Gryphons to the 2010 final in his debut with the team.

Listen live to the Division 4 state championship online on the Slocum Sports Network Saturday with kickoff set for 3 p.m. ET from Stoney Creek.

RECAP: Hackett Punches Ticket to State Final on 3-1 Win Over Buckley

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For the second time in three seasons, the Hackett Catholic Irish will be playing for a Division 4 boys soccer state championship.   Hackett defeated the Buckley Bears 3-1 Wednesday at East Kentwood, getting all three goals from junior forward Max Keenan, giving him 44 total on the season.

Hackett brought the pressure immediately and Keenan earned a penalty kick in the fourth minute, putting it to the right on the ground by goalkeeper Joey Weber.  It was the first goal Buckley had allowed in the postseason.  In the 14th minute, Keenan got an assist from Aidan Gillig for the 2-0 Irish advantage.

In the 37th minute, Keenan found his way through three blue shirts to earn the hat-trick for a 3-0 lead at halftime, becoming the first team to score three on a Buckley squad which had allowed only 12 goals in 24 other matches.   Possession remained in favor of Hackett for the rest of the match with Buckley finally getting a goal on a deflection from Denver Cade in the 89th minute.   Unofficially, Irish goalkeeper Joe Carr had four saves with six by Weber for Buckley.

The Bears, eighth in the final Coaches Association poll, finish their program’s strongest ever season with a 20-2-3 record.   The Irish, fourth in the final poll, move to 20-1-3 and will play in the championship for the sixth time in program history.   They will play fifth-ranked Ann Arbor Greenhills, who knocked out two-time defending champion Genesee Christian 2-0.   The Division 4 championship is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and can be heard live via the Slocum Sports Network.

Listen back to the semifinal match below:

PREVIEW: Defending Champion GR West Catholic Hosts Kalamazoo United

11-3 Football #2
Listen live Friday online at to a Division 5 District football final as the West Catholic Falcons host the Kalamazoo United Titans in Grand Rapids.  It will be the first ever football meeting between West Catholic and the United co-op or either of its schools.

Both teams enter the contest at 8-2 on the season.   Kalamazoo United has had a flair for the dramatic recently as their last five games have been decided by a combined 12 points.  The Titans got the first playoff win in the Hackett Catholic/Kalamazoo Christian co-op’s four-year history last week, defeating Dowagiac 21-18.   United is averaging 34 points per game and allowing 27.2 per game and have been highlighted by an electric passing offense.  Junior quarterback Eric Wenzel has tossed 35 touchdowns on the season.

The Titans will meet a juggernaut in West Catholic, winners of the last four Division 5 state championships and five of the last seven.   Although beaten twice this season, their losses came 27-24 to Lumen Christi (defending Division 6 champion) and 35-33 to Grand Rapids Catholic Central (defending Division 4 champion).   Averaging 40.8 points per game and 16 allowed per contest, the Falcons ran through Berrien Springs 43-13 in their playoff opener.

Listen live to Friday’s contest at with kickoff set for 7 p.m. and pregame at 6:40 p.m. from West Catholic.

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.

RECAP: Final Second Field Goal Lifts Kalamazoo United Over Schoolcraft

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Heath Baldwin (#2) kicked the winning field goal and had a big catch late for Kalamazoo United.  Brenden Warner (#7) rushed for nearly 300 yards. 

For the fourth consecutive week, the Kalamazoo United football team’s game was decided by three points or fewer.   The Titans kicked a 38-yard Heath Baldwin field goal through the uprights with 0.3 seconds remaining to secure a 31-28 road victory over the Schoolcraft Eagles.  The victory gives the co-op its highest ever win total with a 7-2 regular season mark.   Schoolcraft falls to 5-4 and has to hope they have enough playoff points to sneak into the playoff field and extend their postseason streak to nine seasons.

The Titans started strong, scoring not even two minutes into the game with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Eric Wenzel to Baldwin.  Schoolcraft made it to the ten-yard line on their opening drive, but fumbled the ball on a quarterback keeper from Brady Flynn.   Titan running back Brenden Warner bolted 83 yards, then Wenzel hit Christian Bartholomew for a seven-yard score and a 14-0 United lead.

Schoolcraft’s second drive found the end zone with a 38-yard rush from fullback Jack Hunt.   The Eagles forced a quick punt and scored in the final minute of the first quarter on a 4-yard Hunt run to even the game at 14.   The Titans made it back to the red zone, but Baldwin missed a 30-yard field goal.  Schoolcraft engineered a 10-run, 80-yard drive and took the lead for the first time with a three-yard Hunt run.   United would punt twice more before halftime with Schoolcraft punting and throwing an interception to Aaron Verkaik, keeping the Eagles up 21-14 at the break.

Schoolcraft punted to start the third quarter and Bartholomew had a stellar return, placing the Titans inside the 20.  Wenzel threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Warner (although he had retreated all the way back to the 25 to fling it), tying the game midway through the third quarter at 21.

After trading punts into the fourth quarter, Wenzel was intercepted at midfield by Mark Melching, who brought the ball all the way to the five-yard line for Schoolcraft.  Three plays later, Kobe Clark was in the end zone on a three-yard rush and Schoolcraft had a 28-21 lead with 6:15 left in the game.

United had no choice but punting after taking a big sack on their next drive, giving Schoolcraft the ball with the lead and under five minutes remaining.   The Titans were able to force a turnover on downs, barely making a stop on a fourth and inches at the Titan 29-yard line with 2:36 remaining.   After struggling to pass in the second half, the Titans used a 59-yard Warner rushing touchdown to even the game with 1:42 left.

The Eagles made it past midfield and were closing in on field goal range in the final minute, but a running back pass attempt by Kobe Clark was intercepted by Bartholomew, giving United the ball with 44 seconds left at their own 32.    A 28-yard reception in traffic by Baldwin pushed the Titans to the Eagle 21 with 19 seconds remaining.   A spike and two incompletions left a fourth down and 10 with 6.5 seconds to go.

The kicking team took the field with fireworks visible beyond the goalposts from nearby McCamley Field at Portage Central.   The snap and hold were solid and Baldwin booted it through from 38 yards out for the 31-28 win.

Unofficially, Brenden Warner rushed for 285 yards on 23 carries with a rushing and receiving touchdown.  Eric Wenzel was 17-35 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  Heath Baldwin had 102 receiving yards off six catches and a touchdown.

Schoolcraft tallied 351 rushing yards.  Jack Hunt had 202 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries.  Kobe Clark added 132 rushing on 17 tries with one score.   Brady Flynn and Clark were a combined 0-5 passing with two interceptions.

Schoolcraft and United are now 1-1 against each other, as the Eagles had won the previous meeting in 2014.   Schoolcraft had dominated Hackett Catholic and Kalamazoo Christian prior to the co-op’s forming, going a combined 16-1 against the two schools.

Kalamazoo United will be in the postseason for the second time in the co-op’s four-year history next weekend and has a decent chance to host their game thanks to Friday’s win.   Schoolcraft must wait until Sunday’s selection show to see if they sneak into the field at 5-4.    Listen back to week nine’s game below:


PREVIEW: Schoolcraft (5-3) Hosts Kalamazoo United (6-2) in Regular Season Finale

10-20 football
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Schoolcraft Eagles host the Kalamazoo United Titans for the final week of the high school football regular season.  At 5-3, Schoolcraft must win to guarantee their ninth consecutive postseason appearance.  With a loss, their only hope would be taking one of the final spots at 5-4 based on playoff points.

At 6-2, United will be a playoff team for the second time in the co-op’s four-year history.   However, a win over Schoolcraft could be the difference between hosting or traveling for their first round game.   The last three United games were decided by a combined six points, with wins over Constantine (32-30) and Coloma (28-27), along with a loss to Delton Kellogg (35-32).

Schoolcraft dropped their last two games, 36-14 to Watervliet and 32-7 at Coloma.   Despite strong rivalries with Hackett Catholic and Kalamazoo Christian in other sports, this will be the first football meeting between Schoolcraft and the United co-op as members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC).    They last met in United’s first season as Kalamazoo Valley Association members in 2014, a 28-7 Schoolcraft win.    Historically, Schoolcraft is a perfect 11-0 against Hackett and 5-1 against Kalamazoo Christian, the lone defeat in 2008.

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