The Kalamazoo Christian Comets are on to the Class C boys basketball quarterfinals for the first time since their 2008 championship season, thanks to a 51-33 victory over the Quincy Orioles in the Regional 17 final Wednesday at Bangor High School. The Comets found offensive production from eight different players and used smothering defense to keep Quincy’s top scorer Nathan Karney off the board until the fourth quarter.
“We focused on getting the ball out of his hands,” said Comets head coach Brennan Davis. “He didn’t get open. We have a couple great defenders. We really executed on both offense and defense.”
Quincy initially started ahead by three, but the Comets took an 11-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Orioles briefly got back ahead, but Kalamazoo Christian ended ahead 10-7 in the quarter for a 21-16 halftime lead. The third quarter is where the Comets assumed control, winning the frame 15-6 and holding on from there. Offensively, Alex Visser and Drew Scheffers led the way with 11 points each for Kalamazoo Christian.
“We don’t rely on one guy,” said Davis. “Noah DeJong’s defense was amazing. Drew Scheffers hitting big shots, that kid’s so clutch.” Davis also credited Adam Ritsema’s effort off the bench, seeing more time due to an illness to Jordan Katje.
Quincy finishes the season at 20-5. Freshman post William Dunn led their offense with 18 points. Karney, the lone senior in their lineup, scored seven. Kalamazoo Christian improves to 18-7 and advances to the quarterfinal round Tuesday at 7 p.m. from Davenport University.
“One of our main goals this year was to win a district title,” said Visser. “It just feels good to bring it all together at this point in the season and just start playing well.”
Next up is Covenant Christian, who defeated Muskegon Heights Academy at the buzzer to win their regional final 51-50.
You can listen to Tuesday’s quarterfinal game live on Michigan Sports Radio at 7 p.m. You can listen back to the regional final below:
The Kalamazoo Christian Comets and Quincy Orioles will meet in the Regional 17 boys basketball final on Wednesday following tight victories Monday night at Bangor High School. The Comets needed a bucket as regulation ended to force overtime and eventually defeat the Schoolcraft Eagles, 53-47. The Orioles traded the lead nine times with the Cassopolis Rangers, but held it at the end with a 64-60 final.
Kalamazoo Christian led for almost the entire first half, although their lead was never bigger than six points. Schoolcraft had a very brief one-point second quarter lead and put the score at 25-23 Comets into halftime. The Eagles had a 31-30 lead by the end of the third and remained ahead throughout almost all of the fourth quarter. The Comets erased a six-point hole in the final 1:27 to force overtime. With four seconds remaining down two, Kalamazoo Christian inbounded to Jordan Katje under the basket for the bucket to force OT.
Overtime began with a three-pointer, followed by a basket-and-one from Alex Visser to put Kalamazoo Christian ahead for good. Schoolcraft made it back within two in the final minute, but the Comets finished strong at the free throw line to avenge their two regular season losses to Schoolcraft earlier this season. Kalamazoo Christian finished 11-14 at the foul line, including a perfect 7-7 from Drew Scheffers, with the Eagles 7-15 by comparison. Visser led all players with 18 points, followed by 12 from Scheffers and 10 by Katje. Schoolcraft senior Caleb Eustice scored 16 in his final game. The Eagles end the year at 22-2 with Kalamazoo Christian improving to 17-7.
In the other game, the first quarter saw five lead changes with neither team leading by more than four. Cassopolis led 16-14 after one and never trailed in the second quarter. The Ranger lead got as big as nine, but Quincy was able to tie it up just before the break for a 27-27 score at halftime.
After four more lead changes, the Orioles ended the third quarter ahead, 41-40, then started the fourth on a 6-0 run. Cassopolis tied the game back briefly, but Quincy remained on top for much of the fourth quarter. With 17 seconds remaining, the Rangers had the ball trailing 62-60 and a chance to tie or win. Tyrese Hunt-Thompson’s shot try missed and Nathan Karney grabbed the board with six seconds remaining, securing the win after making both of his free throws.
Karney finished with 16, going 8-10 at the foul line. Freshman William Dunn topped the Orioles with 19. Sophomore Hunt-Thompson topped Cassopolis and all players with 21 points, followed by senior Shane Los’s 17. The Rangers finish at 18-5 with Quincy improving to 20-4.
The Regional final is now set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. from Bangor and can be heard live on Michigan Sports Radio. Quincy has never gone beyond the regional round, most recently losing in the 2009 final to Schoolcraft. The last time Kalamazoo Christian made it through the regional final was the 2008 season, which ended with a state championship.
Listen back to Monday’s games below
KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN VS SCHOOLCRAFT
QUINCY VS CASSOPOLIS
Listen live on Michigan Sports Radio Monday and Wednesday to the Regional #17 boys basketball games of the MHSAA Class C state tournament from Bangor High School. Monday’s semifinals feature the Cassopolis Rangers (18-4) against the Quincy Orioles (19-4) at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Schoolcraft Eagles (22-1) versus the Kalamazoo Christian Comets (16-7) around 7 p.m. The regional final will be Wednesday at 7.
Following a district tournament weekend which saw five of the Associated Press Class C top ten teams eliminated, including #1, #3, and #4, Schoolcraft sits as one of three remaining teams with one loss or fewer in the Class C field. (Interestingly enough, the other two, unbeatens Michigan Center and St. Mary Catholic Central, play each other in their regional semifinals). The Eagles mowed through their district and hold a 17-game winning streak. In that streak, they’ve beaten all but two opponents by double-digits, including a 63-47 victory over the one team to beat them this season in Hackett Catholic.
The closest team to beating Schoolcraft since their lone loss was Kalamazoo Christian. The Comets lost their first meeting with Schoolcraft 72-46 in January, but took them to the brink on February 17, falling 58-56. Of note, the Comets had also lost twice to fourth-ranked Hackett in the regular season, then downed them 48-37 in the district semifinals.
It will be the eighth postseason meeting between Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian, with the most recent one going to Schoolcraft, 56-44 in the 2012 district final. Historically, the Comets have fared better, winning five of their seven meetings. Schoolcraft last advanced out of the regional round in 2013, where they fell in the quarterfinals. Kalamazoo Christian’s last trip out of regionals was their 2008 state championship run. The Eagles won it all in 2011.
As for the other semifinal teams, Cassopolis went to double-overtime in both of their district games, defeating Watervliet (69-65) and Bridgman (60-57). It’s the first regional appearance for the Rangers since 2008, when they were knocked out by Kalamazoo Christian. Cassopolis hasn’t made it through the regional round since 1989. They don’t have any postseason history with Quincy, who topped Jonesville, Homer, and Union City in their district. The Orioles are in the regional round for the first time since 2009, when they fell to Schoolcraft in the regional final. Quincy has never advanced beyond the regional round in boys basketball.
Listen the Regional 17 games from Bangor live on Michigan Sports Radio. Quincy and Cassopolis play Monday at 5:30 p.m., followed by Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian around 7 p.m. The winners meet Wednesday at 7 p.m.