Recognizing our local “spark plug” players from our fall sports season.
Ryan Schlehuber “Scoop”
With less than five seconds play, the Tri County Vikings had two great chances to steal a win on the road. Instead, both shot attempts bounced off the rim as time ran out, giving the Central Montcalm boys basketball team a thrilling 56-54 win in its first Central State Activities Association (CSAA) game Friday.
Ashley Bowen knew it would be a close battle to the end when her Tri County Vikings basketball team came into the Hornets’ nest of Central Montcalm. With 3.2 seconds left in the game and the Vikings down by two, Bowen, a senior, tried to get open for the game-winning three-pointer. But Central Montcalm’s defense forced a shot from teammate Jenna DeGeer, which bounced off the backboard and rim, giving the Hornets a 48-46 win at home Friday.
With only two seniors returning from last year’s team, Montabella boys basketball coach Jared Simon has had to hit the reset button for this year’s team. In his second year as the Mustangs coach, Simon returns only two players with varsity experience, which even they don’t have much experience.
As only a sophomore, Summer Longstreet is making her mark in Tri County’s cross country sport. Having already set a new school record for fastest ninth and 10th grade female 5K runner, Longstreet’s expectations for the next few years may not have a ceiling.
The fire was there, the scrappiness and shot opportunities were, too. But the Montabella Mustangs couldn’t overcome the turnovers and bad bounces in the girls basketball team’s season-opening game Friday. The Mustangs, opening their new season at home, lost 43-22 to the Merrill Vandals, one of the newest members or the Mid-State Activities Conference (MSAC).
Aaron Jason’s game plan was to hold back at first when he began his race in the boys cross country regionals earlier this year. As it turned out, his “holding back” didn’t pan out and, instead, he ended up with a new personal record and a new school record, earning him the phrase, “fasted Viking ever.
Three years ago, Julia Bice wasn’t sure how good she was at golf, or even if she liked the sport enough to keep at it. This season, the Tri County junior realized her potential and how much fun she had, reaching the Div. 3 state finals as an individual qualifier.
In the 18 years Belding girls volleyball coach Mikayla Linebaugh has been coaching, a bar of expectation had been raised to a point to where winning a district title is always the goal, even in a year when it looks as though the team is rebuilding. As it turns out, the Redskins were able to retool. Belding finished with a 24-10-2 record and another district title, reaching the regionals yet again.
Kenzie Rutz’s all-around statistics with this year’s Central Montcalm volleyball team alone qualifies her as the Daily News Player of the Year, but it’s what she has done beyond statistics that really spell her worthiness.