Chippewa Hills sneaks past Reed City

REMUS — Reed City’s girls basketball team continues to focus on a strong late-season finish, but couldn’t quite pick up what would have been a rewarding victory on Monday.

Emily Starck hit two free throws with 4.4 seconds left Monday night to give Chippewa Hills a 48-46 victory over Central State Activities Association rival Reed City.

Starck’s foul shots gave her team the two-point victory.

Hannah Guy scored 16 points for the Warriors while Starck and Blake Kuzma netted 10 apiece.

Starck’s father and coach, Lenny Starck, said he felt confident with the ball in her hands at the foul-line.

“She had a couple of turnovers (Monday), but overall she was pretty good in the second half,” Starck said. “She’s a good free-throw shooter. I was not worried when she was stepping to the line.”

Karah Hensel scored 16 points for Reed City while Lauren Voelker followed with 11 points.

“It was a game of runs,” Lenny Starck said. “We didn’t start out very well and Reed played really well. We adjusted, changed defenses and got ourselves back in the game.”

The two teams battled in spurts in the first half, which ended in a 24-19 Warrior lead.

In the first quarter, Chippewa Hills fired out to a 6-2 lead. But Voelker came off the bench and hit two baskets to spark a 9-0 Coyote run and 11-6 lead.

Chippewa Hills trailed 11-8 after the first quarter. On the strength of seven Hannah Guy points, the Warriors soared to a 23-14 lead in the second quarter as the Coyotes fell into a shooting slump.

Hensel and Alaina Woodard opened the third quarter with baskets to cut the Warrior lead to one. Starck’s triple gave the Warriors a 28-23 lead.

Kuzma had a pair of baskets to spark the hosts to a 34-26 lead. Voelker had seven points in the quarter to help the Coyotes keep in touch. Hensel was fouled at the buzzer while trying a desperation shot and hit all three free throws, cutting the Warrior lead to 39-35 going into the fourth.

Switzer scored for Reed City to cut it to a two-point game. Hensel hit two straight that gave the visitors a 41-40 lead at 5:27.

It was tied 41-41 with both teams struggling with their shooting. Kendall Boone scored for a 46-43 lead but Hensel cut it to two at the other end with 1:30 to play. Hensel hit a free throw with 42 seconds to play to tie the game and the Warriors turned it over at the other end. The Warriors got a steal with 15 seconds to play and called time with 8.4 seconds left.

Woodard committed her fifth foul with 4.4 seconds left, sending Starck to the line. She hit both for the two-point lead and another timeout was called.

On the second pass after the inbounds for Reed City, Hensel took the ball at half-court and shot from  beyond the key but couldn’t connect.

It was another tough loss for the Coyotes, coach Brian Koopman noted.

“We’ve had several of those throughout the year,” he said. “We lost to Morley twice like that, plus Newaygo, Pine River. We’ve had a lot of close games like that.”

Also for the Coyotes, Westhoff grabbed 15 rebounds while Hensel had five steals and four assists.

“Brian’s a great coach,” Starck said. “He’s going to adjust. It was a game of adjustments. I think I probably got the last one in.”

The Warriors improved to 13-3 overall and 12-3 in the league. Reed City fell to 9-6 in the league and 9-8 overall.

“I thought it was a good hard fought game,” Koopman said. “We had a lot of fouls called on us. I thought my kids showed a lot of resilience. They played hard and didn’t give up.”

In the league race, the Warriors are one game behind the Mohawks and two behind Lakeview.

“We have to win out if we’re going to have a chance,” Starck said.

Reed City is at Hesperia Thursday.

“We’re out of the conference hunt but we still have a district to play for,” Koopman said. “It doesn’t matter what your record is. We just have to get better. I think every game we are getting better. We still make some dumb mistakes, but that’s besides the point. We have to keep playing. We have to play for the district. I tell the kids we have to get in better shape, get more physical, correct the little mistakes at the end and win the game.”