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Cards upset Warriors, Coyotes fall to Pioneers in Class B district semis

CLARE — Three teams in the Central State Activities Association (CSAA) came into Wednesday’s Class B girls basketball district semifinals at Clare High School, but only one was left standing once the dust had settled. Reed City (10-10, 10-7 CSAA) fell 57-37 to the host Clare Pioneers (19-1) in the first semifinal matchup of the day while Big Rapids (8-13, 7-11 CSAA) stunned Chippewa Hills (16-4, 15-3 CSAA) in the other semifinal contest with a 52-39 victory to setup a district championship game between the Cardinals and Pioneers at 7 p.m. Friday night at CHS. For Big Rapids coach Jessica Haist, she said the team she saw take down the Warriors was the team she’s known she’s had all season long, even if the Cardinals’ record didn’t show it. “My kids have worked hard all year and we’ve had the pieces, but we just couldn’t get any buckets,” she said. “We’ve talked a lot this week about confidence and just the mental aspect of the game and believing that everything starts over in districts. “We knew we were the underdogs and we weren’t expected to come out of here,” she continued. “We talked a lot about being fearless and we’re a good team, but we just needed to believe that. The girls got after it and the kids worked hard.” The nightcap between the Cardinals and the Warriors got off to a frantic start with Chippewa Hills racing out to a 6-2 lead following a layup from Hannah Guy, but the Cardinals would respond with an 8-4 run to knot the score at 10-10 midway through the first quarter after a jumper from Reba Bowen before the two squads ended the quarter tied at 13-13. Big Rapids would start to take control of the game in the second quarter with the Cardinals opening the second with a 6-0 run that was capped off by another Bowen jumper to give Big Rapids a 19-14 lead, but the Warriors rallied back with a 5-2 run to cut the Cardinal lead to two halfway through the quarter after a pair of free throws from Callee Stirn. With the Warriors rallying, the Cardinals closed out the half with a 7-2 run to head into halftime with a 28-21 lead. Chippewa Hills kept hanging around in the third quarter, though, with the Warriors cutting the Cardinal lead to 32-27 with 3:25 to play after Emily Starck sank a pair of free throws. The Warriors would pull within three points in the final minute of the quarter after a putback by Blake Kuzma, but Big Rapids got a layup from Bowen to end the quarter with a slim 36-31 lead. With the district championship game in their sights, the Cardinals opened the fourth quarter with two-straight buckets from Kailey Hunt before Alexis Lyman split a pair at the charity stripe and Ashley Seath went two-for-two at the line to push the Cardinal lead to 43-32 with just over four minutes left in regulation. The Warriors would get the Big Rapids lead back down to nine with 1:38 to play following a pair of free throws from Kendall Boone, but Big Rapids would go six-of-eight from the line down the stretch to secure the victory and a date with Clare on Friday. Seath had 16 points and three steals for Big Rapids while Hunt recorded 13 points and 11 rebounds and Bowen had 10 points and Chloe Kinnally tallied five points, eight rebounds and four assists. Guy and Boone each had 10 points for the Warriors while Stirn had eight points and Starck recorded five points. “I have to give all the credit to Jessica and (Cardinal assistant coach Dawn Thompson) for getting their team ready,” Chippewa Hills coach Lenny Starck said. “They palyed fantastic and they did the things they needed to be successful and the scoreboard shows that.” On the other side of the district bracket, the Coyotes and Pioneers opened up Wednesday’s action with a game that was much closer than the final score indicated. The Pioneers opened the game with a 15-6 run, but Reed City’s Makenzie Switzer nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to 15-9 midway through the first quarter and after a Clare field goal on the next possession, Switzer came right back down the court with a basket of her own to put the score at 17-11 in favor of Clare before the two sides each scored six points apiece to close out the quarter at 23-17 in favor of the Pioneers. Switzer had 10 of the Coyotes’ 17 points in the opening quarter. The second quarter wasn’t as kind to the Coyotes, though, as they only hit one shot in the quarter, a trey from Switzer, and Clare scored 11 points in the quarter to head into the half with a 34-20 lead. With the Pioneers leading 39-23 halfway through the third, Reed City’s Lauren Voelker scored the Coyotes’ next five points to pull them within 13 before the Coyotes ended the third trailing 43-31. That was as close as the Coyotes would get, however, as the Pioneers outscored them 14-6 in the final frame to eliminate Reed City from the postseason with a 57-37 victory. “I thought we had a good gameplan and the one thing we’ve struggled with this year is making shots at times and we struggled with that (Wednesday),” Reed City coach Brian Koopman said. “I thought our gameplan was good and the kids played hard and I thought we had some nice shots, but they just didn’t fall. “I’d like to commend my seniors,” he added. “They worked hard all season and they’re great young ladies and they represented Reed City well.” Switzer led the Coyotes with 16 points while Karah Hensel had nine points and seven rebounds, Voelker recorded eight points, Jacolyn Mullins pulled down four rebounds and Alaina Woodard had three steals. Kodi Humphery led the Pioneers with 32 points while Lindsay Winter had 26 points. CLARE 57, REED CITY 37 RC 17 03 11 06 – 37 CL 23 11 09 14 – 57 REED CITY (10-10, 10-7 CSAA) Karah Hensel 1(2) 1-2 9, Kayla Davis 1 0-0 2, Lauren Voelker 2 4-7 8, Makenzie Switzer 2(4) 0-0 16, Jacolyn Mullins 1 0-0 2. BIG RAPIDS 52, CHIPPEWA HILLS 39 BR 13 15 08 16 – 52 CH 13 08 10 08 – 39 BIG RAPIDS (8-13, 7-11 CSAA) Aliza Hengesbach 1 2-8 4, Reba Bowen 4 2-6 10, Ashley Seath 2(2) 6-7 16, Chloe Kinnally 1(1) 0-0 5, Alexis Lyman 1 1-2 4, Kailey Hunt 6 1-2 13 CHIPPEWA HILLS (16-4, 15-3 CSAA) Olivia Wolfe 1 0-3 2, Emily Starck 1 3-4 5, Blake Kuzma 2 0-2 4, Callee Stirn 3 2-2 8, Kendall Boone 2 6-8 10, Hannah Guy 3 4-8 10