Reed City girls claim district championship

REMUS — It had all the drama that a Class B district girls basketball title game could offer.

But Friday night, Reed City (11-11) got the upper hand over Clare with a 48-47 championship victory in the title game at Chippewa Hills. It’s Reed City’s first girls basketball district title since 2000.

Alyssa Olds had a driving layup with less than 10 seconds to play for the winning points and made the game-clinching steal moments later.

“It’s amazing, we did this for Koop,” Olds said, referring to longtime girls basketball coach Brian Koopman. “We knew he wanted it and we wanted it, and we did it for the seniors and everybody. We did this for him.”

“They’ve worked hard,” Koopman said. “Halfway through our season, we lost to Central Montcalm by 20 points at home. We talked individually and said ‘this is what we have to do to win this thing.’ They bought into it, we did it and here we are.”

Reed City played against Manistee Tuesday at Big Rapids in a regional semifinal game.

Clare outscored Reed City 15-6 in the second quarter to take a 23-19 halftime lead.

Hanna Price and Emily Libey both had 3-pointers and Lauren Voelker added six points in a strong first quarter that ended in a 14-8 Coyote lead.

But Reed City’s shooting went cold in the second quarter with only a 3-pointer from Price and field goal from Kamryn Myers for its five points. Natalie Kunse’s 3-pointer from just past the half-court line gave the Pioneers their four-point halftime edge.

Clare had a 6-0 run to open the third quarter for a 29-19 lead.

“Usually in the third quarter, we start down,” Voelker said. “But third quarters are the time for us to shine. We came back and fought more. We knew we had to put it in our hearts that we wanted to win, and go out and do it.”

“They did a good job of working us on defense,” Koopman said. “Our man-to-man got tired and wasn’t as effective. Clare shot the ball really well in the first half. I told our girls to stay with it, get the rebounds and don’t let them sit in the zone.”

Libey hit two 3-pointers to get Reed City back in the game. Olds drove for a basket with three seconds left in the third to cut Clare’s lead to 35-33.

Price opened the fourth quarter with a 17-footer to tie the game. Lexy Harton scored for a 39-36 Clare lead at the six-minute mark. Voelker’s two free throws gave Reed City a 42-41 lead at 4:30.

Libey drove for a basket and 44-43 lead at 1:58. Price’s two free throws made it 46-43 at 1:03 and Clare turned over the ball but got it back with 45 seconds to play. Harton scored to cut it to 46-45 and Peyton Hubbell was fouled with 19.4 seconds to go after making a steal. She hit both free throws for a 47-46 lead. Reed City called a timeout with 14.2 seconds to go.

Olds drove for the layup and one-point lead with 7.3 seconds to play. She also stole the first pass after the inbounds throw to secure the win.

“Libey was supposed to come all the way around and I was supposed to throw it to her, and then she was supposed to dump it into Lauren,” Olds said. “But if we couldn’t do that, they were going to give it to me and I was going to drive. I knew I had to (make it).”

The Coyotes focused defensively on making sure Clare’s weakest ball handler got the inbounds pass. 

“It feels great,” Koopman said. “That last minute and 21 seconds was painful. We drew up a play at the end, I said ‘go Libey, back to Olds’ for a handoff or drive with Lauren at weakside and it worked.”

“We had to play hard on defense, work the ball more on offense and calm our nerves down, and stop throwing the ball away,” Voelker said.

Voelker led the Coyotes with 14 points, followed by Libey with 13 and Price with 10. Harton led Clare with 20 points.

“There’s so much joy and happiness,” Reed City senior Brenna Westhoff said. “We worked so hard for this. We knew we had to play our own game and calm down.”

Reed City beat Clare 38-29 earlier in the season. The Coyotes had an emotional 48-41 win over Big Rapids in Wednesday’s semifinal round.

Voelker missed most of last season with an ACL tear when the Coyotes were 0-21.

“This shows that anything is possible,” Voelker said. “All we have to do is work hard.”

“The kids are resilient,” Koopman said. “They kept fighting hard and kept fighting back, and they did it.”