Girls varsity basketball falls to Grandville 39-28 in scrappy battle

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Injuries and ineligibilities among starting seniors left the Lady Rangers with an uphill battle in Friday night’s contest against the Grandville Bulldogs. FHC was led by junior Claire Baguley on offense and senior Breanna Probst on defense in this scrappy home season-opener, but ultimately fell to the Bulldogs 39-28.

“We had some girls step into some different shoes who clearly were not confident in their roles tonight,” second-year Head Coach Kristina Prins said. “But overall they played with a lot of heart and I’m proud of that.”

Junior Kaitlyn Piontkowsky took the tip for the Rangers to start the game, as the ball ended up going out of bounds and giving Grandville possession. FHC ran a tight man defense and rebounded a missed Bulldog three pointer. Claire then passed it to senior Ashley Lutkenhoff under the basket for the first score of the game. The next points for either team would not come for about another four minutes, as both defenses caused numerous turnovers throughout the entire game. A early substitution sent freshman point guard Zoe Lipke into the game for the Rangers.

“I was so nervous before the game because this was my first high school game,” Zoe said. “But as we started warming up I started getting calmer and when I came out on the court I felt really good.”

Those in the stands would not be able to tell Zoe was a freshman, as she looked comfortable and collected on the court.

“It was good to see [Zoe] confident and step into the point guard role seamlessly,” Prins said.

Grandville was finally able to earn their first score about halfway through the quarter from a shot underneath the basket as they exploited a Ranger press. Claire then responded, driving in for an easy layup. This put the score at 4-2 with the Rangers leading, as it stayed for the rest of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs came into the second quarter shooting, as they sank a three from the corner and another basket inside to take a 7-4 lead. Then down at the other end, Claire pump-faked and drove to the basket again, closing the gap to just one point.

It was then FHC’s ball again and with both teams scrapping for the ball, junior Chloe Grooters caught the Bulldogs out of position and passed the ball across the court to Claire under the basket. This score put the Rangers ahead by one. After an overthrown pass by Grandville, Claire found the ball in her hands and once again drove to the basket for an easy bucket, this time off a pick from Kaitlyn.

Grandville then had a spark in their offense, making a layup on a backdoor cut, a hook shot, and a three pointer to make the score 14-10. A Bulldog post then went to work down low, scoring again and putting the Rangers down by six.

Chloe was substituted in and got the ball. She drove towards the hoop then kicked it out to Zoe on the wing for a huge three pointer. After forcing a turnover, FHC had the ball again. Claire beat a double team on the press and passed to Breanna in the corner, who sank another three pointer in the final seconds of the half.

The Rangers and Bulldogs went into the locker room tied at 16.

This low-scoring half was thanks to both defenses causing an excessive amount of turnovers on both sides. Breanna was all over the Bulldogs, effectively getting steals and causing disruptions play after play.

“I think [the turnovers] just brought a lot of energy to the court,” Breanna said. “It makes us just get pumped up; we pump each other up through steals.”

Coming out of the half, it was Grandville’s ball and they scored a quick basket. Claire then responded and tied it up again on a drive. The relentless Ranger defense started to feel the effects of fatigue during a stretch in the third. Prins took a timeout to give her players a rest as Grandville pulled out to a six point lead. The visitors would score once more in the quarter, leading 27-19 going into the fourth.

FHC got the ball to start the fourth quarter and Claire was fouled on the shot. Having a goal to have a better percentage from the line this season, she took and made both of her free throws. A Grandville player at the post then went to work and made another basket.

Breanna then broke up a Grandville pass, Chloe picked up the ball and launched it to Claire on a fast break. Claire had out-run her opponent down the court and made a wide-open layup, the score now being 32-24 Bulldogs.

The Ranger defense continued to play well, running a tight full-court press and causing the Bulldogs to take a timeout on two different possessions as they were unable to get the ball across half court in enough time.

A few tough breaks on calls sent multiple Bulldog players to the line as Grandville was in the bonus for fouls. A stellar free throw shooting team, Grandville continued to slowly increase their lead in the final minute of the game.

A final in-bound pass to Ashley and her basket would prove to not be enough for the victory, as the Lady Rangers fell to Grandville with a final score of 39-28.

“I think we had a pretty solid first half,” Claire said. “The second half wasn’t as good, but I think the effort was there the whole game and that’s a good start.”

The girls varsity basketball team faces a quick, scrappy, and athletic team in East Kentwood next Friday.

“[East Kentwood is] returning pretty much the entire team and they were unbelievable last year,” Prins said. “We’re just going to use that [game] as a building tool and play hard defense and see if we can hold them to a low number.”

Despite a tough loss tonight and a talented opponent next week, the team has a good outlook on this season.

“I think [this loss] will make us stronger and help us learn from our mistakes,” Breanna said. “It was our first game so now we can use what we did wrong and work on it in practice and hopefully fix it for the following games.”