MENDON Not every school has the opportunity to play for a regional title, but for coach Calvin Quist and his Athens High girls’ basketball team, it was business as usual Thursday night as the Indians won their second consecutive Class D regional championship by defeating Hillsdale Academy, 68-42, at Mendon High School.
“I never get bored of this, I enjoy seeing their faces when we’re successful,” Quist said.
Athens (21-3), which lost in last year’s state title game, advanced to face Plymouth Christian in a Class D quarterfinal next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Battle Creek Central High. Plymouth Christian beat Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, 41-35, on Thursday in a regional title game at Bellevue High.
Chantel Davenport had another strong night for the Indians, racking up 14 points and six rebounds while sparking an early-game run by scoring seven points in the opening quarter.
“We’re trying to get her to be more aggressive, she’s one of the best finishers I’ve had in this program. She just jumps so high and gets above the action,” Quist said.
After taking a year off from the program, Davenport has become of the team’s go-to scorer, a fact that was evident throughout the game.
“I’m pretty excited. I’m doing better than I thought I would be after taking a year off,” Davenport said.
Quist let his girls enjoy the moment knowing they’d be back in the gym over the weekend, working out the kinks before playing a state quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday at BCC.
“We’re deciding what our practice schedule is going to be, we’ll probably go back to fundamentals. We’ve got to go back to the basics, go over defense and probably some shooting,” Quist said.
One aspect of the game the Indians won’t need to improve is their tenacity on the glass. Athens once again proved to be a force in the paint, coming away with an impressive 37-17 rebounding advantage against the Colts.
“I’ve never been blessed with big post players, so I think that makes us scrappier both defensively and offensively,” Quist said.
Audrey Oswalt had 13 points, nine rebounds and two steals for the Indians. Also, Leia Fuller had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Allison Fuller had 11 points and three assists. Additionally, Allysha Beal had eight points and six boards.
The Indians took down a Hillsdale Academy (17-2) squad that had been ranked 10th in Class D — the outcome marking only the Colts’ second loss on the year and proved to Quist that honorable mention Athens can compete with anyone.
“I think our league prepares us for that, day in and day out we’re banging with some good teams and some exceptional teams with good size. We’re a pretty physical team, we have to be in the Big Eight. We’re the little girl on the block, we’re Class D and playing all these Class C teams,” Quist said.
The Colts were led by Elyse Lisznyai who scored a game-high 17 points.
The final score indicated another easy Athens victory, but Quist said his team had to battle for all four quarters to come away on top.
“Our theme is to play hard, play hard on every possession. Know what your job is and go out there and try every possession, offensively and defensively. That’s a lofty goal, but that’s what I want mentally in their heads,” Quist said.