The DeWitt girls basketball team got the opportunity to show off their program in a pair of showcase games over the holiday break, splitting games with Portland and Detroit Country Day.
The Panthers outscored Portland 18-9 in the final quarter of their game on Dec. 27 at the Mid-Michigan Showcase to win 46-39.
“It really was a typical DeWitt-Portland game, no question. Usually when we play each other it’s a real low-scoring defensive battle and it was that type of game right from the start,” DeWitt coach Bill McCullen said. “Going into this year the last six times we had played we were 3-3, so it was as intense of a game as we expected.”
The Panthers trailed by two heading into the final quarter.
“Our defense forced a couple transition opportunities and some two on one fast breaks where we took it from a one point game to a five point lead real late in the fourth quarter and it very quickly became a situation where were going to have to hit some free throws,” McCullen said. “We ended up winning by seven in a game that was right down to the wire.”
DeWitt made all 12 of their free throws in the game.
It was another big win for the Panthers, who previously had lost to Grand Ledge at home before recovering to knock off some big competition in the mid-Michigan area.
“I think for our kids to knock them off when they were 7-0, and we knocked off both Haslett and Eaton Rapids who both were undefeated at the time, so this team’s kind of grown up as we’ve gone along here,” McCullen said. “We’ve got some underclassmen playing some big roles and for them to get a big win on the road hopefully will pay dividends for us in the future.”
Abby Nakfoor, Claudia Reid and Kaylee Schmitt all had 10 points to lead the Panthers in the win.
It was the second year for the event, which was two days this year as opposed to one day last year. Last year’s edition also featured a Division II college basketball game, but this year’s version was focused more on bringing in the very best high school teams from locally and around the state.
“I hope it’s something that continues. Since we went to the winter, there’s been a boys showcase for years here in the area and yet those first two years we were in the winter season we didn’t really have an equal event for the girls,” McCullen said. “I’m hoping what (Portland coach Ray Kimball) has set up out there will continue and I hope we’ll be a part of it. …
“It’s a good opportunity for people to come and watch three or four games in one day and see some good talent. Mid-Michigan for years has been strong in girls basketball and it’s a chance for those teams to be seen by people.”
The Panthers played in another prestigious girls basketball event the following day on Dec. 28 in the Motor City Roundball Classic.
Detroit Country Day connected on a layup with five seconds left as DeWitt lost 51-50. Lexi Banaszak led DeWitt with 13 points while Schmitt added 12 points and 20 rebounds for the Panthers.
“The game was close throughout as neither team ever led by more than four points,” McCullen said. “We missed a few free throws and turned the ball over a couple of times near the end and it cost us.”
DeWitt (7-2) plays at Okemos on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and then hosts Fowlerville on Friday, Jan. 11.