Eaton Rapids clinched the outright CAAC Gold girls basketball championship, taking the title from the defending champion on their home floor, with a convincing 70-57 win Friday night at Waverly.
Bianca Cavazos led all scorers with 23 points for the Class B, ninth-ranked Greyhounds (16-2 overall, 10-0 CAAC Gold), who opened up a three-game lead in the standings with two league games to go with the win.
The loss marked the end of an extraordinary streak for the Warriors, who had finished as league champions every year since the CAAC was formed in 2003.
Eaton Rapids coach Willis Whitmyer said that his team will not rest on its historic laurels.
“We will definitely celebrate tonight, and then get back to work,” Whitmyer said. “We have a couple of tough games left and we want to take care of the district if at all possible.”
The Greyhounds raced ahead early, going on a 14-0 run in a four-minute span to jump out to a 17-4 lead in the first quarter, but Waverly (10-8, 7-3) did not surrender the title easily. The Warriors clawed back into the game, trailing by three points, 35-32 at the half.
Victoria Milton led Waverly with 20 points, including two free throws that gave her team a brief second-half lead, 36-35 with 6:29 left in the third quarter. Bailey Baker took the lead back with two free throws a minute later, and while the game stayed within two possessions for the bulk of the second half, the Warriors would never lead again.
Both teams had to withstand foul trouble in the paint, as Waverly’s Breanna Mobley and Allie Dittmer of Eaton Rapids each picked up her fourth foul in the opening minutes of the second half.
“That had a big impact,” Waverly coach T.J. Hawkins said. “(Mobley) was our main person guarding Dittmer, and she also makes a huge offensive impact for us. We lost a little bit of rebounding, we lost a little bit of post defense, and with that, you saw the momentum of the game change.”
But Dittmer led the charge that finally put the game, and the league title, away for the Greyhounds, scoring 10 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter, six of them finishing on the fast break.
“We had to be kind of conservative with her because of the foul trouble, but I thought she played smart,” Whitmyer said. “She took her chances when she had to, and she will get down the floor. She handles the ball for us, she had some big rebounds, she and Bailey Baker came up big. She’s been our go-to all year.”
Baker finished with 17 points for the Greyhounds.
Waverly freshman Shadaira McCarty came off the bench to score 12 points at Mobley finished with 11.