No. 7-ranked Gull Lake was playing from behind the entire game, but continued to give itself a chance for a district title. But in the end, the Blue Devils just ran out of time.
No. 4-ranked Grand Ledge held off Gull Lake, 45-44, in this Class A girls’ basketball district championship game at Gull Lake High School on Friday. Grand Ledge will play in Class A regional at Ann Arbor Huron on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils were left to scramble in the final minute to stay in the game and when Morgan Nusbaum hit a 3-pointer with :03 left, Gull Lake had finally come nearly all the way back, cutting the lead to 45-44. However, Gull Lake didn’t have any timeouts left, and Grand Ledge was able to run out the clock for the win.
“They hit that three and I looked up, didn’t know they didn’t have any timeouts. I didn’t know what was going on,” Grand Ledge coach David Jones said. “I was just glad to see we still had that one point lead.”
That final Gull Lake run was at the end of a 10-2 spurt by the Blue Devils in the final 4:50 of the contest that saw the home team come back from a 42-34 deficit.
Grand Ledge had near-double digit leads a couple times in the contest, only to see Gull Lake continue to fight back to get in the game.
“Every time we made a run, their kids were able to step up and do a few things. And the difference in the game is that we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Gull Lake coach Mike Balcom said. “We played them toe-to-toe and I couldn’t be prouder of a bunch of kids. But every time we made a run, they responded. When they had to do it, they got a shot, grabbed a rebounds and the teams that advance, that’s what they do.”
The first hole Gull Lake found itself in was during the second quarter when the Blue Devils went scoreless for nearly the first seven minutes of the period. When Gull Lake’s Mackenzie Latt hit a shot with 1:15 left in the half, it was the first basket of the second quarter and Grand Ledge had already run off a 9-0 spurt to go into halftime up 20-13.
“Yeah, that was big. Whenever you score just two points in a quarter, against a team like that, you are in trouble,” Balcom said.
However, Gull Lake came out in the second half and climbed back into the game as Abbey Watson hit a jumper to tie the score at 22-22 with 4:50 left in the third quarter. The Blue Devils stayed within reach to end the quarter as Nusbaum hit a 3-pointer with :02 left in the period and Grand Ledge would only manage a 32-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But after back-to-back 3-pointers by Lindsay Orwat and a fastbreak layup by Lauren Bachert, Grand Ledge was back on top 42-34 with 4:50 remaining. Gull Lake’s final rally would start after that, as described above, but it would fall short.
“One of our goals is to play with the lead and generally we are good at closing out games, but we got a little nervous at the end and let them come back,” Jones said. “But luckily we had enough cushion tonight. Gull Lake played with a lot of heart and desire and you have to give them credit. This was a really good girls district final.”
Not only was it a good game between two state-ranked teams, it was a good game between two of the top players in the district.
Gull Lake’s Latt, who has already signed to play basketball at Division I Davidson, controlled the paint for the Blue Devils as the 6-foot-1 senior finished with 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Grand Ledge 6-3 junior Cori Crocker, who plays like a Division I basketball prospect and is committed to play volleyball at the University of Michigan, finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
“Cori Crocker is an amazing female athlete, she can run and jump and is just the spiritual leader of his team and the girls really rally around her,” Jones said. “We knew about Mackenzie Latt coming in and we had a lot of concern about her. It was a great battle to see those two go against each other tonight.”
Orwat added 14 points for Grand Ledge with Hannah Orwat adding 12 as the Comets improve to 20-2.
Nusbaum and Abby Watson added nine points for Gull Lake as Kelsey Bauer chipped in eight as the Blue Devils end the season at 20-2.
“That’s what I just told them. Be proud. We are 20-2, won our league, it’s been a fantastic year,” Balcom said.
Class C at Mendon
Mendon 51, Bronson 18: Class C honorable mention Mendon dispatched St. Joseph Valley league rival Bronson in the district championship to move on to the regional at Hillsdale.
Class D at Tekonsha
Jackson Christian 56, Bellevue 33: Jackson Christian ended Bellevue’s hopes at back-to-back district titles, and will move on to the regional at Morenci Area.
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