Eagles advance to face Blue Devils for Class C district championship
WHITE PIGEON — A pair of boys’ basketball teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley Division will battle it out for a Class C district championship Friday at White Pigeon.
Schoolcraft (21-1) meets Lawton (6-16) in the championship at 7 p.m.
In Wednesday’s semifinal games, Schoolcraft turned back Centreville 67-46 and Lawton disposed of White Pigeon 59-53. Centreville finishes 14-7 while White Pigeon ends the season at 3-18.
Schoolcraft 67, Centreville 46
Schoolcraft’s quickness helped the Eagles open up an early 11-1 lead on Centreville to start the contest.
Max Kulczyk scored the Eagles’ first five points of the ballgame, including a three-pointer to help set the tone. Caleb Eustice added a pair of layups and Ricky Clark had a transition bucket in the spurt.
Centreville marched back within six on back-to-back baskets inside by junior center Hayden Stauffer (6-foot-5) and forward Chris Cooper (6-6).
Schoolcraft, however, went on a 14-10 run to finish off the period and grab a 25-11 advantage entering the second quarter.
Eustice and Kulczyk both knocked down a three-pointer within a couple minutes of the period.
Centreville got a spark in the second quarter from senior Coletin Gascho, who scored six of his nine points in the stanza, before leaving the game with a knee injury.
The Bulldogs continued to get stellar play inside from Stauffer and Cooper. Both of Centreville’s big men did a great job during that stretch of pivoting inside then dishing the ball back out on the perimeter for mid-range jumpshots.
Behind the play of Gascho, Stauffer, Cooper and Tyler Carpenter Centreville staged a late run in the quarter to pull with seven, 34-27, at halftime.
“We started out really well and maybe it was too easy. I thought we took our foot off the throttle a bit in the first half,” said Schoolcraft coach Randy Small.
“We did a much better job in the second half by playing more aggressively. They just killed us on the interior the first couple quarters. I thought we let Hayden Stauffer have his way inside on us. We have to do a better job in there against guys like him.”
Cooper poured in 12 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Stauffer added 11 points, six boards, three assists and one steal. Brady Reynolds and Carpenter finished with six points each for Centreville, which finished the night 14-of-28 from the floor and 13-of-16 at the free-throw line.
Carpenter also had three rebounds and four assists. Reynolds had four assists and four rebounds.
Schoolcraft was able to get out and run more to start the second half and its quickness and transition baskets off its press soon yielded big results.
The Eagles soon found themselves up by double digits 39-27 after Kulczyk knocked down another three-pointer.
Centreville eventually came charging back to within seven, 42-35 after Reynolds drained a triple and Stauffer scored down low.
Jason Feddema, Schoolcraft’s 6-5 senior center, had a key putback and free throw and Eustice added a layup and three-pointer to send the Eagles into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 54-38 lead.
Schoolcraft added key transition buckets and free throws to help them seal up the win as it outscored Centreville 13-8 in the final stanza.
Centreville increased its win total from 10 last season to 14 this year, the most by any Bulldog squad for several years.
“We gave Schoolcraft too many second-chance opportunities on the offensive boards and we didn’t get the ball inside as much as we needed to. We handled the press very well, but unfortunately didn’t get the calls we should have to play our style,” Centreville coach Mike Hunter said.
“I believe that our guys consistently played games this season with composure, heart and good sportsmanship.”
Schoolcraft got 21 points from Eustice, while Kulczyk finished the night with 15 and Ricky Clark scored 13. Feddema ended the game with seven points.
Kobe Clark had seven rebounds and four assists for the Eagles. Ricky Clark added nine boards and six steals and Eustice had five steals.
Schoolcraft outrebounded Centreville 28-22.
Lawton 59, White Pigeon 53
White Pigeon had several chances and held numerous leads in its matchup with Lawton.
Please see Thursday's Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.