Wayland has too much fire power for Three Rivers
ALLEGAN — Three Rivers learned Monday that the Wayland boys’ basketball team is as good as advertised.
No. 9-ranked Wayland used its quickness, depth, size and pressure to run past Three Rivers 67-44 in a Class B regional semifinal.
Benton Harbor beat Battle Creek Harper Creek 58-44 in the other semifinal.
Wayland (21-3) faces Benton Harbor (20-3) in Thursday’s championship at 7 p.m.
Three Rivers (15-8) hung tough with Wayland throughout the first half and early portion of the third quarter.
Sophomore Jalen Heivilin drained a three pointer to give Three Rivers an early 3-0 lead.
Wayland’s 6-foot-0 senior guard Avery Hudson, who finished with a game-high 28 points, quickly tied the game at 3-3 with a triple of his own.
Three Rivers took what would be its final lead, 6-3, after junior center Tirrell Hausmanis (6-5, 240) drained a triple on his team’s next possession.
Wayland then went on an 8-0 run to increase its lead to five, 11-6. Avery scored six of those points for the green and white-clad Wildcats and the other basket came from 6-8 senior forward Zack Nieuwkoop.
Baskets down in the post from Carson Charvat and Hausmanis lessened Three Rivers’ deficit to one, 11-10.
After Mitchell Dykstra’s putback for Wayland put it up 13-10, Hausmanis nailed another triple to tie the contest at 13-13 with 1:45 left in the period.
Jake Holtz, a 6-1 junior guard, scored off a drive to the inside to put Wayland back up by a pair. Hausmanis knocked down a mid-range jumper to knot the contest at 15-15 entering the second quarter.
“Three Rivers is a real hard-nosed type of basketball team,” said Wayland coach Mike Hudson. “We never really got that kind of momentum we wanted until late in the game. Our kids played well without Avery who was out with foul trouble until later in the game. We’ve been fortunate this year with height and kids who just play hard.”
Avery Hudson’s three-pointer put Wayland in front 18-15. But Three Rivers would pull to within a point, 18-17, on Eric Johnson’s putback.
Nieuwkoop scored from underneath and Wayland’s Depree Holloway and Dykstra both came up with steals and had layups to boost their lead to seven, 24-17.
Heivilin hit back-to-back shots on floaters in the lane to bring Three Rivers back within three, 24-21, with 2:28 left in the half.
Wayland finished the half on a 10-0, including Dykstra triple, run to boost its advantage to 34-21 entering halftime.
“We played them tough, but had what seemed like a ton of our 15 first-half turnovers in the first quarter,” said Three Rivers coach Brian Burg.
“At halftime we talked about winning the 50/50 balls, cutting down on our turnovers and making our shots.”
Three Rivers would pull within 11 points in the third quarter on Johnson’s putback, but Holloway’s two free throws for Wayland put them up 46-33 after three quarters.
Hudson’s deuce to start the final period increased Wayland’s advantage to 15, 48-33.
Three Rivers went to the outside in the final period trying to get some offense. The Wildcats came away with two three-pointers from Heivilin and one out of Sam Hawkins.
But Wayland was able to keep a comfortable lead intact with two layups and a triple from Hudson, a dunk by Nieuwkoop and a couple layups from Dykstra that sealed up the win.
“Give Wayland credit, they capitalized on their end getting turnovers off their pressure on the defensive end, but our kids kept fighting back,” Burg said.
“If we had made some of those tipins we missed that would’ve been an eight-point swing and who knows what could’ve happened.”
Heivilin played one of his finest games to date in his young varsity career with 20 points, including 4-of-8 from three-point territory.
Hausmanis finished with seven points and seven rebounds for Three Rivers, which finishes 15-8 overall and won its second straight district title.
Carson Charvat ended the night with five points and 10 rebounds, while Johnson produced four points and 14 rebounds.
Hawkins and Gavin Charvat each finished with three points, while Max Chapman added two to the Cats’ cause.
Also reaching double digits for Wayland were Nieuwkoop and Holloway with 10 each and Holtz added two.
“When I think back we’ve won 30 games the past two seasons and won two district titles. We’re really getting there and have shown we can compete at the regional level. This isn’t just a stop for us. We have to continue on and believe we can get to the next level,” Burg said.
“We’re starting to see kids coming back out for basketball, getting their academics in order and committing themselves to work hard to succeed.”
Three Rivers graduates eight seniors off this year’s team in Hawkins, Austin Wright, Zavier Barth, Esden Stafne, Carson Charvat, Chapman, Michael Coffey and Johnson.
“A lot of people don’t see how hard our seniors, who don’t get a lot of playing time, work in practice to help the starters get better,” Burg said referring to the contributions made by Wright, Stafne, Coffey, Chapman and Barth.
“Those guys work hard and don’t complain because they want to be part of this team. That’s what it takes to have a successful team. Our other seniors, some that I have had since they were in eighth grade, brought excitement back to Three Rivers basketball,” Burg said.
“Guys like Eric Johnson have really won the heart of a lot of people in our school and community. Carson Charvat went from a kid who played a lot of sports to someone who has become a great basketball player who plays above the rim.”
Burg will return Heivilin and Gavin Charvat, both sophomore starters, along with Hausmanis next season, along with Ashley Manansala and Jensin Blyly.
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or email@example.com.