Cats hold off Bulldogs, seize sole possession of first in South Division

THREE RIVERS — Whatever ailed the Three Rivers boys’ basketball team 24 hours earlier vanished by the time the boys took the floor for Tuesday’s Wolverine Conference game at home against rival Vicksburg.
After watching his ballclub drop a 64-46 non-league decision Monday at Battle Creek Harper Creek, Brian Burg didn’t have to remind his Wildcats the importance of a win over the Bulldogs.
“Last night was a case where it was a Monday night game against a non-league opponent and we just weren’t prepared to play,” Burg said of the Harper Creek game.
Three Rivers built an 11-point lead in the first-half and held on in the second half to post an eventual 75-70 victory.
The win improves Three Rivers to 3-0 in the Wolverine’s South Division for sole possession of first place and a 7-3 overall.
Vicksburg falls to 1-3 in the division and 4-6 overall.
In other league games Tuesday, Paw Paw beat Dowagiac 81-55, Sturgis topped Edwardsburg 49-36, South Haven held off Plainwell 46-42 and Otsego routed Allegan 80-33.
“Our motto tonight was to come out of this game 3-0 in the division and we were successful,” Burg said. “We want to keep ourselves in a position to win the division and play in the conference championship. This was another step toward that goal.”
One of Carson Charvat’s worst games on the offensive end against Harper Creek was followed up by a career-high 31 points against Vicksburg. The 6-foot-5 senior power forward added eight rebounds for the Cats.
“We talked about not dwelling on last night’s loss and to just come out tonight and play better,” Charvat said.
“I just came out and did my part to help Tirrell open up the inside just like Coach Burg teaches us. I don’t know how to explain the three-pointers. It’s just part of my game. Tonight we just came out with a lot of energy.”
Charvat and Hausmanis established control inside for Three Rivers, especially in the first half.
“Carson really stepped up and attacked the basket tonight. He made the shots when we really needed them,” Burg said.
“Tirrell was making shots early for us before he got into foul trouble.”
Hausmanis, Three Rivers’ 6-5, 240-pound junior center, added 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Cats.
Sophomore guard Jalen Heivilin added seven points (7-of-8 at the foul stripe), two assists and six rebounds for Three Rivers.
Senior guard Sam Hawkins added six points, six assists and five rebounds for Three Rivers.
The Cats’ other starting forward Gavin Charvat, a sophomore and Carson’s younger brother, chipped in with six points and five rebounds.
Senior Eric Johnson (6-4) gave Three Rivers another big lift inside coming off the bench to score eight points and rip down four rebounds.
The Cats ended the night shooting 28-of-55 from the floor (51 percent) and hit on 15-of-21 free-throw attempts (71 percent).
Three Rivers outrebounded Vicksburg 40-33 and committed 15 turnovers, including just one during the fourth quarter.
Three Rivers entered the fourth quarter holding a 54-48 lead over Vicksburg.
Hausmanis bullied his way inside the lane and banked a shot in off the glass on Three Rivers first possession of the final period to give the Cats an eight-point lead, 56-48.
It was the largest lead Three Rivers would enjoy the rest of the night.
Vicksburg quickly erased the deficit and tied the contest up at 56-56 on Trenton Lomason’s three-pointer, Adam Grabowski’s two free throws and a field goal and single charity toss from teammate Deondre Lovell.
Three Rivers eventually took a three-point lead, 62-59 on Johnson’s putback with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter.
Vicksburg would ultimately rally to grab a 63-62 lead on Lovell’s drive for two inside the lane. Lovell also made two free throws on the Bulldogs’ next possession.
The Wildcats regained the lead for good, 64-63, on a Carson Charvat bucket inside.
Heivilin stepped up to the line in the waning two and a half minutes and hit 5-of-6 free-throw attempts and Hawkins went a perfect 6-for-6 at the charity stripe on the night and sealed up the win.
“We switched to a 2-3 zone in that fourth quarter and guys like Carson and Eric got some key rebounds for us late in the game,” Burg said. “Our kids responded in the second half.”
Lovell and Lomason both scored 24 points apiece for Vicksburg. Blake Rankin chipped in with nine points for the Bulldogs, Grabowski added eight and CJ Laske and Brenden Lovell chipped in two points each and James Kienbaum finished with one point.
“We played hard, but dug ourselves in a big hole with a few bad possessions in that first half. It takes a lot of energy to get out of that kind of deficit,” said Vicksburg coach Rob Johnson.
“They (Three Rivers) are really difficult to defend inside with Carson Charvat and Hausmanis. I can see why they are beating a lot of teams with those two kids. We played with better rhythm in the second half and it allowed us to get ourselves back into the contest.”
Three Rivers raced out to a 20-16 lead over Vicksburg after the first quarter.
The Cats built a 10-0 lead to start the game. Hausmanis scored 11 points in the period while Carson Charvat added seven.
The older Charvat put on a shooting clinic in the second period draining two more three-pointers and adding another 14 points to his final point tally.
Three Rivers’ 18-13 run during the second quarter put the Wildcats in front 38-29 entering halftime.
Three Rivers enjoyed its largest lead of the contest 42-30 early in the third quarter on a mid-range jump shot from Gavin Charvat.
Three Rivers visits Edwardsburg for another key division matchup Friday night.
“Edwardsburg plays a slow offense and pass the ball around the perimeter to get good shots. They like to lull you to sleep defensively and get a backdoor pass for a basket on you,” Burg said. “We have two days to prepare. It’s another divisional game and we want to be 4-0 Friday night.”

Three Rivers JV 67, Vicksburg 55
Three players scored in double figures to help the Three Rivers jayvee boys’ basketball team to a 67-55 win at home against Vicksburg.
Three Rivers led Vicksburg 22-14 after one period, 36-23 at halftime and 53-35 after three periods.
Nolan Mark scored 22 points for Three Rivers. Bryce Morlan added 20 and Parker Ellifritz scored 11. Traven Van Oss finished with eight points for the Cats.

Three Rivers freshmen 71, Vicksburg 52
Ross O’Connor poured in a season-high 35 points for Three Rivers and Eddie Thompson finished with 12.
Three Rivers led Vicksburg 16-7 after one period, 29-22 at halftime and 52-43 after three periods.
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or sports@threeriversnews.com.

Three Rivers Commercial-News

124 North Main Street
Box 130
Three Rivers, MI 49093

Telephone: 269-279-7488
Fax: 269-279-6007
General email: info@threeriversnews.com