2017-03-09 / Sports

St. Ignace Girls Claim District Basketball Crown, Topping Newberry 43-38

By Kevin R. Hess


The St. Ignace Saints won the Rudyard District of the Class C State Tournament, defeating the Newberry Indians 43-38. This is the 15th district championship and the ninth consecutive for the Saints. Members of this year’s team are (back row, from left): Assistant Coach Robin Kissinger, Assistant Coach Garth Law, Madison Olsen, Abby Larsen, Coach Doug Ingalls, Emma Feleppa, Linnie Gustafson, Tasheka Battick, Emily Coveyou, Anna Hart; (middle) Head Coach Dorene Ingalls, Kiara Bishop, Jade Edelman, Jordan Belleville, Keshia Davis, Courtney Frazier, Tessa Shepard, Jessie Frazier, manager Jackson Ingalls; (front) managers Emmalee Hart, Jonny Ingalls, Taylor St. Onge, Jerzie Belleville, Joycelyn Lee, Regan Mortensen, Maizey Brown, and Hallie Marshall. St. Ignace will face Iron River West Iron County in the Regionals Tuesday, March 7, at 6 p.m. in Marquette. The St. Ignace Saints won the Rudyard District of the Class C State Tournament, defeating the Newberry Indians 43-38. This is the 15th district championship and the ninth consecutive for the Saints. Members of this year’s team are (back row, from left): Assistant Coach Robin Kissinger, Assistant Coach Garth Law, Madison Olsen, Abby Larsen, Coach Doug Ingalls, Emma Feleppa, Linnie Gustafson, Tasheka Battick, Emily Coveyou, Anna Hart; (middle) Head Coach Dorene Ingalls, Kiara Bishop, Jade Edelman, Jordan Belleville, Keshia Davis, Courtney Frazier, Tessa Shepard, Jessie Frazier, manager Jackson Ingalls; (front) managers Emmalee Hart, Jonny Ingalls, Taylor St. Onge, Jerzie Belleville, Joycelyn Lee, Regan Mortensen, Maizey Brown, and Hallie Marshall. St. Ignace will face Iron River West Iron County in the Regionals Tuesday, March 7, at 6 p.m. in Marquette. The championship game of the class C Rudyard District was postponed two days due to last week’s big snowstorm, but it was worth the wait for basketball fans when Friday, March 3, the St. Ignace Saints and the Newberry Indians faced off for the third time this season. The Saints had won the first two matchups, by 15 and nine points, respectively. This game would be even closer, and would not be decided until the final seconds. When the buzzer sounded, the Saints came out on top, 43-38. Friday’s win marked the ninth consecutive district championship for St. Ignace (2009-2017), and the 15th overall.


St. Ignace sophomore Emily Coveyou dives on the floor with Newberry sophomore Adrian Depew (15) to corral a loose ball in the finals of the Class C Rudyard District. Coveyou led the team with 18 points, helping the Saints defeat the Indians 43-38 to advance to the regionals. St. Ignace plays in Marquette Tuesday, March 7, at 6 p.m. against Iron River West Iron County. St. Ignace sophomore Emily Coveyou dives on the floor with Newberry sophomore Adrian Depew (15) to corral a loose ball in the finals of the Class C Rudyard District. Coveyou led the team with 18 points, helping the Saints defeat the Indians 43-38 to advance to the regionals. St. Ignace plays in Marquette Tuesday, March 7, at 6 p.m. against Iron River West Iron County. The playoff intensity was evident for players, coaches, and fans, as every possession was crucial, every loose ball contested, and every foul questioned. St. Ignace came out of the gates strong, surging to a 19-8 first-quarter lead. Sophomore Emily Coveyou outscored Newberry by herself, scoring 10 first-quarter points. She was the beneficiary of great ball movement, led by senior captain Jade Edelman and junior Linnie Gustafson. Gustafson was aggressive, getting into the middle of the lane, collapsing the defense, and finding open teammates. She said after the game that she wanted to come out with aggressive play from the opening tip.

“It’s never fun to lose, but if you lose in the tourney, you’re done,” said Gustafson. “I wanted to come out aggressive and keep that intensity all game long.”

While the Saints came out strong, Newberry struggled to score. Freshman Makenna Bryant, normally a great shooter, struggled with her shot, going 0-4 from the field in the first quarter. Senior Taylor Bryant was able to drive the lane and find open teammates, but they were not able to execute. Overall, Newberry managed just two field goals. Both teams missed opportunities from the free throw line, missing five free throws each.

The second quarter didn’t see much action, as St. Ignace was content to play a more conservative, ball-control offense. The strategy was not planned, but the Saints found themselves with three starters on the bench in foul trouble. Newberry switched to a zone defense, and the Saints moved the ball around the perimeter, in no rush to score. High school basketball is played without a shot clock, meaning teams can take as much as time as they want before attempting a shot. On the first possession of the second quarter, St. Ignace held on to the ball for more than a minute and a half before eventually turning it over. The strategy kept them from scoring much, but it did the same to Newberry, providing few transition opportunities and offensive possessions. The Saints offense scored just three points, a three-pointer by Jordan Belleville, while the Indians scored four. St. Ignace went into the locker room with a 22-12 lead.

Newberry stayed in the zone to start the third quarter and St. Ignace did a good job of taking care of the ball. The teams traded baskets, with St. Ignace unable to extend the lead, while Newberry was unable to cut into the lead. An 11-9 advantage for the Saints in the third quarter gave them a 33-21 lead entering the final period.

The intensity picked up in the fourth quarter as Newberry went back to man-to-man defense and tried to be more aggressive with the Saints’ ball handlers. The Indians scored a quick five points to cut the lead to seven and to get their fans back in to the game. Coveyou stayed aggressive and made two big baskets to momentarily stop Newberry’s momentum. After the Saints got the lead back to 11 points, the Indians went on an 8-0 run, highlighted by two three-pointers and a runner in the lane. A time out stopped play with St. Ignace holding on to a slim three-point lead, 39-36. The final minutes saw both teams struggle to execute. The Saints missed the front end of two one-and-one free throw opportunities, but Newberry was unable to corral the rebounds, allowing St. Ignace to retain possession. The Saints held a 41-38 lead with eight seconds left and junior Keshia Davis heading to the free throw line. St. Ignace was only 6-15 from the line for the game, but Davis stepped up and made two when the team needed them the most, putting the game out of reach. A last-second shot attempt by Newberry fell short, and the Lady Saints escaped with the 43-38 victory.

Saints Coach Dorene Ingalls was happy with the win, but knows they need to play better moving forward.

“This was a great win and Newberry is a tough team, but we’ve got work to do,” she said. “We need to work on our defensive positioning and we’ve got to be able to knock down more free throws.”

Emily Coveyou led all players with 18 points (8/12 field goals), also adding seven rebounds. Taylor Bryant led the Indians with 15.

Newberry ends their season with a 13-9 record, with three of those losses coming to St. Ignace. The Saints improve their record to 20-2 and will face Iron River West Iron County in the first round of regional competition Tuesday, March 7, 6 p.m. at Marquette. If the Saints advance, the regional championship will be on Thursday, March 9, at 6 p.m.

Saints statistics: Emily Coveyou, 18 points, seven rebounds. Linnie Gustafson, eight points, eight rebounds, four assists. Jordan Belleville, six points. Keshia Davis, six points, six rebounds, two blocks. Madison Olsen, three points. Tasheka Battick, two points. Jade Edelman, four assists, four rebounds, four steals.

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