Lady Eagles bounced from districts

March 8, 2018

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Class ‘D’ district tournament host Marion couldn’t use the home court to its advantage on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The Lady Eagles, hosting McBain Northern Michigan Christian in its post-season opener, was held scoreless through the first quarter en route to its 55-25 season-ending loss.

“Overall, I was pleased with our performance,” Marion head coach Matt LaGrow said. “I thought we did a nice job rebounding on the defensive end and limiting second chance points for NMC. We must get better at limiting our turnovers though, which will be at the top of the list of things to work on this off-season.”

After falling in a 9-0 hole after the first quarter, the Lady Eagles stayed behind 22-10 at half-time and 37-15 entering the fourth quarter.

“NMC has a really good team and we have a tough time matching up, but our kids battled the entire night,” LaGrow said. “We are excited for next year and we will have several kids that played quality minutes returning for next year. Our only senior, Lana Hall will be missed next season. She brought a toughness to our team, never shying away from contact and of course her unique personality will be missed as well.”

Leading the Eagles in the setback was Isabell Bontekoe with nine points and five rebounds, Aspen LaGrow had five points, Lexi Salisbury and Chloe Philo had four points apiece with Philo also grabbing five rebounds. Katlin Booms also had a good game on the glass, hauling in five boards.

Marion finishes the season 4-15. Despite the unfavorable record, the coach saw a lot of good considering the program’s numbers.

“We planned to have a junior varsity and a varsity team this year, and thought both would see some success, but right off the bat things got a little crazy,” LaGrow said. “Several kids, expected to participate ended up not going out for basketball, so we ended up having to abandon the JV team altogether and played most games with six-to-eight kids and went through long stretches where we were practicing with four or five kids due to injury and sickness. These challenges forced us to play certain players that might have been better off developing at the JV level.”

The Eagles didn’t back down from their challenges on the court however.

“The entire team stepped up, came together, stayed close and got better,” LaGrow said. “The kids took advantage of the extended minutes and were able to get that game experience that is crucial to development. Several individuals got a lot better as the season went along and I could not be more proud of this team for their commitment to their team and their school. We did not win a game last year but this year we were able to squeak out four.”

Marion, longtime members of the Highland Conference played this winter as an independent and expects to be full-fledged members of the West Michigan D League next year.

“I am exciting to be moving into that league and the challenges that come along with it,” LaGrow said. “We were able to play a few teams this year and gain a little familiarity with the conference. We know we have a lot of work to do heading into next season.”

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