Trojans prevail over Marshall in regional semis
In her first three years as a member of the Plainwell varsity girls’ basketball team, senior Sarah Morrell never got the chance to play in a regional game as the Trojans failed to advance past districts all three years.
She finally got that first chance when Plainwell—which defeated Paw Paw in a district title game—took on Marshall in a Class B semifinal on Tuesday, March 10.
And given how long she had to wait, Morrell figured she might as well everything in her power to make sure it wasn’t her only regional game.
Morrell scored 13 of her team’s 15 fourth-quarter points to help hold off Marshall and give Plainwell the 37-35 victory.
“I knew we weren’t going to lose this game,” said Morrell, who finished with a game-best 20 points. “All of our starters are seniors except one and we didn’t want this to be our last game. We knew we had to step up and do whatever it took to win.”
Plainwell coach Tim Rieman wasn’t surprised to see Morrell shine at crunch time.
“I can’t tell you what a gutsy kid Sarah is,” said Rieman, whose team is scheduled to play either Benton Harbor or Sturgis in the regional final at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, in Hopkins. “She wants the ball in her hand when the game’s on the line. She’s not afraid.
“She’s our leader on and off the court and the other girls look up to her. She’s just so positive and really makes all the girls around her better.”
The win continued what has been a storybook season for Plainwell, which remained unbeaten at 23-0. That win total gives the Trojans a new school record, breaking the mark set by the 1984 squad that went 22-1.
The victory in a regional contest was also the first for Plainwell since the 1980 team that, ironically, lost to Marshall in the regional finals.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying this ride and the way the girls are playing,” said Rieman, who was making the first regional appearance of his coaching career after snapping a 0-10 record in district finals. “These girls are so much fun to be around and they’ve stuck together so well all season. I’m having a blast.”
While it was Morrell’s offense that helped seal the win for Plainwell, it was a stingy defensive effort that got the Trojans rolling.
Plainwell limited Marshall (22-2) to eight points in the first half—including just two in the second quarter—to take an 18-8 halftime lead.
“Our defense really gets us going,” Morrell said. “It’s just a matter of applying pressure everywhere. No matter where the ball is, that’s where we are. It’s all about energy and intensity.”
For full story, pick up a copy of the March 12 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.