Martin girls’ basketball coach Ben Schipper (back, far left) and his players show off their district championship trophy. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Clippers claim third straight district championship

By: 
Leo Martonosi

Ben Schipper feels like he’s one lucky coach. And for good reason.
“To win a district championship as a first-year (head varsity) coach is kind of surreal,” said Schipper after his girls’ basketball team from Martin dominated both ends of floor in their 47-18 decision over Zion Christian in a Division 4 district final on Friday, March 6.
With Faith Guritz, a four-year starter, leading the way from the opening toss, Martin breezed to its third consecutive district crown in the finals held at the relatively new home of longtime Class D power Tri-unity Christian.
Tri-Unity’s gym reminded Guritz of the Clippers’ home court.
“Like our new gym, this is very nice,” said Guritz, who dropped in 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to collect the double-double. The talented Guritz also blocked five shots.
Schipper, a 2012 Martin graduate, couldn’t have been prouder of his team.
“This group gave me everything they had every game out,” he said. “As a coach, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Guritz has the talent to take her game to the next level.
“I will be somewhat surprised if she doesn’t,” Schipper said. “She has too much talent to not play in college.”
Being a part of three district-winning squads was extra exciting for Guritz.
“There are a lot of high school players out there who never even win one district championship, so to win three is extra sweet,” Guritz said.
Schipper admitted when he first got the Martin job that he and his players expected some big things on the court even though he was a first-year varsity coach.
“(Former Martin coach) Doug (McVean) left me with some great players,” Schipper said. “We both know that.”
The 21-1 Clippers are in a good position of moving on by hosting the regional semifinals on March 10 and the regional finals on March 12.
“It’s going to be fun to play at home and showcase our beautiful new facilities,” Guritz said.
The Clippers, who jumped out to a 13-2 first quarter lead against Zion Christian, know the games will only get more difficult with each passing round.
“Every game from here on out will get tougher and tougher,” Schipper said. “But that’s the way it should be when you get this far in the state tournament.”
Jaclyn Hildebrand followed Guritz in scoring with 10 points. Briana Warner and Freddie Elkins checked in with seven and six points respectively for Martin.
“We are a very deep team and have a lot of girls who are very capable of scoring some big numbers,” Schipper said.
Martin advanced to the district finals thanks to a 51-38 win over Tri-Unity Christian on Wednesday, March 4.
Guritz scored 13 points, followed by Hildebrand with 11, Gracie Shettler with nine and Bri Warner with seven.
The Clippers led 21-4 after one quarter, only the game on a 16-0 run. Tri-Unity narrowed the gap to 26-17 at halftime, but that’s as close as the game would get.
Martin went 9-of-14 at the line down the stretch to seal the win.
 

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