Indians shake off shaky start to earn win over Blackhawks
Saugatuck senior Melody Antel never got the chance to see Wes Leonard play on the hardwood when he starred for Fennville from 2008 to 2011.
But she knows all about his legacy, having taken part in the Never Forgotten Game against Fennville the last several years.
“Every year before we play this game, we watch a video of Wes and really look at the overall picture of all this,” said Stannis, referring to the seventh-annual Never Forgotten Game played at Hope College’s DeVos Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 19. “It’s such a beautiful experience.”
Antel and her teammates did their best to play in such a way to do justice to Leonard’s memory.
Falling behind 12-2 at the start of the game and still trailing by seven points at halftime, the Indians used a 16-0 second-half run to serve as the catalyst for a 55-40 comeback victory over the Blackhawks.
The win was the fourth in a row for Saugatuck, which evened its overall mark at 5-5 and moved to 3-2 in the SAC Lakeshore.
“I think the moment got to us a bit at the start of the game,” Saugatuck coach Kevin Tringali said. “Once we got it down to eight at halftime, I felt a lot better about it. That is a testament to our girls’ composure. At the start of the season if we’d been down eight, I don’t know if we would have come back from it. But we’re playing so much better now.”
Leading 22-15 at halftime, Fennville pushed its lead to 24-15 before Saugatuck used a 16-7 run that culminated with a Karrisa Moerler basket to knot the score at 31-31.
Back-to-back baskets from Coryne Howard put Fennville back up 35-31, but back came the Indians with five straight points to end the quarter. The final two of those points came on a basket from Maddie Moore to give Saugatuck its first lead at 36-35.
“We played much better in the second half,” said Moore, who finished with a game-best 18 points after being held to four in the first half. “We were hustling a lot more and just got our stuff together.”
Saugatuck carried that momentum into the fourth quarter, scoring the first 11 points to cap a 16-0 run that saw them go ahead 47-35.
That run included 3-pointers from Antel and Melissa Goodell.
“We were a lot quicker in the second half,” Antel said. “We were constantly moving.”
Tringali echoed those sentiments.
“We were much more active in the second half and I think that kind of wore (Fennville) down,” he said. “I think it was a little bit of attrition and we were able to take advantage.”
Erin Stannis joined Moore in double figures for Saugatuck with 13 points. Antel finished with seven points, with Moerler and Claire Stannis going for six each.
“We attacked the basket really well in the first half, but in the second it was almost like we didn’t know what to do being ahead,” Fennville coach Chip Nightingale said. “We struggled going to the basket, playing to keep the lead instead of to keep going.”
Howard and Josie Galiger scored nine points each to lead Fennville, which also got six points each from Laraway and Danielle Davis.