Wayland surges past Fennville to claim district championship
Scoring isn’t usually a problem for the Wayland boys’ basketball team, as evidenced by the Wildcats’ point totals against Hopkins (82) and Allegan (88) in the first two rounds of district play.
That’s what made the first half of Wayland’s Class B district title game against Fennville on Friday, March 10, so unusual.
The Wildcats couldn’t seem to find a rhythm and went to halftime with 26 points, marking a new season low.
Fortunately for Wildcat coach Mike Hudson and his squad, the team’s defense did its part to pick up the slack.
Wayland limited Fennville to seven points in each of the first two quarters, buying the offense enough time to regroup and come out with a strong second half en route to the 66-46 win.
The district championship is the first for the Wildcats in three years after suffering season-ending district losses to Godwin Heights the past two seasons.
Fennville coach Joe Rodriguez knew taking on ninth-ranked Wayland–particularly on its home court—would be the biggest challenge his team has ever faced.
“We knew going in that this would be the toughest team we have faced this season and maybe in my entire 5 years here at Fennville,” he said. “They do a lot of things really well, which makes it tough to gameplan.
“They do a great job of mixing up the press and disguising their defenses after you break their press. Offensively, they have one of the best inside/outside combos in the state and they complement them with some other nice pieces.”
Mitchell Dykstra did his part to keep Wayland in the game during the early going, scoring 13 points in the first half.
Then it was time for Avery Hudson to heat up.
The sharp-shooting senior guard knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to open the third quarter as part of a 12-2 run for the Wildcats that upped their lead to 38-16.
Fennville never got closer than 16 points the rest of the way.
“We kept it close in the first half with our defense only allowing nine points in the second quarter, but our shots were just not falling on the other end,” Rodriguez said. “I thought we had a lot of really good looks, but we just couldn’t string together enough makes to go on a run.”
Avery Hudson finished with a game-best 27 points, followed by Dykstra with 21. Zack Nieuwkoop chipped in with 10 points to give Wayland (20-3) a third double-digit scorer.
For Fennville (16-4), J.P. Alfaro led the way with 14 points, followed by Austin Lewis with 11. Julian Martinez-Grigg added seven points.
“I wanted the guys to attack more and not settle for the three ball, but it was obvious that their size and length were preventing us from being aggressive,” Rodriguez said. “I give my guys credit for continuing to battle all game, but tonight we were just outmatched.”
Wayland advanced to the final thanks to its 88-24 win over Allegan in the district semis.
The Wildcats led 31-6 after one quarter and never wavered.
Avery Hudson paced Wayland with 29 points, all of which were scored in the first half.
Jack Sturman went for 10 points and two steals to lead Allegan (2-19), while Caleb DeKryger added five points and three blocks.