Sam Nieuwkoop drives to the basket during Wayland’s game against Zeeland East as teammate Macey Winger looks on. Nieuwkoop scored a team-high 16 points in the losing cause. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Wildcats can’t sustain strong start in losing effort against Zeeland East

Jason Wesseldyk

The Wayland girls’ basketball team gave its fans plenty to cheer about in the early going of its game against Zeeland East on Thursday, Dec. 28.
Taking part in the Holiday Tournament at Cornerstone University’s Mol Arena, the Wildcats raced out to a 13-7 at the end of the opening quarter.
Each of the following three quarters got progressively worse, however.
Zeeland West outscored the Wildcats by five points in the second quarter, 10 points in the third quarter and 13 points in the fourth quarter to turn its early deficit into a 60-38 victory at Wayland’s expense.
Sophie Riemersma and Meg Morehouse did the bulk of the damage for Zeeland West, combining for 48 points on 17-of-24 shooting from the floor. That included a 9-of-12 effort from Riemersma, who also went 9-of-10 at the line and finished with 28 points.
Those big performances overshadowed a solid effort from Wayland’s Sam Nieuwkoop.
Making good on eight of her 10 shots from the field, Nieuwkoop finished with a team-best 17 points, making her the only Wildcat to reach double figures in the scoring column. She also led both teams with six rebounds, four steals and two blocks to go with three assists, which tied Sara VanDerWeide for team-high honors.
Stephanie Ainsworth added eight points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in the losing cause.
After the teams exchanged baskets to make the score 15-9 in the opening minutes of the second quarter, Zeeland East started to make its move.
The Chix finished the first half on a 9-4 scoring run that pulled them to within one point of Wayland’s lead at 19-18.
The second half was simply more of the same, as Zeeland East used a 17-7 edge in the third quarter to increase its lead to 35-26 before outscoring Wayland 25-12 in the final frame.
Wayland returned to Mol Arena for its second and final game in the tournament on Saturday, Dec. 30, as the Wildcats squared off with Forest Hills Central.
This time it was Wayland that fell behind early, trailing 15-8 after one quarter of play. And while the Wildcats outscored FHC the rest of the way, it wasn’t enough to overcome that early hole as they suffered the 50-44 setback.
Nieuwkoop again led the way offensively for Wayland, finishing with 16 points. Parrish Hudson nearly joined her in double figures with nine points, while Abby Merice added eight points.
Nieuwkoop also pulled down 10 rebounds for the double-double.
Madi Winter and Claire Baguley paced FHE with 26 and 19 points, respectively.
Wayland cut its deficit to 26-22 at halftime, but was outscored 12-9 in the third quarter to fall behind 38-31


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