Fennville senior Ben Renkema (second from left) battles Otsego’s Zac Lucas (second from right) for control of the ball. (Photo by Gary Shook)

Fourth-quarter rally lifts Blackhawks past Otsego

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

The Fennville boys’ basketball team did a good job of containing Otsego leading scorer Bill Woodhams during the first three quarters of the Wednesday, March 8, contest.
The Bulldogs’ leading scorer entered the final quarter of the Class B district semifinal between the teams with 10 points as his team clung to a 36-34 lead.
Still, Blackhawk coach knew what kind of offensive damage Woodhams was capable of in a short time, having seen the Otsego senior score 18 points during the third quarter of an opening-round district game against Plainwell.
“Our focus was stopping Woodhams,” Fennville coach Joe Rodriguez said. “He’s an excellent scorer and he was coming off a big game against Plainwell. We knew if we could slow him down, then we would have a good chance to win.”
Fennville senior Ben Renkema did his best to accomplish just that, limiting Woodhams to two fourth-quarter points as the Blackhawks rallied for the 55-45 victory.
“Ben did an awesome job shadowing him every step he went and holding him to 12 points, with only two of those coming in the crucial fourth quarter,” Rodriguez said.
With Renkema leading the defensive charge, Julian Martinez-Grigg led the offensive attack for Fennville.
Martinez-Grigg went for a game-best 22 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer at the start of the final period.
Austin Lewis added 12 points for Fennville, with JP Alfaro going for 10 points and matching Martinez-Grigg for team-high honors with seven rebounds. Alfaro also led his team with four steals and three assists.
For Otsego, Woodhams and Zac Lucas each had 12 points, with Tyler Rayman adding 10. Jason Weber contributed five assists, four steals and four rebounds.
“The game didn’t end the way we were hoping, but it was a good game nonetheless,” first-year Otsego coach Matt Dennis said. “The bottom line was we had too many mental lapses that offered Fennville an opportunity to take the lead and then pull ahead enough to win the game.
“Our guys played hard and fought until the end. We just didn’t make the plays down the stretch to get the win and Fennville did.”
And while disappointed with the loss, Dennis also sees the bigger picture.
The Bulldogs finished 11-11 one season after post four wins.
“I have to say I’m happy with the progress we made over the year,” he said. “A team’s success is measured by how the guys come together and improve over the course of the year, along with whether or not they compete every time they step on the floor, not just by wins. I think we competed each night and improved as a team overall throughout the season.”

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