Plainwell girls clinch divisional crown with win over Allegan
The Plainwell girls’ basketball team entered the season with three goals: 1. Win the Wolverine Conference North championship; 2. Win the overall league title; 3. Win a district championship.
The Trojans achieved the first of those three in Allegan on Friday, Feb. 7.
Thanks to its 52-21 victory over the host Tigers, Plainwell clinched the Wolverine Conference North crown by improving to 7-0 in divisional play with one divisional game remaining.
The Trojans upped their overall record to 11-3.
“This feels good,” Plainwell coach Tim Rieman said of the divisional title. “The girls deserve it. They’ve worked so hard for it.”
The work, though, is far from done.
“I told the girls to celebrate this and enjoy it this weekend,” Rieman said. “But come Monday, we’re getting back at it because we still have two more goals we want to achieve.”
Based on the first quarter, the game appeared destined to be a nip-and-tuck affair as Plainwell held a slim 13-11 advantage after a late flurry by the Tigers.
But a 14-3 run by Plainwell in the second quarter changed the complexion of the game, putting the Trojans up 27-14 at halftime.
Sophomore Lauren Vanderstelt spearheaded the charge for the Trojans, knocking down three 3-pointers as part of a game-best 22-point effort.
“Lauren was unbelievable,” Rieman said. “She’s playing with so much more confidence right now. It’s been really fun to see her develop.”
Rieman believes the return of senior point guard Alivia TerMeer—who missed the first five games of the season—has played a key role in Vanderstelt’s development.
“Having Liv back has been huge for the whole team, but especially for someone like Lauren,” Rieman said. “Liv finds the other girls and puts them in the best positions to be successful.”
TerMeer added nine points in the win, while classmate Rebecca Gibson had seven.
The second half saw Plainwell outscore Allegan 25-7, including a 17-0 margin in the final frame.
“Give Plainwell all the credit,” Allegan coach Josh Holman said. “They have a very experienced group that has played together for a long time and knows how to play the game. I thought we did a good job hanging with them in the first quarter, but we let things speed up on us a little bit after that.
“One of the things we’ve talked about all season is being present and focusing on the task at hand. We need to do a better job of being where our feet are.”
Holman was working on less-than-normal sleep after he and his wife welcomed their second child just two days earlier.
“Everyone’s healthy and doing well,” Holman said. “Sleep’s just a little harder to come by these days.”
Anna Allen led Allegan with eight points, while Alison Radke had six and Holly Curtiss had four. Alison Bishop, the Tigers’ leading scorer, was held to three points, all of which came in the first quarter.
“Bishop is a great player and she got us for 25 points the first time we played them,” Rieman said. “So we really harped on knowing where she was at all times and not letting her beat us. Our girls did a really nice job of that.”