Fennville’s Coryne Howard (left) feels the defensive pressure from Allegan’s Holly Curtiss. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Blackhawks prevail in back-and-forth contest with Tigers

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Christmas had already come and gone when the Fennville girls’ basketball team traveled to Allegan for a non-league showdown on Friday, Jan. 3.
But Blackhawk senior Coryne Howard and her teammates had one more present to give their fans.
With the game deadlocked at 33-33, Howard knocked down three free throws in the game’s waning seconds to lift Fennville to the 36-33 win.
“This was a big game for our girls, especially having had the last two weeks off because of Christmas break,” first-year Fennville coach Josh Weimer said. “Obviously having a player like Coryne is a blessing for any coach. She can just do so much to create shots and scoring opportunities for herself. I just wish she wasn’t a senior.”
The win is the fourth in a row for Fennville following a pair of losses to open the season.
“Being in this kind of game and finding a way to win is so important for our girls,” Weimer said. “We took a big step forward last season by winning nine games, but I don’t want the girls to think that’s good enough for them to settle. I want them to start believing we’re capable of much more than that.
“Winning games like this is huge in that process. It instills a lot of confidence in the girls. We have a lot of tough games coming up, so hopefully a game this will help us when we’re in close games later in the season.”
The game featured a matchup of two of Allegan County’s top offensive threats in Howard and Allegan senior Alison Bishop.
And while Howard was able to finish with a game-best 16 points, Bishop was largely held in check. She finished with six points as Fennville used a box-and-one defensive scheme on her.
Lilly Marquez helped spearhead the defensive effort against Bishop.
“Lilly did a great job on one of the top players in Allegan County,” Howard said.
Allegan coach Josh Holman also recognized the defensive prowess of Marquez and her teammates.
“Give (Fennville) credit,” Holman. “They had a nice game plan and executed it well. Alison’s having a great season for us, but she really had to work hard out there and wasn’t able to get the kind of looks she usually does.”
The teams went to the fourth quarter knotted at 24-24. A 7-1 run by Fennville to open the final frame—with the first three points coming from Howard—gave the Blackhawks their largest lead of the game at 31-26.
But Allegan responded, putting together an 8-2 spurt that was capped by a basket from Ana Allen and retied the game at 33-33.
“You’re young and we’re still learning what it means to play for solid quarters of basketball,” Holman said. “But we never quit. The girls kept playing hard and put themselves in a position to possibly get a win.”
That didn’t happen, however, as Howard split a pair of free throws with 33 seconds remaining to put Fennville up 34-33. Howard then knocked down two more freebies with one second left to seal the victory.
“A game like this comes down to one or two possessions,” Holman said. “That’s the lesson I hope we take from this. Every possession counts and we have to really value each opportunity we get.”
Jackie Jaimes added seven points for Fennville. Kaitlyn Fulton led Allegan with 11 points, followed by Holly Curtiss with eight.
 

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