It was a state tournament level game and atmosphere Friday evening at the Harve Freeman Gymnasium in Kalamazoo as the Hackett Catholic Irish edged the Schoolcraft Eagles 57-54. It was a big win for Hackett against a SAC Valley division rival and potential regional postseason opponent. It also keeps the Irish perfect so far, pushing them to 7-0.
The Eagles led the entire first quarter, although never by more than six points. Schoolcraft took a 12-8 lead into the first break. The second quarter saw three lead changes. Midway through the second, the Irish led 18-14 and at halftime, they remained up by four, 26-22. The third quarter saw three more lead changes with Hackett up 40-36 by the end.
The Irish never surrendered the lead in the fourth quarter, but never were up by more than eight points. Hackett found themselves in the double bonus for much of the quarter, but only mustered a 13-25 effort in the game at the foul line, keeping the door open. Big three-pointers down the stretch by Kobe Clark kept the Eagles within striking distance.
With 24 seconds remaining down by four, Schoolcraft’s Bryce VanderWiere earned a shooting foul. He made the first, but missed the second, with Hackett’s Heath Baldwin grabbing the rebound. Baldwin missed both free throws and Trenton Lomason got the board for the Eagles. They elected to drain the clock down and go for the game-tying three. However, Clark had the ball knocked away from him into the back court in the final five seconds. Lomason recovered the ball, but only had time for a half court shot that fell short.
Cooper Smith topped Hackett, hitting his per-game average with 18 points, 12 coming in the second half. Clark led Schoolcraft with 16, including four three-pointers.
“We didn’t shoot real well, missed a lot of easy ones around the basket, especially in the third quarter,” noted Hackett head coach Mark Haase. “But I thought our defense was pretty good all night. It’s always good when you don’t play great offensively and you’re still able to win, especially against a really good team.”
Schoolcraft drops to 2-3 with the defeat and 2-2 in SAC Valley play. The Eagles travel to Berrien Springs Tuesday, then host Valley foe Galesburg-Augusta Friday. Hackett moves to 7-0 and 4-0 within the SAC Valley. They play a non-league foe at Comstock Tuesday, then head to Kalamazoo Christian Friday in a game that can be heard via JoeInsider.
“They do a good job of playing to their strengths,” said Haase of the Comets. “They’ve got some pretty good shooters, but they’ve got the added bonus of a really good post kid. (Jordan) Katje’s really good, he’s the best post player in our league. Hopefully we’ll play well.”
HACKETT SCORING: Cooper Smith 18, Heath Baldwin 10, Jacob Niesen 9, Aidan Gillig 7, Eric Wenzel 5, Brennan Creek 4, Casey Gallagher 2, Andrew Widger 2
SCHOOLCRAFT SCORING: Kobe Clark 16, Riley Piper 12, Trenton Lomason 9, Jakob Huysken 8, Brice Walther 6, Bryce VanderWiere 3.