Nothing like a rivalry game to get the juices flowing. And a Sturgis boys basketball team in need of a little juice got that boost Friday with the return of sophomore point guard Thomas Kurowski — the missing piece of a capable Trojan offense that’s been inconsistent at times in his absence.
Sturgis put it all together in a key Wolverine Conference game at home, beating Three Rivers 70-63.
Drew Murphy steadily led Sturgis throughout the game, finishing with 21 points, while Logan Wiard scored 10 of his 18 in the second half. Kurowski, who has had to sit out while recovering from an offseason knee procedure, knocked down four 3-pointers in the second quarter en route to 16 points and seven assists. The Trojans outscored Three Rivers 23-17 in that period to make it a 35-35 game at halftime. Zach Chapman, who missed the last game with an injury, added 12 points as the fourth man in double figures, and Joe Wynes connected on a 3-pointer.
“It really was a well played high school basketball game tonight between two good teams,” Sturgis coach Keith Kurowski said. “First half was a back and forth battle. Thomas came off the bench tonight and it was his first time playing in two months. He really gave us a spark off the bench as he helped turn what was a nine-point deficit in the first half into a 35-35 tie.
“And it just wasn’t about Thomas though; we really got contributions and good balance from many players tonight as we put four in double figures. Drew Murphy was solid and and Logan Wiard played one of his best games of the year on a number of very athletic plays to the basket. Zach Chapman scored 12 and played like a warrior coming off a sprained ankle and Treyton Wallick gave us solid minutes at the point, making good decisions with the ball and playing solid defense.”
It helped that Sturgis took care of the ball with a season-low six turnovers, getting more shot attempts than usual in what turned out to be a season-high for total points.
“Thomas really completes our team, and besides the point production he provided, he just facilitated and just helped everyone play more confidently out there tonight. “You could just see it in how the guys play now that he’s back in the fold. As his coach and father, I was just really happy to see Thomas out there on the floor; it’s been a long and difficult two months and he has worked very hard to get back after his knee surgery, and hopefully this is a little bit of a turning point game for our team and season going forward.
“I would also like to give Brian Burg and Three Rivers a ton of credit as they played really hard and competed from the opening tip until the final buzzer.”
Parker Ellifritz led the Wildcats with 14 points after connecting on four triples, Brendan Brown finished with 11, and Jalen Heivilin flirted with a triple-double, registering nine points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Three Rivers shot 45 percent from the field.
Video by Mat Stutzman
Three Rivers 16 19 17 11 — 63
Sturgis 12 23 22 13 — 70
Parker Ellifritz – 14 points
Nolan Marks – 4 points
Carter Minger – 2 points
Jalen Heivilin – 9 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds
Ben Wilcox – 3 points, 4 rebounds
Bryce Morlan – 14 points, 6 rebounds
Gavin Charvat – 6 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds
Brendan Brown – 11 points
Drew Murphy – 21 points
Logan Wiard – 18 points
Thomas Kurowski – 16 points
Zach Chapman – 12 points
Joe Wynes – 3 points