Three teams, one goal

Big Rapids, CCA and Pine River vie for district crown

BIG RAPIDS — A solid start.

That is what Big Rapids girls basketball coach Jessica Haist is looking for in her team as it prepares for the Class B district final against Clare.

Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Reed City High School.

Also vying for district crowns are the Crossroads Charter Academy, which faces Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart at McBain Northern Michigan for the Class D title and Pine River, which takes on McBain for the third time this season in the Class C final at Pine River High School.

Big Rapids has not had the start Haist has been looking for in the opening two games of the tournament — Monday against Chippewa Hills and Wednesday against Farwell.

“We need to all show up,” Haist said. “It seems like portions of our players showed up Monday night and the other half showed up (Wednesday). If we can put it all together, our chances of being successful will go up.”

The Cardinals have been able to pull out the victories using a full court press that rattled both the Warriors and Eagles.

Though that might be enough to get past the Pioneers tonight, Big Rapids’ Kasey Woodworth understands that a strong start will be the key to victory.

“We definitely have to come out stronger and just work on being strong throoughout the whole game,” she said.

Clare is paced by all-state junior Lindsay Winter, who tallied 19 points against Reed City in the district semifinal. But the Cardinals have their own weapons that Pioneers coach Matt Rodenbo knows he has to key on.

“Big Rapids has had a tremendous year to this point,” Rodenbo said. “They’ve got a great player in (Kendra) Enszer, who is having a tremendous tournament. We’re going to have to defend her and make sure we do a good job of boxing her out — that’s going to be a big key for us, no question.”

With Enszer and Winter being a key focus to each team, Haist still believes a strong start is going to be the biggest issue between gaining a win tonight.

“We’ve just got to have confidence in ourselves and in each other,” Haist said. “When something goes wrong, it goes wrong, but we’ve got to get after it from the start.”

Getting after it from the start is the same message Crossroads Charter Academy coach JJ Eads will have with his team.

The Cougars, who set a school record for victories in a season with 20 Wednesday after a win over Marion, now face Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart — one of the top teams in Class D. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. at McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

It is the sixth time in the past seven years Crossroads Charter Academy has reached the district final.

“We have to play with no fear,” Eads said. “We have to go out and let it fly and hopefully hit some shots. It’s a great challenge, playing a state power every year.”

The Fighting Irish have earned a top-10 ranking behind the solid play from sister duo of Erica and Sarah Hansen, as well as Riley Terwilliger.

Crossroads Charter Academy will try to counter that balance with speed and quickness and try to get up and down the floor.

“They are balanced inside and out,” Eads said.

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