Onekama cruises past Walkerville

ONEKAMA — Buzzer-beating 3-pointers don’t find the bottom of the net often, and rarely fall twice in a game, but the Onekama girls basketball team might have a knack for them.

Emma Putney put an exclamation point on a 25-point lead with one at the mid-way buzzer for the Portagers. Not to be outdone, teammate Hailey Kott found the cylinder from five feet behind the line at the final buzzer to seal a 62-30 victory over the Walkerville Wildcats Tuesday night.

As uncannily good as the Portagers were at putting the ball in the basket, they were even better at keeping it out during the West Michigan D League contest.

Onekama’s Alyssan Clarke lofts a shot up in the lane Tuesday night during the Portagers’ West Michigan D League win over Walkerville. (Jared Buchholz/News Advocate)

Onekama’s Alyssan Clarke lofts a shot up in the lane Tuesday night during the Portagers’ West Michigan D League win over Walkerville. (Jared Buchholz/News Advocate)

“We wanted to set the tone defensively. We’ve struggled a little bit on the offensive end this year, but I told them that if we start playing defense — tight man defense — our offense will come. That’s exactly what happened tonight,” said Onekama coach Jim Armstrong. “We are going to play man, pick them up at half court and play defense.”

The Portagers (9-3, 8-2 WMD) did exactly that and the Wildcats (3-7, 2-6 WMD) found almost no room to breathe, converting just a lay up and a long two in the first quarter. The Portagers put the offense in the capable hands of Kaylor DeWitt in the opening frame and she responded with 10 of her game-high 19 points. She also grabbed eight rebounds, six offensive, and blocked two shots.

Hailey Kott hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter en route to 15 points, three assists and eight rebounds. Tawny Kott and Caitlin Zielinski added nine apiece, Putney scored six and Taylor Mallison and Alyssan Clarke netted two.

“I thought we ran the court better tonight,” Armstrong said. “I think what happened on our breaks is the kids ran the lane the right way and the kids took the ball right to the basket. … They sped to the basket and finished the job.”

With a 34-9 margin at the half, the Portagers got gummed up in foul trouble and the Wildcats tried to claw back in from the line in the third, converting seven of 10 shots and going on a 7-1 run. 

“Last year we built on the word intensity and I brought it back again tonight because we are not intense enough,” Armstrong said. “If they play hard and play with intensity, we can out work the other team.”

The Portagers found their groove again in the fourth and rattled home 19 points to put the game away for good.

The Portagers’ schedule, which was condensed by postponed games, will play eight games in the final three weeks of the season.

“In 23 days, we are going to play eight times, which is almost half the season. We can start building toward the tournament now,” Armstrong said. “I expect to win every game. I think the schedule is in our favor to do that.”

The junior varsity Portagers beat the Wildcats 62-40 and had four double-digit scorers. McKayla Haske netted a team-high 15 while Kassidy Ward, Grace Hughes and Michele Haske each added 10.

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