Counting down the 10 best games of the sports year

BIG RAPIDS — Having a chance to reflect on another year of sports, the Pioneer is taking a look at the 10 best games of the past year.

Buzzer beaters, overtime thrillers and late game comebacks will all be featured today and Saturday. We begin with moments 10 through 6:

No. 6 — Big Rapids vs. Grant, girls basketball

It didn’t look good for the Cardinals.

Big Rapids trailed by 11 points with seven minutes remaining against Grant in the district semifinal. But the Cardinals used their full-court press to perfection and slowly got back into the game, so much so they would win 64-61 and eventually win the district championship against Reed City two nights later.

“We didn’t play our best basketball, but I thought our kids were gutsy,” Big Rapids coach Dawn Thompson said.

No. 7 — High school girls basketball: Morley Stanwood vs. Hemlock

Folks around here aren’t used to seeing many Morley Stanwood girls baksetball games go down to the wire.

The Mohawks were dominant once again this season, going undefeated during the regular season. During the regional final at Tri County High School, however, they ran into a team who simply shot the lights out.

Morley Stanwood led by six points with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter behind the play of Bailey Cairnduff, who scored 26 points, until Hemlock went on a 6-0 run, led by Peyton Apsey, who scored two buckets during the stretch leading Hemlock to a 62-57 win.

No. 8 Crossroads Charter Academy, track

With athletes in only four events, it is almost impossible to win a team title in track and field. Crossroads Charter Academy, however, pulled it off this past spring.

The meet came down to the 1600 relay with the Cougars taking first and Albion placing second. In fact, CCA won each of the four events they were entered and took a second in one of those events.

When it was all said and tallied, Crossroads and Albion tied for the Division 4 state championship at Jenison High School with 48 points.

No. 9 — College basketball: Ferris State vs. Indiana

Some Division II basketball programs might be intimidated walking into Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. Not the Bulldogs.

Before Ferris State would provide endless thrills during a regular season that saw the Bulldogs capture the GLIAC North title, they nearly upset one of the most storied programs in the NCAA.

The Bulldogs gave the Indiana Hoosiers all they could handle, leading by as many as 13 points in the game with 7:30 left. The lead remained at 10 points with three minutes to go in the contest before the Hoosiers rallied for a 78-65 overtime exhibition win before a crowd of 14,298.

Ferris forward Jerrell Sanders hit what appeared to be the game-winning shot in regulation, only to have the basket waived off. Replays show Sanders did, in fact, release the ball before time expired.

No. 10 — High school baseball: Big Rapids vs. Reed City

Pitcher’s duel.

That’s about all you can say when describing the performances of Big Rapids’ Aaron Jensen and Reed City’s Evan Stieg. An early season rivalry played in 40 mph winds doesn’t typically lend itself to great hitting performances, and this game was no different.

Stieg struck out nine batters, while Jensen finished as the hard luck loser, striking out 15 batters while allowing just three hits. Michael Minear was one of the only hitters to have success, doubling in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to win it.

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