Top games of the year

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

Buzzer beaters, overtime thrillers and late game comebacks have been featured on Friday. We conclude our list with the best of the best: the top five games of the year.

5. Big Rapids vs. Reed City, boys basketball

BIG GAME: The Big Rapids-Reed City boys basketball game in the district semifinal was one of the top games in the school year. (Pioneer file photo)

Between what might be the area’s two most bitter rivals — Big Rapids and Reed City — the district semifinal contest at Grant Middle School was a classic, but not in the traditional sense.

Both teams were offensively challenged throughout the game, missing an array of jump shots, 3-pointers and even lay-ups. In the end, it was the Coyotes that seized the opportunity to move to the district final, topping the Cardinals 47-40 in overtime.

Trailing 37-33 with six minutes remaining, Reed City was able to even the score up at 40-40 with two minutes remaining before sending the game into overtime. The Coyotes would hold Big Rapids scoreless in overtime to bring home the win.

Reed City coach Jesse Kailing credited slowing the game down as a key to pulling off the upset after losing twice to the CSAA champs during the regular season.

BUZZER-BEATER: The Reed City-Chippewa Hills boys basketball game was picked as the fourth best game in the school year. (Pioneer file photo)

“I thought we were able to control the pace of the game,” he said. “Normally we want to play fast, but we knew we wouldn’t be able to run with them. We took a gamble hoping they wouldn’t hit their outside shots and it paid off.”

4. Reed City vs. Chippewa Hills, boys basketball

Players want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line. Damon Shaw is one of those players.

The Chippewa Hills senior took a shot near halfcourt and found the bottom of the net to lift the Warriors to a 48-46 overtime victory over Reed City at Chippewa Hills. It was his first 3-pointer since the first quarter.

“I just dribbled and didn’t see anyone open so I shot the ball,” Shaw said. “I practice that shot all the time. When we have a break in practice, I just shoot it.”

3. Ferris State vs. Western Michigan, hockey

After Ferris State and Western Michigan split a pair of 3-1 contests in a best-of-three series that would send one team home and the other to Joe Louis Arena, the third and final game of the series could only be described as maddening.

Western Michigan would lead by three goals on two different occasions, and saw the Bulldogs rally to tie the game at 4-4, sending the game into overtime.

OVERTIME THRILLER: Ferris State hockey fell to Western Michigan in overtime in Game 3 of their first round series. The game was picked as the third best game of the season. (Pioneer file photo)

The comeback wasn’t enough, however, as Western Michigan’s Max Campbell scored with 11:37 remaining in overtime to give his team a 5-4 win.

Despite the loss, Ferris State coach Bob Daniels was proud of the fight the Bulldogs displayed in his team’s most topsy turvy game of the season.

“What a game of emotions,” he said. “We were really back on our heels after falling behind. I take a lot of pleasure and pride in how hard our players kept going after it.”

2. Ferris State vs. Grand Valley State (131 Showdown), men’s basketball

The first Ferris State vs. Grand Valley State 131 Showdown at Van Andel Arena received plenty of hype heading into a game, with first place on the line. It met expectations in every way possible.

In a season that saw Ferris State win and lose countless matchups at the buzzer against top-notch teams en route to a conference title, this one was the best. The late game heroics were provided by Bulldogs guard Dontae Molden, who grabbed an offensive putback with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

131 SHOWDOWN: The Ferris State men's basketball team rallied to send the game into overtime where it beat Grand Valley in the 131 Showdown at Van Andel Arena. The game was picked as the second best game of the year. (Pioneer file photo)

Molden’s putback was the most memorable moment in an evening full of them. The game had 17 lead changes, with Grand Valley taking a 67-65 advantage after GVSU’s Nick Carreri completed a 3-point play with 9.7 second in regulation.

Ferris State coach Bill Sall said the dramatic buzzer-beater wasn’t how he envisioned sending the game into overtime.

“It wasn’t anything I drew up,” he joked.

1. Morley Stanwood vs. Menominee, football

The Mohawks’ game against Menominee might not go down as the best game of the 2010-2011 school year, but as one of the best ever.

Morley Stanwood led Menominee 27-19 late in the fourth quarter of their Division 5 regional final football contest at Morley Stanwood. The Maroons came back and tied it in regulation at 27-27.

BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS: Andrew Peaock is bloodied in the first quarter of the Division 5 regional final football contest against Menominee at Morley Stanwood High School. The Maroons won 41-40 in double overtime and was picked as the best game of the season. (Pioneer file photo)

Both teams scored in the first overtime as well as the second overtime, the difference being Morley Stanwood missed its extra points, while Menominee hit its point after touchdown kick to pull out a 41-40 double overtime win.

Tyler Havens led the rushing attack for Morley Stanwood with 162 yards and three touchdowns, while Menominee’s Keefer Conery recorded 132 yards on the ground and a score. The game was so even, both teams accumulated 376 yards of offense.

“There are so many things in the game, you can’t go back and pinpoint one thing,” Morley Stanwood coach Clark Huntey said about the difference in the contest. “Just in the fourth quarter, there were probably a half dozen plays that if we make, we win the game.”

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