Kyle Beebe had the basketball in his hands, which is typically the case in late-game situations for Ravenna’s basketball team.
With 30 seconds left in a tie game and a district title on the line Friday night, the senior guard didn’t even know what move he was going to make. He had just one thing on his mind: Winning.
With a step-back at the top of the key, Beebe created more than enough space to put up a shot against his Montabella defender. His 3-pointer found the bottom of the net with 2.1 seconds left. The crowd erupted and a wild celebration among Bulldogs teammates and fans ensued.
“I was trying to think if, ‘I’m gonna drive, I’m gonna shoot.’ And then it started getting down there, so I just kind of went and it just kind of happened,” Beebe recalled the next morning. “I don’t even know why or why I did what move I did, it just kind of happened. … It was nuts.”
Beebe remained calm and composed the whole time, like a surgeon. He knew the game was not yet finished and he focused on defending Montabella’s last-second heave.
When the opponent’s shot missed the mark in Ravenna’s 56-53 triumph, students rushed the floor and mobbed the players. Beebe could finally celebrate the Bulldogs’ first district title in 20 years. It was an emotional scene inside the White Cloud High School gymnasium.
In a game where Ravenna trailed by 14 after one quarter against hot-shooting, 18-win Montabella, and by 12 at halftime, Beebe embraced his role of lead ’Dog. He knew his team needed him — there was no tomorrow, no time for a meltdown.
Beebe answered the call. He scored half of Ravenna’s third-quarter points, when the Bulldogs reeled off an 18-4 run to entirely wipe out their deficit and make it a brand-new game. The wiry but strong 6-foot-2, 175-pounder packed the stat sheet with 25 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three assists. Of course, that includes making the biggest shot of the night like he’s done oh, so many times.
“Jeez-o-Pete … he’s got the clutch gene. He proves it time and time again, and that comes in his preparation,” Ravenna coach Courtney Kemp said.
“If Kyle’s not hitting a winning shot, he’s hitting winning baskets to lead to the win. If you looked at it statistically, the points that Kyle has in the final two minutes, like his average point scoring in the final four to two minutes of the game, is probably off the charts. He just commands the ball, commands the team.”
Prior to Friday night’s heroics, Beebe’s most memorable play was his banked-in, 30-footer at the buzzer in overtime to lead Ravenna to a 64-62 victory at Montague last season.
Beebe’s timely jumper against Montabella secured Ravenna (15-6) a spot in Monday’s 5:30 p.m. Division 3 regional semifinal against West Michigan Conference rival North Muskegon (15-8) at Carson City-Crystal High School. A little over a month ago, “Big Shot Beebe” hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch in the Bulldogs’ 58-53 victory on the Norsemen’s home court.
Ravenna and North Muskegon are very familiar foes. This will be the 18th meeting between the two programs in six seasons, and it will mark the sixth straight year that one team will have ended the other’s season in the state tournament.
The Norse hold an 11-6 advantage during this stretch and have won four of the previous five state tourney matchups against the Bulldogs.
“We just want to keep winning,” said Beebe, whose team has split with the Norsemen this season. “We know North Muskegon, we know what they do, we’ve played them twice. North Muskegon’s probably the team I’ve played the most in high school. … We know what both teams are going to do, it’s just about who’s going to come to play.”
That’s the expectation with Beebe every time out: He’ll be ready to compete and he’ll do everything that is asked.
More of a pure wing, he often mans the point guard position because his poise and ability to facilitate are what Ravenna needs.
The two-time, first-team all-conference performer is averaging 16 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.1 steals this season. Last season, he produced 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per contest.
Beebe is the quintessential, multi-sport standout that you’ll often find in a small school. In football, he was the starting quarterback, defensive back and punter.
Beebe is a bit of a throwback. Wearing jersey No. 5 in both sports, he’s been fashioning a varsity jacket as well as a “Fear the Dogs” sweatshirt, which harkens back to Ravenna’s football heyday in the 1990s.
Upon graduation, the 3.0 student and 17-year-old son of Brian Beebe and Krystal Ritz Hitsman intends on studying sports management or education at Grand Valley State University.
An intense competitor, there have been occasions this season where Beebe’s emotions have gotten the best of him. But he’s learned to keep his composure and be the leader his team needs.
Beebe’s legacy at Ravenna will be that of a winner, although as Kemp points out, that story is not yet complete.
“I think where he’s at already, his legacy is etched in some of the best players to come through Ravenna basketball,” Kemp said. “Kyle will be the first to tell you, ‘It’s a nice regular season. This is just a district, there’s more to come.’ But what Kyle has done for the program, kind of spawning off what some guys had done for the program in the previous years (including 20-0 regular season in 2019-20), Kyle has taken it to the next level.
“That was a great team effort in every sense of the way (Friday at White Cloud), but to get over the hump, you need something special and Kyle did that for us in the second half, specifically the final shot of the game.”
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