Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
SHELBY — To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Hart’s girls basketball team gets the opportunity to beat one of the best and earn the right to be viewed as one of those premier programs.
Hart defeated Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian, 49-29, in a regional semifinal Tuesday at Shelby to earn a shot at Kent City in Thursday night’s Division 3 regional finals.
Against the Mustangs, defense led to offense for the Pirates, who trailed 9-8 after one quarter but used an 11-3 scoring advantage in the second quarter and put the regional semifinal victory away with a 16-6 fourth quarter.
Now, Hart (22-3) gets another opportunity against ninth-ranked Kent City (21-4), which has finished Division 3 state runner-up each of the last two seasons and cruised into the regional finals with a 66-32 win over Saugatuck Tuesday. The Pirates and Eagles square off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Shelby High School.
Hart is looking to get over the hump against Kent City and the stakes have never been higher. The Pirates are seeking their first-ever regional title.
Hart has squared off against Kent City in recent regular-season matchups, highlighted by tight games in the last two meetings. On Dec. 20 of this season, Hart led by five points entering the fourth quarter but host Kent City rallied for a 58-52 win. In 2021-22, Hart lost a tight one at home against Kent City, 42-39. In 2020-21, Hart fell at Kent City, 50-27.
In recent regional appearances, Hart and its loyal fans have had to travel a couple hours. But the Pirates caught a break this season as the regional is being hosted by nearby Shelby, a mere 10-minute drive.
Here are more details and notables from Hart’s regional win over NorthPointe Christian Tuesday:
- Hart junior Abby Hicks set the tone on both ends of the floor. She packed the stat sheet with a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and three assists.
- Hart sophomore Addi Hovey was a physical force, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
- Hart senior Aspen Boutell was a sparkplug with 11 points and five rebounds despite being less than 100 percent after suffering ankle and knee injuries in last Friday’s district finals win over Mason County Central.
- Hart senior Mariana VanAgtmael added five points and four rebounds.
- For NorthPointe Christian, slick junior guard Emma Bruwer scored a game-high 19 points.
- NorthPointe Christian, which played a competitive game against Kent City in a 45-37 loss on Dec. 28, finishes its season with a 17-8 record.
- CatchMark SportsNet will be presenting a free, live audio stream of Thursday’s regional final between Hart and Kent City. You’ll be able to find the stream on the CatchMark SportsNet YouTube channel.
Photos by Kiara Mikkelsen for CatchMark
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Hart girls basketball actually won the regionals in 1993. They were later defeated in quarterfinals.