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WMC girls basketball: Montague surges past Comstock Park in head coach’s debut

Claire Meacham sparks Wildcats as Nick Thaler gets win in first game as a varsity coach.

Coach Nick Thaler of the Montague girls basketball team is photographed at the CatchMark Media Day on Nov. 24, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Cody Ottinger | CatchMark)

Montague’s girls basketball team used a big fourth quarter to rally past host Comstock Park and give Nick Thaler a victory in his head-coaching debut Tuesday night, 45-38.

The Wildcats (1-0) trailed 32-31 through three quarters but outscored the Panthers (0-1) by a 14-6 margin in the final frame of the nonleague battle.

Claire Meacham paced Montague with 18 points, followed by Kendall Osborne with 11 and Haylee Schwarz with 10.

Thaler said both teams played through some first-game jitters for most of the first half. The turning point for the Wildcats came during the third quarter, when they got a steal and converted into a basket and three-point play.

“That really changed the momentum for us in a grind-it-out, physical game,” Thaler said. “The real key for us was getting to the foul line. Being aggressive is something we preach within our offense and getting to the line 23 times in a ball game is helpful comparing it to Comstock Park’s five.”

Montague dominated Comstock Park on the boards as well, finishing with a 35-15 advantage on the glass.

Aliyah Durry led the Panthers with 12 points.

Thaler highlighted Meacham for her work in the paint and Osborne for getting the Wildcats organized. He called it a “great team win” in which everyone contributed, as everybody followed the game plan of attacking the basket.

“Comstock Park has been a great program for a while. Coach (Beth) Hull does a nice job with that program and they do things the right way. They are going to have a really nice season,” said Thaler, who previously served as head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant for the Grand Haven boys program.

“As for me, I was anxious and nervous the entire day. I have won a district championship as a player and as an assistant and I was way more nervous for this game than those. It’s all about the players. They sacrifice so much for us as coaches; yes, we give them the plan and how to attack, but for us as a program it’s, ‘Forget about me, I love you.’”

Montague opens West Michigan Conference play this Friday with a game at Oakridge.

Charley Klint of the Whitehall girls basketball team is photographed at the CatchMark Media Day on Nov. 24, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Cody Ottinger | CatchMark)

ALLENDALE 35, WHITEHALL 29: At Allendale, an inexperienced Whitehall team lost its season opener Tuesday night in nonleague action. The teams were tied at 13 at halftime. The Vikings trailed 25-23 after three quarters.

Whitehall leaders:

Charley Klint 7 points, 13 rebounds

Lola Buckner 6 points

Records:

Whitehall 0-1

Allendale 1-0

Next games:

Ravenna at Whitehall, 7 p.m. Friday

Allendale at Hopkins, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Kendall Zoulek of the Shelby girls basketball team is photographed at the CatchMark Media Day on Nov. 24, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Cody Ottinger | CatchMark)

NEWAYGO 47, SHELBY 26: At Newaygo, Shelby held a 10-4 lead after the first quarter but last year’s Division 2 runner-up picked it up in the final three quarters to cruise to the nonleague win Tuesday.

Shelby leaders:

Kendall Zoulek 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

Molli Schultz 5 points

Aubrey Klotz 5 points

Ella Olmstead 4 points, 5 rebounds

Lauren Brown 10 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal

Newaygo leaders:

Jaxi Long 24 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals

Emmerson Goodin 15 points, 9 rebounds

Records:

Shelby 0-1

Newaygo 1-0

Next games:

North Muskegon at Shelby, 7 p.m. Friday

Whitehall at Newaygo, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Anna Lundquist of the Oakridge girls basketball team is photographed at the CatchMark Media Day on Nov. 24, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Cody Ottinger | CatchMark)

SPARTA 41, OAKRIDGE 23: At Oakridge, Sparta used 13-2 and 14-7 scoring advantages in the first and third quarters, respectively, to pull away for the nonleague win in Tuesday’s season opener for both teams.

Oakridge leaders:

Anna Lundquist 11 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks

Destyni Lane 6 points

Records:

Oakridge 0-1

Sparta 1-0

Next games:

Montague at Oakridge, 7 p.m. Friday

Greenville at Sparta, 7 p.m. Friday

The Ravenna varsity girls basketball team is photographed at the CatchMark Sports Media Day on Nov. 24, 2021 (Kara Raeth | CatchMark)

COOPERSVILLE 31, RAVENNA 20: At Ravenna, the host Bulldogs fell into an 18-6 halftime hole and could not recover in a nonleague game against neighboring Coopersville to open the season Tuesday.

Ravenna leaders:

Alexis McMahon 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals

Emma Gillard 4 points, 7 rebounds

Kara Postema 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals

Hope Hulka 6 rebounds, 4 steals

Kendra Postema 5 rebounds, 2 steals

Coopersville leaders:

Johnson 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists

Sietsema 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block

Records:

Ravenna 0-1

Coopersville 1-0

Next games:

Ravenna at Whitehall, 7 p.m. Friday

Coopersville at Hastings, 7 p.m. Friday

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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