Grayling earns spot in district finals with wins at Kalkaska, Sault
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The game – a varsity boys basketball round one District 63-B playoff contest – was tied after one quarter, but the Vikings maintained a steady lead after an 11-0 run in the second period, and Grayling defeated the Kalkaska Blazers by a final score of 64-44 on Monday night. Kalkaska High School hosted the match.
After a back and forth first period, the contest was tied at 12-12.
Spencer White scored 11 of Grayling’s first 12 points.
The Blazers scored the first five points of the second quarter with a drive and a three-pointer (their third triple of the game). Kalkaska led 17-12.
Grayling scored 11 unanswered points to lead 23-17. The series included two baskets by Troy Summers, a drive by White, three free throws from White, and a jump shot by Trey Moffit.
Kalkaska scored on a lay-up and a drive. Summers scored for Grayling with an inside shot. Moffit hit a three-pointer in the final seconds of the second period.
At halftime, the score was Vikings 28, Blazers 21.
Summers scored on a put-back. Kalkaska scored. Summers converted on an inside shot. The Blazers scored on a drive.
White made one of two from the free throw line. Justin Nicholas hit a three-pointer for the Vikings at the 5:17 mark. At the 4:42 mark, Nicholas hit another triple for GHS. Kalkaska responded with a three-pointer. Grayling scored with a jump shot by Christian Artress. The Blazers hit another triple. White converted two free throw attempts. Kalkaska scored on a drive.
Going into the fourth period, Grayling led by 10, 43-33.
The Vikings scored four points with two inside shots by Summers. Kalkaska scored four with a jump shot and a drive to pull back within 10.
White scored on an inside shot. The Blazers hit a three-pointer at the 5:15 mark. White drove to the basket for two points. Kalkaska scored on a put-back. Artress drove to the basket for two. Summers made two free throws. The Blazers hit a jump shot. Artress made one of two from the free throw line at the 1:44 mark.
Grayling led 56-44.
Kalkaska fouled White to stop the clock and he made both free throws. Grayling got the ball back and the Blazers fouled Summers on a fast break lay-up attempt; Kalkaska was called for a flagrant foul on the play, giving Grayling two free throws and possession of the ball. Summers made one of the two free throws.
The Vikings got the ball to White and the Blazers fouled him to stop the clock; he made both free throw attempts.
Kalkaska shot from three-point range, missed, and Nick Hunter rebounded the ball for Grayling. The Blazers fouled Moffit, who made one of two from the line. White made a lay-up for Grayling in the final seconds.
The Vikings won by 20 points, 64-44.
“Give Kalkaska and Coach Manchester credit. They battled throughout this game and played hard the entire way,” Coach Rich Moffit said.
“Loved the mindset of our team in this game. When things did not go our way, our guys focused on the process and continued to play hard. We were down 17-12 in the second and went on a 16-4 run to end the half. In the third quarter, we established our running game and played much better defensively. We wanted to get to the rim and we were very aggressive offensively in the second half,” Coach Moffit said.
White finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, and two steals for Grayling. Summers had 18 points, 17 rebounds, and three steals.
“Spencer White was a beast, scoring 29 points and (doing) a very good job of attacking the basket. Troy Summers played solid in the post. Justin Nicholas hit two big threes in the third quarter. Trey and Christian played well defensively and hit some timely shots. Brent Weismiller, Sam Davis, and Nick Hunter played well defensively,” Coach Moffit said.
The victory improved Grayling’s overall record to 16-5 (10-4 league, 1-0 playoff), and it earned the Vikings a place in the District 63-B semifinals.
On Thursday, the Vikings played against the Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devils at Sault Ste. Marie in the District 63-B semifinal round. The contest came down to the final seconds, and Grayling won it 51-48.
The Blue Devils led 12-6 at the end of the first period. At halftime, the score was Sault Ste. Marie 21, Grayling 20. The Vikings trailed 37-31 going into the fourth quarter.
Grayling battled back and tied the contest at 48-48 late in regulation. The Vikings scored three points down the stretch with free throws from White and Artress and Grayling won 51-48.
“This was a great match-up for our team. The Sault had their main players back from a team that had advanced to the regional finals last year. They came in with a 17-3 record, which included wins over four Big North Conference teams in Petoskey, Gaylord, Alpena, and Traverse City Central. The Sault is led by 6’9” Brandon Paul, who is an outstanding player. Coach Fitzner is a former coach at LSSU and has done an outstanding job at Sault Ste. Marie. We knew it was going to be a battle,” Coach Moffit said.
“We struggled to score early in the game. We settled for low percentage shots and our guys were tight at both ends of the court. Even with our early struggles, our guys continued to stay focused on the process of playing hard and playing as a team,” Coach Moffit said.
“The Sault went on a 13-5 run late in the third and into the fourth quarter to take a 48-42 lead. Our backs were against the wall and our team responded in a big way. We went on a 9-0 run, which was highlighted by some pressure free throw shooting and outstanding defense,” Coach Moffit said.
Summers finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Vikings. White had 18 points.
“Spencer White and Troy Summers were outstanding in the game. They showed leadership on the floor and were outstanding in pressure situations. Nick Hunter played outstanding defense and made two pressure free throws during our late run. Buddha Artress played outstanding defense and hit a big free throw for us. Justin Nicholas showed a lot of heart, playing with a sprained ankle throughout the game. Trey Moffit did an outstanding job of distributing the basketball, leading our team with five assists. Brent Weismiller hit two huge shots in the third quarter to keep us within reach of the Sault. Sam Davis was really good defensively in this game,” Coach Moffit said.
The victory improved Grayling’s overall record to 17-5 (10-4 league, 2-0 playoff) and earned the Vikings a spot in the District 63-B championship game. The Sault game was originally slated for Wednesday night, but the contest was postponed to Thursday due to high winds and Mackinac Bridge delays.
“The support from our community at this game was outstanding,” Coach Moffit said.