Sports round-up 3.11.09


It didn’t matter to Hilltop’s varsity boys that they lost to Fayette twice during the regular season.

When sectional tournament play got underway last Wednesday at Bryan, the Cadets wiped the slate clean and put on a shooting show.

Fifty-nine percent from the floor, 43 percent for three-pointers—it’s not easy competing against those numbers, especially when your team is only hitting 32 percent.

Fayette (9-13) closed the gap early in the second half, but ended up with a season-ending loss, 61-46. It only lasted one night for Hilltop (9-13). The Cadets gave a weak showing Friday when they fell to Pettisville.

“Hilltop shot the ball extremely well,” Fayette coach Todd Mitchell said. “They were making shots they don’t normally make.”

The Eagles finished the first quarter with only four buckets and trailed 17-9.

“We turned the ball over on our first four possessions and fell behind 8-0,” Mitchell said. “We never got into the rhythm of the game.”

Austin Hylander sank a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter to spark Fayette’s offense and Hilltop took a 10-point lead into the locker room.

The Eagles made some defensive stops in the third quarter, made some buckets and cut the lead to four points. That didn’t last long.

“Every time we started to cut down their lead, we made a turnover,” Mitchell said. “We never could catch up.”

The Eagles turned the ball over 18 times, and it generally wasn’t due to Hilltop pressure. Instead, bad decisions led to loss of possession.

Fayette might have been bothered by weak shooting, but there was no lack of effort shown.

“They really worked hard,” Mitchell said. “We just couldn’t get anything to fall.”

Hylander had the best offensive showing with 15 points, including three buckets from outside the arc. He shot 46 percent from two-point range and 37 percent for threes.

Coty Griffiths added 10 points and collected nine rebounds. Tyler Keefer also finished with nine boards.

Trevor Cox shot three for five and finished with eight points to make an impressive varsity début, Coach Mitchell said.

MORENCI BOYS BASKETBALL: Three of the Tri-County Conference’s top scorers will converge on Sand Creek’s court tonight (Wednesday) when Morenci  (4-16) and Whiteford (15-6) meet in the Class C district semifinals.

The problem for the Bulldogs is that two of those scoring leaders are on the Bobcats’ team.

Jake DuPree, who averaged 18.7 points in TCC contests this season, scored 31 in Whiteford’s worrisome 58-57 win Monday over Sand Creek in the district opener. Teammate Brandon Albright— 18.6 points a game in the TCC—finished with 16.

The third member of the high-scoring trio is Morenci junior Clayton Wolf who also finished the league season averaging 18.7.

The Bulldogs’ chore is obvious for tonight’s clash.

“We know what we have to do,” coach Tim Bovee said. “We need to have complete focus, concentrate and make good decisions. We need to concentrate on the things we do well.”

Bovee has watched his team play very well at times this season and he’s also seen frustratingly weak showings.

Morenci was pounded by Whiteford in the first meeting this season, but played closer in the second match-up.

Sand Creek (6-17) showed that Whiteford can be vulnerable. The Bobcats missed some free throws late in the game to allow the Aggies to come back.

“We just need to come ready to play,” Bovee said.

Erie-Mason (7-14) faces Madison (11-9) at Sand Creek in the opening game tonight at 6 p.m. Morenci and Whiteford follow at 7:30 p.m.

WHITMORE LAKE—The Bulldogs dropped their final league game March 24 at Whitmore Lake, falling to the Trojans’ three-point bombing attack.

“I thought for the most part we were in their faces,” Bovee said

But rebounds made from those shots tend to bounce long and the Bulldog defenders were often out of position to field them.

“We just don’t match up well with them very well,” Bovee said.

MORENCI WRESTLING: Morenci’s two state-qualifying wrestlers are off to the Palace of Auburn Hills this week to prepare for the annual tournament that begins Thursday afternoon.

All qualifiers get in one round Thursday and at least one more Friday as wrestlers work to advance to the final action on Saturday.

Senior Jeff Nofziger (34-3) makes a return trip to the Palace after his 1-2 record last season when he was hampered by an injury. Nofziger competed at 145 pounds last season, but dropped down to 140 in 2009.

This year he kicks off action against Kaleb Myer, a sophomore from Dansville who has the weakest record in the 140-pound division at 38-20.

Morenci coach Scott Clark doesn’t want to talk about records. They can be deceiving due to the level of competition a wrestler faces.

“There are some pretty good records in there, but I think everybody is 0-0,” he said. “We just need to come out and wrestle every match.”

The division is filled with experienced wrestlers, with only two juniors and the one sophomore. There are two state placers returning from last season—the fourth and fifth best from last year’s 135-pound division who have moved up to 140.

If Nofziger wins his opener, he’ll face either Nick Schiavo from Iron Mountain (39-12) who finished second in his regional tournament or William Hodge of Bangor (28-4) who placed third in his regional.

Among the 15 other competitors at 140 pounds, Nofziger has faced only two—both at the regional tournament last weekend.

Morenci junior Dustin Roller (25-6) placed third in the region in the 130-pound division after losing his opening bout. He’ll face Bronson senior Preston Lucas (42-8) who placed second in his region. Roller missed more than a month of action due to an injury, which gives him one of the smallest number of wins in his division.

Win or lose, Roller will compete against either sophomore Jordan Bates (51-7), a regional winner, or Cody Mulhollen (41-13) of Dansville who finished fourth in his region.

Roller’s division includes three sophomores and four juniors in addition to nine senior wrestlers.

Three were state placers last season at lighter weight classes and 10 of the 16 have single-digit loss records. Among the qualifiers in Nofziger’s division, 12 have records with single-digit losses.

“Dustin has some tough kids in his weight class, too,” Clark said.

No matter where you place them in the brackets, he said, there are 15 tough kids who will compete Thursday.

MORENCI POWER-LIFTING: Three Morenci power-lifters participated  Saturday in Flint at the U.S.A. Powerlifting Michigan National Qualifier on Saturday and two came home with first-place finishes.

Levi Hoffman took first place finishes in the squat lift with a lift of 510 pounds, the bench lift with a lift of 335, and the dead lift with a lift of 515. He also placed first in  total with 1,360. He lifted in the 181 weight class.

Naomi Hoffman also placed first in all categories in the 114-pound weight class. She had a squat lift of 210, a bench lift of 110, and a dead lift of  220 for a total of 540.

Salena Keller competed in the 123 weight class. She placed first in the squat with a lift of 240; second in dead lift with 270; and third in bench with 95 and total with 605.

FAYETTE SOFTBALL: Softball season is quickly approaching and adult leagues are forming in Fayette.

A Tuesday night co-ed recreational league, consisting of five men and five women, and a Friday night mens league will be offered in Fayette. The leagues will run from May to August and will conclude with end-of-the-season tournaments.

The mens league costs $450 and the co-ed league costs $350. Umpire fees will be charged as in the past, but organizers are hoping to have those fees paid in advance rather than paying $10 each game throughout the season.

Umpire fees and league rule changes will be discussed further at league meetings. Meetings must be attended by a representative from each team in order to participate in the league. Teams will be contacted with dates and times of meetings.

League spots are available on a first come, first served basis. To reserve a team spot, contact Scott Wagner at 419/583-9340 or 419/237-2058 after 3:30 p.m.