EAST LANSING – Typically the deeper you advance in the state tournament, the games get harder and harder.
But you would have never known that on Thursday in the Division 3 girls basketball state semifinals, when Kent City made easy work of Madison Heights Bishop Foley 47-30 at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University.
The Eagles, now 26-0, will face Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in the Division 3 finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. at MSU.
For Kent City, the experience is a repeat of last season – sort of. The Eagles won in the state semifinals last year, defeating Calumet by only six points, and Thursday’s game wasn’t nearly as tight.
The Eagles looked like old veterans playing on a familiar court.
“I do think we were more comfortable,” said Kent City Coach Aleah Holcomb about her team playing at the Breslin Center for the second straight season. “I think it’s a huge advantage we were here last year. I’m a little surprised by how much we won by, but our defense was great, and we hit great shots.”
Now Kent City will focus on another chance in the state finals, which they lost to Grass Lake last year by two points.
That near miss still motivates the Eagles, according to Holcomb.
“I’m glad we’re back,” the coach said. “The two-point loss is just motivation. It made us work even harder. We worked really hard to get back to this point.”
While the Eagles coasted to victory on Thursday, the first quarter was pretty tight.
Kent City jumped out to a 10-6 lead with 4:07 remaining in the opening quarter, neither team scored the rest of the way, and the Eagles led by four at the first buzzer.
In the second quarter, junior Lexie Bowers showcased her long-range ability, knocking down three triples to help Kent City grab a comfortable 30-13 halftime lead.
Kent City outscored the Ventures 20-7 in the quarter while limiting Bishop Foley to 2-of-12 shooting.
Bishop Foley had a 10-6 advantage in the third quarter, but Kent City still led 36-23 headed into the fourth.
Bowers once again took over at the start of the fourth quarter, nailing the first six points, including a four-point play that included a triple and a free throw.
The Eagles’ lead got as large as 22 points with 5:17 remaining when Madelyn Geers had a three-point play to make the score 45-23.
Kent City coasted to victory despite being outscored 7-2 over the final 5:15.
Bowers totaled 22 points on the night while shooting 8-for-17 from the floor, including 5-for-11 from three-point range. The strong performance comes after scoring just six points on Tuesday, when the Eagles survived in the quarterfinals with a one-point victory over Schoolcraft.
“It sucked,” said Bowers about the one game slump. “I went home after that game and it was whatever. I woke up the next morning and was like, it’s a new day. I focused on my shot more and today was a good day.”
Madelyn Geers totaled 16 points while grabbing 14 rebounds for the Eagles while Taryn Preston also had a strong game, totaling seven points and 10 rebounds.
“She’s a great player,” said Holcomb about Madelyn Geers. “She’s a threat from anywhere. She’s a great driver and a great shooter. Defensively she’s quick and gets her hands on the ball to get blocks. She’s one of our top players and we’re glad to have her.”
Ryan Moorer led the Ventures with seven points on the day.
Madison Heights Bishop Foley was held to just 10-for-46 shooting on the day, including 2-for-16 from three-point range while also being outrebounded 41-29.