There’s something about districts that brings out the best in the Fruitport varsity basketball teams.

Last week the Fruitport boys squad won two games in Division 2 districts and advanced to the tournament finals, after posting a 5-17 record in the regular season.

Now the Fruitport girls team is doing the same thing.

The Trojans got a big monkey off their backs on Monday by defeating Orchard View in the first round of districts, ending a painful 16-game losing streak.

Fruitport’s Riley Kettell (11). Photo/Jeremy Clark

Then they kept it going on Wednesday, getting off to a good start and beating Montague 44-33 in the semifinal round in the Fruitport gym.

Now the Trojans, 7-17 on the season, advance to Friday night’s Division 2 district championship game against Spring Lake.

The girls will try to do one better than the boys in that respect, since the boys lost to Spring Lake in last week’s finals.

Fruitport Coach Brian Packard said his players had a simple choice to make after suffering through a really bad regular season, and they chose to keep plowing ahead.

“You have a couple different options after you’ve been losing all season,” Packard said. “You can either get in the playoffs, say you’ve got another season to play and go to work, or you can decide you are ready to go home. Our girls have done such a good job of showing that they are not ready to be done yet. Now let’s see what happens on Friday.”

Fruitport’s Jorja Blackmer. Photo/Jeremy Clark

The Trojans gained a lot of confidence right away on Wednesday, outscoring the Wildcats 9-2 in the first quarter.

Montague came back and outscored Fruitport 14-11 in the second quarter to leave the Trojans with a tight 20-16 halftime advantage.

The Trojans regrouped in the third quarter, outscored the Wildcats 15-12 and took a 35-28 lead into the fourth.

There wasn’t much scoring in the final eight minutes, but Fruitport had a 9-5 edge, which was enough to seal down the win and keep its season alive.

Freshman Izzy Hanson-Wilbur continued her great season by putting up a double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Fruitport’s Izzy Hanson-Wilbur. Photo/Jeremy Clark

Junior Kenzie Pate, who only recently became a starter, continued her hot shooting with 12 points, all on three-point buckets.

Ashton Olson and Rhiannon Raleigh had 10 and 7 rebounds, respectively, for Fruitport, while Jorja Blackmer dished out four assists.

Coach Packard said Pate’s four triples were a huge boost to the Trojans, particularly the one she hit with about a minute and a half left in the low-scoring fourth quarter.

“She also started the game with a three and had two more in the second quarter,” Packard noted about Pate, who was 4-for-6 from three-point range. “Those were huge for our team. She has ice water in her veins.”

Packard said he could tell that his players were rejuvenated after tasting victory on Monday for the first time since late December, and that carried over to Wednesday.

Fruitport’s Ashton Olson (10). Photo/Jeremy Clark

“Our practice yesterday was great,” he said. “Our girls have been awesome all year getting back to it after losses, but it was really nice to walk in still on that high from winning, then kind of riding that high. I think the girls are kind of clicking. I am super proud of them.”

Packard knows that the Trojans will have a big challenge on Friday against a very good Spring Lake team that finished third in the tough O-K Blue conference this season.

Fruitport was winless in the O-K Blue, finished last and lost both of its regular season games against Spring Lake.

“They are a tough team, skilled at every position, and they play fast and play as a team,” Packard said about the Lakers. “It’s going to be a tough task, but we are going to battle our butts off and give them everything we have. We’re going to do our best to win so we can play again next week.”eddie