GRAND RAPIDS – It took a couple years, but the wait was worth it for Fowler's girls basketball team.
The Eagles finally closed the book on a disappointing Quarterfinal loss two years ago to stun unbeaten Carney-Nadeau 61-37 in Wednesday's first Division 4 Semifinal at Van Andel Arena.
Fowler junior guard Mia Riley said her teammates had not forgotten a 57-36 Quarterfinal loss to Adrian Lenawee Christian in 2019, a loss which capped a 17-win season. The players used that memory to pound their way into their first Girls Basketball Final since finishing Class D runner-up in 1999.
"We've been waiting, just itching to get back," Riley said. "It was always in the back of our minds, and now it's just a great feeling."
The win snapped a 22-game winning streak for Carney-Nadeau, which had won its previous five tournament games by an average of 19 points per contest. No team had come as close as eight points to beating the Wolves this season.
But Fowler (15-4) never trailed after a layup by Avery Koenigsknecht snapped a 10-10 tie with 1:21 left in the first quarter. Fowler upped the lead to 33-17 at the half and 49-28 at the end of three quarters.
The win sent Fowler (15-4) into Friday's 10 a.m. Final against Bellaire at the Breslin Center.
Eagles coach Nathan Goerge said there was little to complain about after his team forced a whopping 31 turnovers, including 16 in the first half. That defense, which featured five players with at least three steals, was largely responsible for Carney-Nadeau attempting 28 fewer field goals (59-31).
"The execution was absolutely awesome. We had some breakdowns, but none that really hurt us," Goerge said. "We're a tough team to beat when we spread the floor and make shots. We always tell the girls when you have a shot, it's going up. We have a lot of good shooters on this team."
Fowler overcame missing its first nine 3-pointers to land three players in double figures while shooting 37 percent (22 of 59) from the floor.
Sisters Emma and Mia Riley head the list of good shooters. Mia, a junior guard, finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. Emma, a sophomore guard, added 18 points and eight steals. Emma Halfmann had 11 points.
Carney-Nadeau was led by Tessa Wagner's 21 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Kedsch added 10 points.
"We've handled the press well, but this was something new for us," Kedsch said.
Wolves coach Ken Lindor said the turnovers made it difficult for the team to sustain much consistency on offense.
"We just really struggled with their pressure," Lindor said. "They pushed us out on offense. We were okay shooting the ball (48 percent), but we had too many unforced turnovers that we don't normally make. We just couldn't get in a flow. They had good ball pressure and took away the passing lanes. We didn't move as well as we usually do; there was a lot of standing around.
"We haven't been this far in 20 years, and one of our goals was to get here,” he added. “We met that goal, and that was pretty special."
PHOTOS: (Top) Fowler's Mia Riley looks for an opening with Carney-Nadeau's Shae Linder defending. (Middle) Emma Riley brings the ball upcourt with teammate Emma Halfmann at her side . (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
STAMBAUGH — Danica Shamion has enjoyed plenty of success in track & field throughout her high school athletic career.
The West Iron County senior is also quite successful in basketball.
Shamion joined the 1,000-point club here Jan. 23 while scoring 34 in a 63-60 loss to Norway.
“That really felt good,” she said after last week’s 93-41 win over Bessemer on Senior Night. “I’m glad I was able to do that at home. Although, it would have been even better had we won that game.”
The Wykons scored five in double digits against the Speedgirls, led by senior Siena Stine with 20 points. Junior center Sidney Storti added 17 points, and Shamion finished with 16 points and 17 assists.
“Sidney is a real asset to our team,” Shamion said. “I can see the floor pretty well, and the other girls are doing a pretty good job getting open. This was our last home game. It definitely meant something to us.”
Shamion, an All-Upper Peninsula Division 1-3 first-team selection a year ago, twisted her ankle in a season-opening 47-40 triumph over Iron Mountain and missed the next three games.
West Iron was 1-3 going into the holiday break before getting back on track with a 42-28 victory over Kingsford on Jan. 2. That enabled the Wykons to improve to 4-3 before dropping six of their next seven games.
West Iron, which was 5-9 after dropping a 73-55 decision at Negaunee, had won four in a row prior to Thursday’s 46-44 loss at Calumet. But the Wykons bounced back with a 51-49 win over Ishpeming Westwood on Tuesday to get back to .500 at 10-10.
“We were trying to forge our identity and weren’t hitting our shots (earlier in the season),” Shamion said. “Although, we’ve been playing better defense lately. We’re pretty good one-on-one and usually play man-to-man. We try to run the floor and score in transition.
“Negaunee is probably the best team we’ve seen this year, although Ishpeming and Houghton are also very good and Calumet and Westwood are tough,” she added.
In track & field, Shamion set U.P. Division 2 Finals record in the 200-meter dash (26.34 seconds) and 400 (57.18) last season. She also won the 100 (12.79) and placed second in high jump at 4 feet, 10 inches. She is a three-time Finals champion in all three sprint races.
Shamion also made the all-U.P. Volleyball Dream Team in the fall.
She will continue on the track at Central Michigan University after she graduates from West Iron this spring.
“I didn’t know much about their program, but I was interested in what they had to offer,” she said. “The girls on the team are nice, which is part of the reason why I chose Central. It’s a relief to have that decided.”
John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
PHOTOS (Top) West Iron’s Danica Shamion (24) blocks a shot during her team’s game at Ishpeming on Jan. 15. (Middle) Shamion maintains possession of the ball. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)