Zarycki Leaves as Top Scorer, Big Winner
March 25, 2019
By Wes Morgan
Special for Second Half
She didn’t envision 79 varsity victories, three District championships, three league titles or a program scoring record at the time.
As a young girl in her driveway years ago, Edwardsburg’s Kaitlyn Zarycki just wanted to master dribbling between her legs and behind-the-back passes.
Zarycki, who just completed her final basketball season as the Eddies’ electric point guard, likely will sit atop the school’s all-time list of scorers for many years to come after netting 1,609 career points in her four-year career. She also led the team to a record 23 victories this season following a one-loss campaign that ended with a 60-39 defeat to Hamilton in the Division 2 Regional Semifinals.
“It was really hard when Coach took me out in the last minute,” the four-year starter said. “It started to sink in that it was finally over. We had an amazing season, and I’m proud of all these girls. All the hard work we put in was worth it.”
Everything else she has accomplished is slowly starting to register as well. Zarycki, who already held the girls scoring record at Edwardsburg, was aware of the fact she was on the verge of passing Josh Kozinski as the school’s top scorer including both hoops programs. Kozinski ended his time with the Eddies with 1,580 career points in 2013.
In a District title game against Three Rivers, Zarycki poured in 27 points, setting a new record in the third quarter.
“I knew how many points I had, but when I hit it, I had no idea,” she said. “I was just more focused on the game. Afterwards, it felt nice. I am very proud. It makes me happy to see how proud I’ve made my family. I know I couldn’t be here without the program and my teammates as well.”
With a talented and cohesive group, led by a senior class with ample chemistry which also included guards Claire Alby, Bailey Anson, Chloe Bartz and Madison Robinson, the Eddies were able to secure back-to-back District championships for the first time.
Edwardsburg was a combined 79-14 over her four varsity seasons.
“We knew that if everybody played unselfishly and played for each other that we could do something special,” said coach Jon Pobuda, who took over the program four years ago. “We had a great season last year, and we thought we could take it to another level this year. Those girls are always together and enjoyed playing together. It is just a great group of young ladies.
“We went from not knowing if we could win (four years ago) to now expecting to win every game. You have to give credit to Kaitlyn Zarycki. She has taken our program to whole new level. She’s just an amazing talent, selfless and she makes everyone around her better.”
What’s even more impressive is Pobuda and Zarycki didn’t milk blowouts in order to set an individual scoring record. The Wolverine Conference champion’s average margin of victory was around 28 points per game, and Zarycki averaged only 23 minutes per game.
“It’s nice to see these girls who don’t normally get to play, play,” she said. “I’m not a selfish person. I just like to see them play. I knew when I was in that I wasn’t going to play the whole game, so I needed to make every minute count.”
Zarycki finished the year averaging around 22 points, four assists, six steals and five rebounds per contest.
Growing up a coach’s daughter – her father Mark has coached both the girls varsity and JV over the years – it comes as no surprise spending so much time in a gym has translated to accolades and opportunities. Zarycki, who signed to play at Saginaw Valley State University next year, was named to The Associated Press all-state second team as a junior in 2018 and has a good chance to make the first team this year. She was an honorable mention as a sophomore.
Saginaw Valley State had a rough winter, finishing 6-21 overall with all six victories coming in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. But it’s a program hoping to turn things around after seven losses by fewer than 10 points. Saginaw Valley State started two freshmen in all 27 games, which is a great sign for Zarycki next season.
On top of all that, Zarycki earned all-state after an eighth-place finish in the 400-meter relay at last year’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Girls Track & Field Finals at Zeeland Stadium. Along with teammates Jocelyn Hack, Alexa Markel and Cameron Cleveland, the Eddies logged a school-record time of 4 minutes, 9.72 seconds.
But her legacy will be that of a ball-handling dynamo who finished at the bucket, made eyebrow-raising plays, displayed court vision and tenacious defense on the basketball court.
“I’m glad she’s been with me the last four years,” Pobuda said. “I’m sure a lot of teams are OK with her not coming back next year. She didn’t really care about the stats; she cared about winning.”
Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and ESPNChicago.com, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of JoeInsider.com. He can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Edwardsburg’s Kaitlyn Zarycki gets a shot up despite being surrounded by three defenders. (Middle) Zarycki runs the offense against Three Rivers. (Photos by Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune.)
Teams of the Month: Hart Girls & Boys Basketball
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 23, 2023
Few communities in Michigan this winter celebrated as many sizable basketball achievements as small-town Hart.
The 2,000-resident Oceana County seat, about seven miles off the Lake Michigan shore and sitting about 20 miles south of Ludington and 30 north of Muskegon, celebrated accomplishments by both its girls and boys basketball teams that carried statewide significance – and made choosing either over the other’s impossible.
The Hart girls and boys basketball teams are the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Teams of the Month” for February, and this announcement is coming toward the end of March as both just kept winning and adding to their season-long lists of feats.
The Pirates girls made the first major headline when they defeated second-place Mason County Central 51-32 on Feb. 10 to clinch the outright West Michigan Conference Rivers championship. The Hart girls had also won the formerly one-division WMC in 2021-22, and this year’s run ran their league winning streak to 31 games.
Then the boys took their turn, clinching a share of the Rivers championship Feb. 17 with a 67-51 win over North Muskegon and then the title outright by defeating Mason County Central 63-45 on Feb. 23. This league title received some statewide buzz as it was the Hart boys’ first since 1963.
A week later, Hart’s boys finished a 22-0 regular season – becoming the only boys team, and joined by only three girls teams – to go 22-0 this first season that MHSAA member schools were allowed to play 22 games instead of the previous longtime maximum of 20.
The Hart boys then drew into one of the strongest Districts in the state in any division, with the Division 2 group at Big Rapids including four league champions. The Pirates opened with a win over the host Cardinals – winners of the Central State Activities Association – before ending their season at 23-1 with a loss to Big North Conference co-champ Cadillac in the District Final.
The Pirates girls, meanwhile, had clinched their Division 3 District with a third win over Mason County Central, and then won a Regional by edging two-time reigning Finals runner-up Kent City 37-34 – in the process also avenging Hart’s first loss of this season, from Dec. 20. The Regional title was the Hart girls' first since 1992.
Next up was 23-1 Buchanan – and Hart made its biggest statewide splash by handing the Bucks a 45-41 Quarterfinal defeat that sent the Pirates to the MHSAA Girls Basketball Semifinals for the first time.
Hart would end up falling to eventual champion Hemlock 57-26 at Breslin Center, finishing the season 24-4.
“I said it the other day: We’re kinda overlooked. Last year we had a really good team, probably one injury away from another run like this,” said Hart girls basketball coach Travis Rosema during the press conference after the Semifinal. “It started with people investing into the girls. Now that players like Aspen (Boutell) and Abbey (Hicks) have made this run, I saw so many young faces. … We left this morning, the elementary school was packed, and every kid had a sign. It’s a positive impact (and) it’s going to be a lot moving forward.”
The Pirates girls were keyed by Hicks, a junior, sophomore Addi Hovey and Boutell, one of three senior starters.
The boys were paced by senior Parker Hovey, who went over 1,000 points for his career and will continue at Hope College.
Past Teams of the Month, 2022-23
January: Taylor Trillium Academy bowling - Report
December: Byron Center hockey - Report
November: Martin football - Report
October: Gladwin volleyball - Report
September: Negaunee girls tennis - Report
(PHOTOS by Kara Raeth/CatchMark SportsNet.)