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Girls’ basketball won its third straight OK Black title

Megan Swanker, Sports Editor

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The girls’ basketball team finished its season as conference champs for the fourth year in a row and district champs for the third consecutive year.

Although the season ended in the regional opener with a loss to East Kentwood, head coach Brad Kurth said he was filled with pride because of the way the team performed this season.

“A very prominent coach said success is really hard to maintain over time and so one of the hardest things I’ve learned is that after winning our first district championship in 2008-09, I thought they would be more frequent, but it is a lot harder than it looks.” said Kurth, who guided the Sailors to a 50-42 win over Reeths-Puffer in the district title game. “It is a lot more difficult, and then, to have three of them back-to-back-to-back is really hard to do. You’re talking about beating teams for a third time in a season, which is very difficult to do, teams that know you extremely well and you have to beat your conference opponents. I am extremely proud of the third district title in a row and the fourth conference championship in a row.”

In the conference, the Sailors finished with an 11-1 record.

“I think (winning the conference four years in a row) is just a great thing because the players are working at a championship level,” Kurth said. “There’s a lot of kids that worked really hard to obtain that title, and we had to beat them to get it. It means more knowing who we had to beat and knowing the quality of competition we had to surpass.”

Even though the team was disappointed about how the season ended, they still have much to be proud of, including each other.

“I’m proud of my family. We had a season full of adversity, and every single person played their part and powered through,” junior Ryleigh Wehler said. “We would have loved a different ending, obviously, but as (assistant coach Mike) Veltman said, ‘You can’t replace family with a trophy.’ We won district,s and we were conference champions, and that’s hard to do. So I am proud of everyone on the team and how much effort they put in.”

While the overall record was 19-4 and the Sailors had the best player in the state in senior Jordan Walker, who was named Miss Basketball, the loss to the Falcons in the regional opener made the season bittersweet.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Kurth said, “but it’s hard to know that we could have won and could still have been playing. To me, the loss that ends the season is hard to live with, but I know and the players know that we did everything we could to win that game, and I am very proud of the kids that were on the court and gave their all in that game.”

Kurth added that the support of the community was amazing.

“We played at least seven times before at least 1,500-2,000 fans,” Kurth said. “For our girls’ basketball program, it is an amazing accomplishment to get the kind of fans and support that we got, and it is unprecedented. There are a lot of colleges that don’t get 1,500 people coming to watch them play. It’s amazing that our kids are such great people and work so hard on the court that they are worthy of having that kind of fan support.”

With the slogan of “Run to the Roar,” the team met challenges, such as traveling to Detroit three times to play some of the best teams in the state.

“The string of championships here is amazing, and I am really proud of that,” Kurth said. “The team worked its tail off from beginning to end of the year to make that happen, and I am really proud of that. We really did ‘Run to the Roar.’”

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