Fulton vs. Lansing Christian – – First Round of MHSA District Tournament – – The Bleacher Denizen – – February 28, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

Tonight is the opening night of the MHSAA March Madness. Your Bleacher Denizen is gradually absorbing the fact that March Madness can actually start in February and is slowing wrapping his mind around this. Tonight’s first game will feature the Pilgrims from Lansing Christian against the Pirates from Fulton.

Fulton has a 1-18 record, however, they have played almost all of their games in the rugged CMAC, where they are one of the two smallest schools. Lansing Christian brings an 11-9 record into the game. I’ll note that they also play in a conference where they are the only Division 4 school among three Division 3 schools and three Division 2 schools. In other words, this is a matchup of teams that are probably much better than their won-lost records would indicate.

For Lansing Christian, Mia Judd is a determined scorer who can get to the basket against just about any defense. She is a fine shooter either in close, from mid-range or from the three point line. She is one of the biggest scorers in the Lansing area and has just recently scored the thousandth point of her career. Audra Usiak runs the point and plays great defense on the perimeter. Lydia Brogan plays on the wing and has an accurate three point shot. Ellianna Gaines plays tough defense and rebounds well in the post.

Avery Wayner is a good mid-range shooter. Grace Sullivan is a threat to score on slashes from the wing. Ashlyn Kephart defends well on the perimeter.

Morgan Kowalesky runs the point for the Fulton Pirates. She is a fine passer and shooter; she also defends well on the perimeter. Avery Walden rebounds well and is a big threat with range on her outside shot that extends to the three point line. She has a strong basketball IQ and plays unselfishly. Madison Bensinger is a versatile player who can hit from the three point line or slash to the basket. Alyssa Lambert brings toughness to the Pirate post.

Emily Stinson is a fine scorer, defender and rebounder in the post. Shelby Staley also scores well inside and rebounds well.

It is now time to look at the events of this contest through the occasionally observant eyes of an aging Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league when he attempted to hoop in the days of yore. A friend of us who was a building contractor convinced your Bleacher Denizen that bricks were a good thing; unfortunately, he did not learn that basketball coaches frown upon bricks until it was too late.

Fulton wins the opening tap. The Pirates commit an over and back violation. Christian misses a jump shot from the free throw line. Christian gets three offensive rebounds, but misses three putbacks. The rebound from the final miss goes out of bounds and Christian gets the ball back. The Pilgrims miss a three point shot from the wing. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fulton gets another opportunity. The Pirates misfire on a three pointer from the wing. Abby Warnke gets the offensive rebound for the Pirates.

Mia Judd steals the ball for the Pilgrims. Christian misses a three point shot from the side. Ashlyn Kephart pulls down the offensive rebound for the Pilgrims. Christian misses a layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and the Pilgrims get another opportunity. Grace Fitzpatrick knocks a Pilgrim pass out of bounds to prevent a layup; Christian gets the ball back. Christian misses a driving layup. They get the offensive rebound and Ellianna Graves hits a three point shot from the corner to give Christian a 2-0 lead.

Audra Usiak ties up the ball; the Possession Arrow consults its Quiz Bowl team and learns that the answer is to give the ball to Fulton. Lydia Brogan steals the ball for Christian. Christian misses a layup. Fulton throws a pass into the lane too high and out of bounds. Christian misfires on a triple try from the corner. Avery Wayner gets the offensive rebound for the Pilgrims. Christian misses a three pointer from the corner. Madison Bensinger hits a ten foot shot off the dribble from the side for the Pirates to tie the game at 2-2.

Mia Judd hits a twelve foot shot off the dribble from the side for Christian. Grace Sullivan steals the ball and passes to Audra Usiak, who hits a fast break layup for Christian. Fulton misses a threeball from the top of the key. Mia Judd hits a twelve foot shot off the dribble in the lane to give Christian an 8-2 lead.

Lydia Brogan’s tough defense forces a Fulton traveling violation. Jaci Canfield’s tough defense forces a Christian traveling violation. Fulton misses a driving layup. Alyssa Lambert steals the ball from Christian’s rebounder and hits a layup for Fulton. Mia Judd hits an eight foot shot off the dribble from the side of the lane to boost Christian to a 10-4 lead.

Fulton throws a pass out of bounds. Christian is fouled on a fifteen foot shot from the side and misses a pair of free throws with 1:06 to play in the first quarter. Fulton misses a three pointer from the wing. Christian misses a fast break layup. Fulton loses a pass out of bounds. Christian misses a six foot hook shot at the buzzer.

After one quarter, Lansing Christian has a 10-4 lead.

Christian inbounds the ball to get the second quarter started. The Pilgrims misfires on a triple try from the corner. Fulton misfires on a triple try from the wing. Grace Sullivan drives the baseline and hits a layup for Christian. She is fouled on the play and makes her free throw. With 7″08 remaining in the first half, Christian has a 13-4 lead.

Fulton is assessed with a traveling violation. Christian misses a three point shot from the side. The rebound goes out of bounds and Christian gets the ball back. The Pilgrims miss a sixteen foot shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and the Pilgrims get the ball back. Christian bounces a pass out of bounds. Madison Bensinger picks up a loose ball and hits gen foot banked shot in the lane to trim the Christian lead to 13-6.

Christian misses a driving layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Fulton takes possession. Christian misses a fourteen foot shot from the side of the lane. The rebound is tied up. After the Possession Arrow quizzes the Quiz Bowl team, the ball is awarded to Fulton. The ball gets away from Fulton and Ellianna Gaines dives to tie up the ball. This time, apparently, the question was different because the ball is awarded to Christian.

Christian misses a threeball from the wing. Ellianna Gaines plays fierce defense and forces Fulton to lose the ball out of bounds. Christian misses a ten foot shot from the side. Grace Sullivan hits a putback for Christian. Kaya Canfield drives and hits a layup for Fulton. Audra Usiak passes to Ellianna Gaines, who banks in a three point shot from the side. (I do think I heard her call, “bank!!”) Kaya Canfield passes to Emily Stinson, who is fouled on a layup and hits one of her two free throws to trim the Christian lead to 18-9 with 2:59 to play in the first half.

Madison Bensinger rebounds the missed free throw for Fulton. Ellianna Gaines knocks a Pirate pass out of bounds. Fulton gets the ball back. Ellianna Gaines knocks the ball away from the Pirates and causes a tieup. This time, when the Possession Arrow consults its Quiz Bowl team, their answer causes the ball to be awarded to Fulton. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. The rebound is tied up. This time, the Possession Arrow asks some deep philosophical questions from the Quiz Bowl team and learns that Christian will get the ball.

Christian misses a driving layup. Fulton misses a fifteen foot shot from the side of the lane. Alyssa Lambert blocks a Christian layup; the loose ball goes out of bounds and Christian gets another possession. Audra Usiak bounces the ball to Mia Judd, who hits a layup to give her Pilgrims a 20-9 lead.

Fulton misses a shot. Jaci Canfield gets the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Audra Usiak steals the ball for the Pilgrims. Christian misses a jump shot. The Canfield Connection makes its presence known as Jaci Canfield passes to Kaya Canfield, who hits a three point shot from the corner for Fulton. Christian is fouled on a fast break layup and misses two free throws with just 8.4 seconds to play in the half. Jaci Canfield pushes the ball up the side and hits a three point shot from the side as the buzzer blares.

At halftime, Lansing Christian has a 20-15 lead. If normal basketball procedures are followed, Christian will continue to lead 20-15 when the third quarter starts.

Kaya Canfield has 5 points and Madison Bensinger has 4 points to lead the Fulton scoring at halftime.

Mia Judd has 8 points for Christian. Ellianna Gaines and Grace Sullivan each have 5 points.

As the third quarter is getting ready to start, the Bleacher Denizen glances at the scoreboard and is reassured that Lansing Christian still has a 20-15 lead.

Fulton inbounds the ball to start off the third quarter. Ellianna Gaines knocks a Pirate pass out of bounds; Fulton retains possession. Fulton misses a ten foot shot from the side of the lane. The rebound is tied up. As the Quiz Bowl team has left for the evening, the Possession Arrow consults with its team of rules experts in New York; the ball is awarded to Christian. Avery Walden knocks the ball away from Christian; the Pilgrims recover. Christian misses a twelve foot shot from the side. The rebound is tied; the Possession Arrow’s rules experts decree that Fulton shall have the ball.

Ellianna Gaines tips the ball away from the Pirates; Fulton is able to recover. Madison Bensinger gets the offensive rebound for the Pirates, but Fulton loses the ball. Christian misses a threeball from the side; Fulton fouls on the rebound. Christian misses a sixteen foot shot from the baseline. Mia Judd gets the offensive rebound for the Pilgrims. Christian misses a fifteen foot shot from the side.

Ellianna Gaines gets the offensive rebound for Christian. Alyssa Lambert steals the ball and draws a foul from the Pilgrims. Madison Bensinger passes to Grace Fitzpatrick, who throws in a threeball from the corner for the Pirates. Christian misses a layup. Avery Walden passes to Alyssa Lambert, who hits a layup for Fulton to tie the game at 20-20.

Audra Usiak passes to Ellianna Gaines, who drives and hits a layup for the Pilgrims; she is fouled on the play but misses her free throw. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fulton takes possession. Fulton misses a driving eight foot banked hook shot from the side. After Christian loses the ball, Madison Bensinger passes to Emily Stinson, who hits a layup for Fulton to tie the game at 22-22.

Mia Judd throws in a threeball from the side for Christian to retake the lead. Lydia Brogan steals the ball for Christian. Christian misses a fast break layup. Ellianna Gaines knocks the ball away from Fulton; the Pirates recover. Fulton misses a ten foot shot in the lane. Jaci Canfield pulls down the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Jaci Canfield starts up the Canfield connection again as she passes to Kaya Canfield, who hits a three point shot from the wing for Fulton to tie the game at 25-25.

Grace Sullivan hits a three point shot from the side for Christian to retake the lead. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Mia Judd passes to Audra Usiak, who hits a fast break layup for Christian. Fulton misses a driving layup. Grace Sullivan hits a fast break layup for Christian. Fulton misses a twelve foot shot from the side of the lane. Mia Judd goes coast to coast for a Christian layup. She is fouled on the play and makes her free throw to boost Christian to a 35-25 lead with 1:22 to play in the third quarter.

Mia Judd steals the ball for Christian and goes coast to coast to hit a fast break layup. Fulton misses a driving layup. Audra Usiak passes to Mia Judd for a Christian layup. Mia Judd steals the ball and is fouled on a fast break layup. With .5 of a second left in the third quarter, she makes two free throws for Christian. Fulton has no time to shoot before the third quarter buzzer makes its presence known.

After three quarters, Lansing Christian has a 41-25 lead.

Christian inbounds the ball to get the final quarter underway. Jaci Canfield steals a Pilgrim pass. Mia Judd ties up the ball; the Possession Arrow’s international consulting team convenes and awards the ball back to Fulton. Christian’s sticky defense forces Fulton to turn the ball over for failing to inbound the ball in five seconds. Christian misses a three point shot from the corner. Mia Judd gets the offensive rebound. Grace Sullivan passes to Mia Judd, who makes a short drive and hits a layup to give Christian a 43-25 lead.

Mia Judd steals a Pirate pass. Christian loses a bounce pass out of bounds. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Avery Walden snares the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Mia Judd steals the ball from Christian. The Pilgrims miss a fast break layup and foul on the rebound. Fulton misses a sixteen foot shot from the side. Avery Walden blocks a Pilgrim fast break layup. Fulton loses a pass out of bounds. Christian is cited for a traveling violation.

Jaci Canfield saves an errant Fulton pass to prevent a Pirate turnover. Ava Mustapha hustles after a loose ball and ties it up for Lansing Christian. The Possession Arrow’s rules committee likes her hustle and awards the ball to Christian. Christian misses a three point shot from the side. Mia Judd hits a putback for the Pilgrims. Avery Walden hits a ten foot shot off the dribble from the side for Fulton. Ava Mustapha hits a fast break layup to give Christian a 47-27 lead.

Jaci Canfield drives and hits a layup for Fulton. Mia Judd drives and hits a layup for Christian. Mia Judd steals the ball; she then stops and pops a fourteen foot shot in the lane through the hoop for Christian. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Christian misses a three point shot from the wing.

Fulton loses a pass out of bounds. Christian misses a ten foot shot from the side. Fulton misses a threeball from the side. The rebound goes out of bounds and Christian takes the ball. Avery Walden nearly steals the ball for Fulton, but her momentum forces her out of bounds. Sophie Hazelton hits a three point shot from the corner for Christian. She is fouled on the play, but misses her free throw. With 1:43 left on the clock, the Pilgrim lead is at 54-29.

Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Grace Fitzpatrick gets the offensive rebound for Fulton. Fulton misses a three pointer from the wing and is fouled on the rebound. Emily Stinson is fouled on a putback and hits one of her two free throws for the Pirates. Alyssa Lambert hits a putback for Fulton. Christian turns the ball over. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Abby Warnke steals the ball for Fulton.

Emma Cooper kicks the ball to disrupt Fulton’s offense. The Pirates get the ball back. Morgan Bensinger passes to Alyssa Lambert, who throws in a threeball from the corner for Fulton. Christian runs out the clock.

Lansing Christian wins the game 54-35 and will play Portland St. Patrick in Wednesday’s semifinal game.

Alyssa Lambert led the Fulton scoring with 9 points. Kaya Canfield supported her with 8 points. Jaci Canfield pitched in with 5 points. Madison Bensinger and Emily Stinson each put in 4 points. Grace Fitzpatrick scored 3 points. Avery Walden had 2 points.

Mia Judd exploded for 20 points in the second half and led the Christian scoring with 28 points. Grace Sullivan joined her teammate in double figures with 10 points. Ellianna Gaines contributed 7 points. Audra Usiak added 4 points. Sophie Hazelton scored 3 points and Ava Mustapha tallied 2 points.

Morrice played Webberville in the second game of tonight’s district first round. Here is a link to that game’s play by play.
https://thebleacherdenizen.com/2022/03/01/webberville-vs-morrice-first-round-mhsaa-girls-district-basketball-tournament-the-bleacher-denizen-february-28-2022-by-chuck-krafft/

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