Fowler vs. Portland St. Patrick – – Girls Basketball MHSAA District Final – – The Bleacher Denizen – – March 4, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

Tonight, the Bleacher Denizen is headed back to Lansing Christian High School where the Shamrocks from Portland St. Patrick and the Eagles from Fowler will compete to see who will win the District Championship. These two teams are the top rated Division 4 Girls Basketball Teams in Michigan. Between them, they have only lost one game other than to each other and that was Fowler’s loss to Division 2 Defending State Champion Portland High.

(In a sneak into the future, I’ll also let you know that Portland High beat Lansing Catholic to win their Division 2 District. In other words, Portland High is really good!!!)

Your Bleacher Denizen made the trek all the way from his house in Lansing to Lansing Christian High which is about a mile from my house. Fortunately, the BleacherDenizenMobile was up to the task and I got there. The gym is packed with lots of fans from either school as well as a number of CMAC fans who just want to see a good basketball game.

St. Patrick enters the game with a 21-0 record. They are led by Lydia Meredith, a point guard supreme who defends fiercely anywhere on the floor and rebounds well in addition to being able to do all the standard things a point guard does like handling the ball, passing and shooting. She is nearly unstoppable when she drives to the basket. Katelyn Russell is a fine three point shooter and passer who can defend in the post or on the perimeter. Mara Schrauben is an excellent rebounder and scorer in the post. She has great footwork to get open for shots and is very strong.

Ellayna Meredith is a perimeter defender who never runs out of energy. She is very disruptive to opposing offenses. She can score on drives to the basket. Carly Scheurer is a tough perimeter defender. Natalee Teachworth is an extremely athletic post player who jumps extremely high and extremely quickly. She is able to leap over people to block shots or score near the basket. Rylee Scheurer is tall and quick; she defends well either near the basket or out on the perimeter. Addison Scheurer defends well on the perimeter and is a threat from the three point line.

The Fowler Eagles have an 18-3 record coming into the game. The Eagles are led by the Riley sisters.

Mia Riley one of the most determined basketball players I have ever seen. She backs down from no one. She is very aggressive on the Fowler defense where she can pressure people on the perimeter or battle with them in the post. She is an extremely good rebounder for her size. On offense, she’s a tremendous ball handler and passer. When she drives to the basket, she can seemingly release the ball from any angle and she makes a lot of shots other players would not dare to take. She is also a good midrange shooter who can hit from the three point line.

Emma Riley is also an extremely determined player who wants to win. She is an aggressive defender as well. On offense, she is a great ball handler and accurate passer. She can hit three point shots either off the catch or off the dribble. She is also really clever and elusive when she drives to the basket to score. Grace Epkey is a great defender and rebounder in the lane. She gets a lot of putbacks and can hit the three point shot when she is open.

Avery Koenigsknecht and Carly Andros are fierce perimeter defenders who are strong three point shooters. Taylor Weber plays solid perimeter defense; Madison Wirth can defend on the perimeter or the post; she is also a good leader.

It is now time to review the events of this game through the smudged lenses of an eager, but aging Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league when he attempted to play basketball in ancient times when many considered him to be “young.” When he played horseshoes, he learned that you could score points when a shoe is just leaning against the post. Alas, basketball referees, scorers and coaches will not reward you when you hit the rim, but the shot does not go through. (We won’t get into the “airball” shouts after many Bleacher Denizen shots.)

Fowler gets the opening tap. The Eagles misfires on a threeball from the wing. Carly Andros ties up the ball; the Possession Arrow polls its team of toddlers at its preschool and the ball is awarded to St. Patrick. Grace Epkey knocks the Shamrock inbound pass out of bounds; St. Patrick gets the ball back. St. Patrick misses a driving six foot hook shot. Mara Schrauben is fouled on a putback and hits two free throws to give the Shamrocks a 2-0 lead with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.

Ellayna Meredith taps the ball away from Fowler and causes a tieup. The Possession Arrow’s toddlers look up from their morning juice and award the ball to Fowler. Grace Epkey passes to Emma Riley, who throws in a threeball from the wing to give Fowler the lead. St. Patrick misses a ten foot shot from the side. Lydia Meredith hits a putback to give St. Patrick a 4-3 lead.

Fowler misses a three pointer from the wing. Grace Epkey gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. Ellayna Meredith goes coast to coast to hit a layup for St. Patrick to push her Shamrocks to a 6-3 lead.

Lydia Meredith steals the ball for the Shamrocks. Grace Epkey blocks a St. Patrick six foot shot from the side. The Shamrocks get the ball back and miss an eight foot hook shot in the lane. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Patrick gets it back. The Shamrocks miss a layup. Mara Schrauben gets the offensive rebound for St. Patrick. St. Patrick misses a layup.

Lydia Meredith leaves the game briefly to tend to a bloody nose. Fowler turns the ball over. Avery Koenigsknecht knocks the ball away from the Shamrocks and causes a scramble for the ball. The ball is tied up. The Possession Arrow’s toddlers think the Shamrock green uniforms look cool and award the ball to St. Patrick. The Shamrocks miss a five foot shot. Rylee Scheurer gets the offensive rebound for the Shamrocks. St. Patrick misses a layup and a putback. Grace Epkey passes to Mia Riley, who drives and hits a reverse layup to trim the Shamrock lead to 6-5.

St. Patrick misses a six foot shot in the lane. Emma Riley passes to Carly Andros, who hits a three point shot near the top of the key to give Fowler a two point lead. Katelyn Russell is fouled on a three pointer from the side. She sinks one, two and three free throws to give St. Patrick a 9-8 lead with 1:52 remaining in the first quarter.

Fowler misses a three point shot near the top of the key. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Patrick takes possession. The Shamrocks throw a pass out of bounds. Carly Andros passes to Mia Riley, who is fouled before she can try to shoot a layup. Grace Epkey passes to Taylor Weber, who hits a three point shot from the wing to give Fowler an 11-9 lead.

St. Patrick misses an eight foot shot from the baseline. Lydia Meredith gets the offensive rebound for the Shamrocks. Carly Andros steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a half court heave as the first quarter buzzer makes its presence known.

After one quarter, Fowler has an 11-9 lead.

Fowler inbounds the ball to open the second quarter. The Eagles miss a three point shot from the top of the key. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Patrick takes possession. Addison Scheurer passes to Lydia Meredith, who hits a layup for St. Patrick to tie the game. Lydia Meredith knocks the ball away from a Fowler dribbler and it goes out of bounds. Fowler gets the ball back. Fowler misses a reverse layup. Mia Riley gets the offensive rebound for Fowler. The Eagles miss a three pointer from the wing. Lydia Meredith goes into the lane and hits an eight foot shot for the Shamrocks. Lydia Meredith steals the ball and hits a fast break layup to give St. Patrick a 15-11 lead.

Lydia Meredith steals the ball for the Shamrocks. Mia Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a fifteen foot shot from the wing. Grace Epkey hits a putback for Fowler to trim the Shamrock lead to 15-13.

Mia Riley blocks a Shamrock layup. Katelyn Russell recovers the ball for the Shamrocks. St. Patrick misses a layup. The rebound is tied up and as the Possession Arrow’s toddlers are napping, on its own, the Arrow decides to give the ball to St. Patrick. St. Patrick misfires on a three point shot from the side; the Shamrocks foul on the rebound. Natalee Teachworth blocks an Eagle layup; the ball goes out of bounds and Fowler takes possession. Fowler throws its inbound pass out of bounds.

St. Patrick throws the ball out of bounds. Katelyn Russell intercepts an Eagle pass into the lane. St. Patrick misses a six foot shot from the baseline. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. Mia Riley and Grace Epkey hit the floor to tie up the ball. The Possession Arrow admires their grit and awards the ball to Fowler. Mia Riley passes to Carly Andros, who banks in a three pointer from the wing to give the Eagles a 16-15 lead. (I KNOW I heard her call, “BANK”!!!)

Mia Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a fast break layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and St. Patrick gets the ball. Ellayna Meredith drives and hits a layup for St. Patrick to retake the lead for the Shamrocks. Mia Riley drives in and hits one of her leaning scooping layups for Fowler. (She really needs to see if the Patent Office will allow her to register that move. It’s really effective.) Katelyn Russell is fouled on an eight footer off the dribble from the baseline. She makes two free throws to give the Shamrocks a 19-18 lead with 24.4 seconds to go in the first half.

Carly Andros gets the ball to Emma Riley, who hoists and makes a threeball from the wing for Fowler. St. Patrick misses a thirty footer from the wing at the buzzer.

Fowler has a 21-19 lead at halftime.

Lydia Meredith has 8 points to lead St. Patrick and Katelyn Russell has 5 points.

Emma Riley and Carly Andros each have 6 points to lead the Fowler scoring.

St. Patrick has the ball to start the third quarter. The Shamrocks miss a ten foot shot from the side of the lane. Emma Riley hits a fast break layup for Fowler. St. Patrick loses the ball out of bounds. Lydia Meredith steals the ball and hits a fast break layup to trim the Fowler lead to 23-21.

Carly Andros passes to Emma Riley, who hits a three point shot from the side for Fowler. St. Patrick misses a three point shot from the wing. Fowler misses a jump shot from the free throw elbow. Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup and gets the offensive rebound. Mara Schrauben steals the ball for the Shamrocks. Ellayna Meredith is fouled on a shot and hits one of her two free throws to shave the Fowler lead to 26-22 with 5:51 to play in the third quarter.

Fowler misses a jumper off the dribble from the free throw line. Emma Riley pulls down the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. St. Patrick misses a layup. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Patrick takes possession. St. Patrick misses a ten foot shot from the baseline. Fowler misses an up and under scooping layup. Mia Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. The Riley Connection comes through as Mia Riley passes to Emma Riley for a fast break layup to push the Fowler lead to 28-22.

St. Patrick misses a three point shot from the corner. Ellayna Meredith blocks a Fowler fast break layup; the loose ball goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball. Addison Scheurer ties up a Fowler pass in the lane. The Possession Arrow was busy getting the toddlers on the bus for an outing and missed the play. The Ball is awarded to Fowler. Fowler misses a three point launch from the corner. Lydia Meredith is fouled on a fast break layup and hits two free throws for St. Patrick to cut the Fowler lead to 28-24 with 3:39 remaining in the third quarter.

Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. St. Patrick misses a threeball from the side. Fowler travels on a layup. Rylee Scheurer passes to Katelyn Russell, who hits a three point shot from the wing for St. Patrick to cut the Fowler lead to one point. Emma Riley is fouled on a driving layup and hits one of her two free throws to give Fowler a 29-27 lead with 2:09 to play in the third quarter.

St. Patrick misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler misses a layup. Mia Riley gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler commits an offensive foul. St. Patrick misses a layup. Fowler misses a three point shot from the side. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball back. Fowler misses a layup. Carly Andros hits the floor to secure the offensive rebound for the Eagles. From the floor, she passes to Mia Riley, who hits a layup to push Fowler to a 31-27 lead.

St. Patrick misses a layup. Fowler fouls on the rebound. St. Patrick misses a six foot shot from the baseline. Lydia Meredith is fouled on a putback and hits two free throws for St. Patrick with 22.6 seconds to play in the quarter. Fowler misfires on a triple launch at the buzzer.

With three quarters in the books, Fowler has a 31-29 lead.

St. Patrick inbounds the ball to get the fourth quarter underway. Katelyn Russell passes to Mara Schrauben, who hits a layup to for the Shamrocks to tie the game. Emma Riley is fouled driving to the basket; she hits one of her two free throws to give Fowler a 32-31 lead with 6:47 remaining in the contest.

Mia Riley nearly steals the ball for Fowler. She causes a tie up and the Possession Arrow’s bus driver decides to reward her hustle and give Fowler the ball. Emma Riley passes to Avery Koenigsknecht, who hits a layup for the Eagles. Madison Wirth’s tough defense in the post cause St. Patrick to miss a layup. Ellayna Meredith nearly steals the ball for the Shamrocks, but her momentum makes her step on the out of bounds line. Fowler misses a layup. Mia Riley gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles.

Ellayna Meredith steals the ball for the Shamrocks. St. Patrick misses a fast break layup. Lydia Meredith’s tough defense causes a Fowler over and back violation. Emma Riley steals the ball and draws a foul from the Shamrocks. Mia Riley passes to Avery Koenigsknecht, who hits a layup for the Eagles. Lydia Meredith is fouled and sinks both shots of a one and one free throw opportunity to whittle the Fowler lead down to 36-33 with 4:18 left on the clock.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the corner. The Eagles get the offensive rebound. Avery Koenigsknecht hits a fifteen foot shot from the baseline for the Eagles; as the ball is in the air, the Shamrocks foul as they jostle for position for a possible rebound. Madison Wirth hits both ends of a one and one opportunity to boost the Eagle lead to 40-33 with 3:52 left in the game.

The Meredith Connection comes through as Ellayna Meredith passes to her sister, Lydia Meredith, who hits a three point shot from the corner for St. Patrick. Ellayna Meredith gets her hand on the ball and St. Patrick loses it out of bounds. St. Patrick misses a three point shot from the side. Rylee Scheurer hits a putback to pull St. Patrick to within two points at 40-38.

Fowler misses a driving layup. Lydia Meredith passes to Katelyn Russell, who throws in a threeball from the corner to give St. Patrick a one point lead. Avery Koenigsknecht responds by hitting a three point shot from the corner to give the lead back to Fowler. St. Patrick misses an eight foot shot from the side of the lane. Emma Riley is fouled and makes both free throws in a one and one opportunity to extend the Fowler lead to 45-41 with 51.6 seconds remaining in the game.

Katelyn Russell passes to a teammate who is fouled catching the ball in the lane. St. Patrick misses the first shot of a one and one free throw opportunity. Mia Riley is fouled and hits two free throws for Fowler. Mia Riley steals the ball and is fouled. She hits one of her two free throws to push Fowler to a 48-41 lead with 33.3 seconds remaining.

St. Patrick misses a driving layup. Emma Riley is fouled and hits one of her two free throws for Fowler. St. Patrick misses a three point shot from the wing. Avery Koenigsknecht is fouled on the rebound; the foul is ruled to be intentional. Avery Koenigsknecht hits one of her two free throws for Fowler. Fowler dribbles out the last fifteen seconds of the game.

Fowler wins 50-41 and will advance to play Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart in the regional semifinals on Tuesday.

Lydia Meredith led the St. Patrick scoring with 19 points. Katelyn Russell supported her teammate with 11 points. Ellayna Meredith added 5 points. Mara Schrauben scored 4 points. Rylee Scheurer tallied 2 points.

Emma Riley led the Fowler scoring with 18 points. Avery Koenigsknecht joined her teammate in double figures with 10 points. Mia Riley had 9 points to go along with a lot of steals and rebounds. Carly Andros tossed in 6 points. Taylor Weber scored 3 points. Madison Wirth and Grace Epkey each added 2 points.

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