Fowler vs. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart – – MHSAA Girls Regional Semifinal – – The Bleacher Denizen – – March 8, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

In one of my You Tube videos on my “Chuck Krafft” Channel, I note that you never know where the Red River Valley will lead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w03AhhNk1M8

Unfortunately, one place it does not lead to is Sacred Heart High School in Mt. Pleasant. Fortunately, however, a combination of US-127 and Michigan Avenue in Mt. Pleasant does lead there, so the BleacherDenizenMobile was able to make the trip north to see the Fowler Eagles play the Irish from Sacred Heart in the Regional Semifinal.

The Irish have won their last eleven games en route to a 17-4 record entering tonight’s game. Coach Damon Brown gave me the following information about his Irish players. Delaney Scully is a four year senior starter who handles the point for the Irish. She has a good three point shot; she passes well, handles the ball well and plays strong perimeter defense. Maddie Munley, another four year starter patrols the paint for the Irish. She defends, rebounds and scores well down low.

Anna Terwilliger can score either on slashes to the basket or on mid-range jump shots. Laura Goenner is a good rebounder and defender in the post. Lillie Laney and Angel Brown help with the rebounding and defense in the post as well. Emma Yonker is a solid perimeter defender.

Fowler is 19-3 entering tonight’s game. Their only losses are twice to Portland St. Patrick which was rated #1 in Division 4 and had an undefeated regular season and once to Division 2 Defending Champion Portland. Fowler beat St. Patrick in the District Final to earn their spot in tonight’s game.

The Eagles are led by sisters Mia (a senior) and Emma (a junior) Riley. They are fierce competitors who excel and thrive on the defensive end. They can defend anywhere on the floor and they lead the Eagles in an aggressive press that can force turnovers against anyone. Both sisters are a threat to steal the ball from anyone at any time. Mia Riley is also an extremely good rebounder who backs away from no one, no matter their size.

Both sisters are great, aggressive ball handlers with a never-ending supply of dribble moves to fit any occasion. They also pass well and play very unselfishly. Both are threats to score on slashes to the basket, mid-range jumpers and from the three point line. Emma, in particular, shines with her outside shot. In other words, to put it simply, both of them are winners.

Grace Epkey plays in the post for the Eagles; she is an excellent defender and rebounder who also will refuse to back down from any opponent. She scores a lot of points on putbacks and short shots off post moves, but can also (like all the Fowler top seven players) hit the open three point shot when needed. Avery Koenigsknecht and Carly Andros are fierce perimeter defenders who can hit the three point shot and run well in the fast break.

Taylor Weber is a solid perimeter defender who is another threat from the three point line. Madison Wirth provides some senior leadership to the Eagles. (She and Mia Riley are the only regular players who will graduate this year.) She helps defend in the post, but can also defend on the perimeter; she also has a solid three point shot.

I was able to see the last quarter or so of tonight’s earlier game where Saginaw Nouvel easily beat Hillman 66-30.

Julia Taratuta led the Hillman scoring with 18 points. Nicole Barbeau added 6 points and McKenna Klein scored 5 points. Saige Flaugher tallied 1 point.

Sterling Solek led the victorious Nouvel team with 15 points. Grace Buckingham joined her teammate in double figures with 10 points. Faith Buckingham added 7 points. Sara Wilson, Madison Looby, Iris Patel, Camile Wardin and Molly Wilson each scored 6 points. Grace Chacon had 4 points.

It is now time to review the events of this game through the time-worn eyes of an aging Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league when he attempted to play basketball in the medieval times when he was considered (at least by himself) to be young. Alas, once it was finally ruled that the Bleacher Denizen could not ride his trusty horse on fast breaks, many coaches felt the Bleacher Denizen was simply too slow.

Sacred Heart wins the opening tap. The Irish run their offense for about fifty-five seconds before they finally pass the ball out of bounds. Fowler misses a three point shot from the side. Avery Koenigsknecht pulls down the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Laura Goenner steals the ball for the Irish. Sacred Heart misses a three point shot from the wing. Fowler loses its outlet pass out of bounds on a too-fast break.

The Irish miss a driving layup. Fowler misses a fast break layup. Carly Andros grabs the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. Sacred Heart fouls on the rebound. Mia Riley passes to Avery Koenigsknecht, who hits a three point shot from the top of the key to give Fowler a 3-0 lead.

Sacred Heart misses a layup. Laura Goenner steals the ball for the Irish. Sacred Heart loses a pass out of bounds. Fowler misses a three point shot from the top of the key. Mia Riley knocks the rebound out of bounds to give Fowler a chance to set up its press. Mia Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Mia Riley passes to Grace Epkey, who hits a layup to give her Eagles a 5-0 lead.

Grace Epkey’s defense in the Eagle press causes Sacred Heart to step out of bounds. Avery Koenigsknecht passes to Mia Riley, who hits a fifteen foot shot from the wing for Fowler. Emma Riley knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart, but the Irish are able to recover. Emma Riley steals an Irish pass and is fouled on a fast break layup. Emma Riley hits two free throws to give Fowler a 9-0 lead with 3:32 to play in the first quarter.

Sacred Heart loses its inbound pass out of bounds. Delaney Scully steals the ball for the Irish. Alexys Zeien reacts quickly to save the ball and prevent an Irish turnover. Grace Epkey steals the ball and passes to Emma Riley, who is fouled on a fast break layup and hits one of her two free throws to push the Eagle lead to 10-0 with 3:07 to go in the quarter.

Mia Riley knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart, but Lillie Laney dives to save the ball for the Irish; she draws a foul from the Eagles in the process. Alexys Zeien passes to Maddie Munley, who is fouled on a layup and hits one of her two free throws to trim the Eagle lead to 10-1 with 2:50 remaining in the quarter.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the corner. There is a scramble for the ball; finally Mia Riley is able to knock the ball to Carly Andros, who takes the ball for an Eagle fast break layup. Grace Epkey knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart and Mia Riley picks it up for Fowler. Delaney Scully knocks the ball out of bounds; Fowler retains possession. The Eagles misfires on a triple try from the wing. Grace Epkey gets the offensive rebound for Fowler.

The Eagles are whistled for a traveling violation. Mia Riley knocks the ball away from the Irish and Taylor Weber ties up the ball for the Eagles. The Possession Arrow looks away from its video game and quickly decides that Fowler deserves to have the ball. Mia Riley drives and scoops in a layup to push the Eagle lead to 14-1.

Mia Riley knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart and Madison Wirth picks it up for Fowler. Delaney Scully steals the ball for the Irish. Sacred Heart throws an inbound pass out of bounds. Emma Riley passes to Mia Riley, who banks in a threeball from the top of the key for Fowler. (I’m SURE I heard her yell, “BANK!!”) Fowler has a 17-1 lead.

Emma Riley knocks the Irish inbound pass out of bounds; Sacred Heart retains possession. Emma Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Delaney Scully steals the ball for Sacred Heart. Kelsey McDonald is fouled on a ten foot shot from the side and hits one of her two free throws to trim the Eagle lead to 17-2 with 18.3 seconds to play in the quarter.

Emma Yonker knocks the ball away from Fowler and Delaney Scully picks it up for Sacred Heart. The Irish miss a fast break layup. Kelsey McDonald loses gets the offensive rebound for Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart loses the ball out of bounds. Fowler misses a long heave at the buzzer.

After one quarter, Fowler has a 17-2 lead.

Sacred Heart has the ball to start the second quarter. The Irish miss a layup. Laura Goenner pulls down the offensive rebound for the Irish. Sacred Heart misses a layup. Mia Riley passes to Madison Wirth, who throws in a threeball from the wing for the Eagles. Carly Andros steals the ball for Fowler. The Eagles are cited for a traveling violation. Maddie Munley passes to Laura Goenner, who hits a layup for the Irish. Fowler misses a three pointer from the wing. Delaney Scully passes to Kelsey McDonald, who hits a three point shot from the wing for the Irish to trim the Eagle lead to 20-7.

Avery Koenigsknecht passes to Emma Riley, who sinks a three point shot from the wing for the Eagles. Sacred Heart loses a pass out of bounds. Mia Riley passes to Emma Riley, who hits a three point shot from the wing for Fowler. Sacred Heart loses a pass out of bounds. Anna Terwilliger knocks a pass out of bounds to prevent an Eagle layup; Fowler retains possession. Carly Andros drives the lane and dishes the ball to Emma Riley, who hits a twelve foot shot from the baseline to give Fowler a 28-7 lead.

Emma Riley knocks the ball away from the Irish; they have to go into the backcourt to recover the ball. Kelsey McDonald passes to Delaney Scully, who knocks down a three point shot from the top of the key for the Irish. Taylor Weber responds by hitting a three point shot from the side for Fowler. Sacred Heart turns the ball over. The Riley Connection kicks in as Emma Riley drives and dishes the ball to Mia Riley, who hits a ten foot shot from the side. Fowler has a 33-10 lead.

Maddie Munley hits a layup for Sacred Heart. Carly Andros passes to Taylor Weber, who hits a three point shot from the wing for Fowler. Sacred Heart misses a three pointer from the free throw elbow. Kelsey McDonald gets the offensive rebound for the Irish. Sacred Heart misses a twelve foot shot in the lane. Maddie Munley draws a charging foul from the Eagles. Sacred Heart misses a fifteen foot shot from the side. A Fowler traveling violation negates an Eagle layup. Carly Andros knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart; Mia Riley grabs the ball and relays it to Emma Riley, who hits a fast break layup to push the Fowler lead to 38-12.

Delaney Scully passes to Maddie Munley for an Irish layup. Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Madison Wirth gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. Carly Andros gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup just before the halftime buzzer.

At halftime, Fowler has a 38-14 lead.

Maddie Munley leads the Irish scoring at halftime with 5 points.

Emma Riley has 13 points for Fowler and Mia Riley has 9 points.

As there is no halftime entertainment, I’ll put up this hundred year old song from my You Tube channel to hopefully fill the void. (In case you need to use the restroom, it’s about four minutes long!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUieaBvS38w

Fowler has the ball to open the third quarter. Carly Andros bounces a pass to Emma Riley, who hits a layup for the Eagles. Avery Koenigsknecht steals an Irish pass. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the side. Sacred Heart misses a threeball from the wing. Fowler misses a threeball from the corner. Kelsey McDonald hits a three point shot from the wing for Sacred Heart. Emma Riley drives and is fouled on a layup. She hits one of her two free throws to give Fowler a 41-17 lead with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Mia Riley knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart, but Laura Goenner saves it for the Irish. Emma Riley knocks the ball out of bounds; Sacred Heart retains possession. The Irish miss a three point attempt from the wing. Emma Riley uses some fantastic dribble moves to get to the basket for a layup. She is fouled and hits two free throws to push the Eagle lead to 43-17 with 5:20 to go in the third period.

Mia Riley gets her hand on the ball and causes an Irish traveling violation. Fowler misses a reverse layup. Avery Koenigsknecht hauls down the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Avery Koenigsknecht passes to Mia Riley, who is fouled on a layup and makes one of her two free throws for Fowler. Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball and passes to Emma Riley, who is fouled on a layup. Emma Riley hits two free throws to give Fowler a 46-17 lead with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

Kelsey McDonald is fouled on a twelve foot shot in the lane and hits two free throws for Sacred Heart. Grace Epkey cuts to the basket; Emma Riley passes to her and she hits a layup for the Eagles. Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball and passes to Carly Andros for an Eagle fast break layup. Emma Riley knocks the ball out of bounds to stop an Irish layup; Sacred Heart retains possession. Mia Riley steals the ball and is fouled on a fast break layup. She makes two free throws to give Fowler a 52-19 lead with 2:45 to go in the quarter.

Delaney Scully hits a jumper off the dribble from the free throw line for Sacred Heart. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. Delaney Scully passes to Maddie Munley, who is fouled on a ten foot shot in the lane and hits two free throws for the Irish. Mia Riley saves a bad pass to prevent an Eagle turnover; she knocks the ball off an Irish player and it goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball back. Kelsey McDonald steals the Eagle inbound pass. Kelsey McDonald passes to Delaney Scully, who hits a layup for the Irish to shave the Eagle lead to 52-25.

Mia Riley drives and scoops in a left-handed layup for Fowler. Grace Epkey steals an Irish pass. Fowler misses a fast break layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball back. Fowler misses a jump shot from the free throw elbow. A Sacred Heart pass into the lane goes out of bounds. Mia Riley is fouled with 4.5 seconds to play in the quarter and hits two free throws for Fowler. Avery Koenigsknecht nearly steals the Sacred Heart inbound pass. The Irish are not able to shoot before the third quarter buzzer makes its presence known.

After three quarters, Fowler holds a 56-25 lead.

Fowler inbounds the ball to get the fourth period underway. Delaney Scully steals the ball for the Irish. Madison Wirth knocks a Sacred Heart pass out of bounds to prevent a layup; the Irish retain possession. Sacred Heart misses a threeball from the corner. Fowler misses a driving layup. A Sacred Heart pass into the lane is too high and sails out of bounds. Fowler misses a three point shot from the side. Grace Epkey hits a putback to push the Fowler lead to 58-25.

Sacred Heart misses a three point shot from the side. Mia Riley passes to Taylor Weber, who hits a layup for Fowler. Sacred Heart misses a jump shot from the free throw elbow. Grace Epkey hits a fast break layup to extend the Eagle lead to 62-25.

Sacred Heart misses a jump shot from the free throw line. Delaney Scully pulls down the offensive rebound for the Irish. Sacred Heart misses a layup. Fowler misses a threeball from the top of the key. Mia Riley gets the offensive rebound for Fowler. Fowler misses a three pointer from the top of the key. Sacred Heart steals the ball. Emma Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Delaney Scully steals the ball for Sacred Heart. The Bleacher Denizen has to decide whether to continue taking notes or to report this on-court crime wave to the authorities. (Taking notes wins out.)

Emma Riley blocks an Irish ten foot shot in the lane. Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Emma Riley steals the ball and hits a left handed reverse layup on the right side of the basket. (As difficult as that was, it’s what she had to do to get the shot up.) Emma Riley knocks the ball away from Sacred Heart and Grace Epkey picks it up for the Eagles. Grace Epkey passes to Emma Riley, who hits a layup to give Fowler a 66-25 lead.

Anna Terwilliger passes to Laura Goenner, who hits a layup for the Irish. Fowler misses a ten foot shot form the side. Delaney Scully passes to Maddie Munley, who hits a layup for the Irish, is fouled and hits her free throw. With 2:00 to play, Fowler has a 66-30 lead.

Laura Goenner steals a Fowler pass. Rebecca Smith gets her hand on an Irish pass; Sacred Heart loses the ball out of bounds. Lillie Laney knocks the ball away from Fowler and Eliza Pieratt picks it up for Sacred Heart. Rebecca Smith blocks an Irish threeball from the corner. Fowler runs out the clock.

Fowler wins 66-30 and advances to play Saginaw Nouvel in Thursday’s Regional Final.

Maddie Munley led the Irish scoring with 10 points. Kelsey McDonald scored 9 points. Delaney Scully added 7 points and Laura Goenner had 4 points.

Emma Riley scored 24 points to lead Fowler’s scoring. Mia Riley joined her sister in double figures with 16 points. Taylor Weber and Grace Epkey each chipped in with 8 points. Carly Andros tossed in 4 points. Avery Koenigsknecht and Madison Wirth each added 3 points.

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