Vestaburg vs. Fulton – – MHSAA Boys Regional Semifinal – – The Bleacher Denizen – – March 14, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

The Bleacher Denizen was not able to do games because of a medical condition that sidelined him. He is happy to tell you that while he is not completely back yet, he has made a last minute decision to brave the drive from Lansing to Mt. Pleasant to watch the Fulton Pirates play the Vestaburg Wolverines play a regional semifinal at the Sacred Heart gym.

In the night’s first game, Saginaw Nouvel earned a spot in the Regional Final with a 58-43 victory over Hillman. I only saw the fourth quarter, but Nouvel’s young team held on and Hillman trailed by at least ten or more points the entire fourth quarter. (Nouvel played five players the fourth quarter; I don’t know if that was the starting lineup. The five players included two sophomores, two juniors and a senior.)

I was able to get scoring totals for the game. Trenton Taratuta led the Hillman scoring with 32 points. Landen Timm added 9 points and Sean Henigan tallied 2 points.

Jonathon Tunney, the post player who appeared to be the only senior who played in the fourth quarter (I did not take careful notes) led the Nouvel scoring with 23 points. Donald Yeager supported him with with 17 points including at least a couple big three pointers in the fourth quarter to help hold Hillman off. Mark Yeager chipped in with 8 points. Matthew Garcia scored 6 points and Maxwell Hammis added 4 points.

The Vestaburg Wolverines enter tonight’s game with a 14-9 record. Brennen Avery is a tough perimeter defender who can hit the three point shot. Hayden Palmer, and Keegan Beetly also provide their team with strong three point shooting and sticky perimeter defense. Jaylin Maddox and Levi Halliwill defend the post well and are strong rebounders. Cole Dailey is a “glue guy” who sets picks, defends well all over the floor and runs the point for the Wolverines. Landon Arntz gives Vestaburg another threat from the three point line. Thanks to Wolverine Coach Ty Warcinsky for providing this information! (He did not know I was coming to the game until the last minute.)

Fulton’s Pirates enter the game with a 12-ll record. Joey Iung is a tremendous athlete who defends well anywhere on the floor and is a good rebounder. On offense, he is a creative ball handler who is superlative at contorting his body to free himself for shots (that he makes) that most other players could not take (or make.) Bruce Thelen is a classic point guard who defends the perimeter with gusto, handles and passes the ball well and can hit the three point shot. He is also a threat to slash to the basket for layups.

Zach Saller is a tall player who is athletic enough to defend in the post or on the perimeter. He has an accurate three point shot and is good at catching passes in the lane and converting them into layups. Xander Ramsey is a solid ball handler who makes good decisions and can hit the three point shot. Walker Eyer is a tough post defender who rebounds well and draws a lot of charging fouls from Fulton’s opponents.

Renn Spalding and Dezmond Blair are strong defenders in the post who rebound well. Jadon Podolak is a fine perimeter defender who has a fine three point shot and is a dependable ball handler.

It is now time to review the events of this game through the grizzled eyes of a Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league back when he attempted to play basketball in the medieval times when at least some people considered him to be young. His career was severely affected when he found out that the basketball powers that be would not allow him to use a siege catapult to launch his three point shots. Who knows what might have been?

Fulton wins the opening tap. Bruce Thelen passes to Joe Iung, who hits a three point shot from the top of the key to give the Pirates the first three points of the game. Bruce Thelen knocks the ball away from the Wolverines, but Vestaburg recovers. Vestaburg misses a ten foot shot from the baseline. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fulton takes possession. The Pirates misfire on a threeball from the top of the key and Joe Iung is fouled on a putback. Joe Iung hits one of his two free throws to give Fulton a 4-0 lead with 6:48 remaining in the first quarter.

Zach Saller kicks the ball out of bounds; Vestaburg retains possession. The Wolverines miss a layup. Hayden Palmer grabs the offensive rebound for Vestaburg. The Wolverines miss a jump shot from the free throw line and foul on the rebound. Joe Iung passes to Bruce Thelen, who throws in a threeball from the top of the key to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead.

Vestaburg misses a fourteen foot shot from the wing. Jaylin Maddox fights hard for the rebound; the ball goes out and Vestaburg gets another opportunity. Walker Eyer draws a charging foul from the Wolverines. Joe Iung drives and dishes the ball to Walker Eyer, who hits a layup for the Pirates. Bruce Thelen steals the ball and passes to Joe Iung for a Fulton layup that boosts their lead to 11-0.

Vestaburg misfires on a triple try from the corner. Fulton misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out and Fulton gets another opportunity. Fulton misses a jumper off the dribble from the free throw line. Bruce Thelen pulls down the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Fulton misses a three point shot from the the wing and Vestaburg fouls on the rebound. Hayden Palmer purloins the Pirate inbound pass.

Jaylin Maddox hits a ten foot shot in the lane to give Vestaburg its first points. Joe Iung passes to Bruce Thelen, who hits a three point shot from the top of the key for the Pirates. Bruce Thelen knocks the ball out of bounds; Vestaburg retains possession. The Wolverines lose the ball out of bounds. Joe Iung hits a fifteen foot lean back shot off the dribble for Fulton to boost the Pirate lead to 16-2.

Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the side. Keegan Beetly grabs the offensive rebound for the Wolverines. Joe Iung steals a pass and is fouled on a fast break layup. he hits one of his two free throws to give his Pirates a 17-2 lead with 1:42 left in the first quarter.

Xander Ramsey knocks the ball away from the Wolverines and causes a scramble for the ball which is ended when the Pirates foul. Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the corner. Jaylin Maddox blocks a Pirate ten foot shot in the lane. Fulton fouls trying to retrieve the loose ball. Vestaburg misses a three pointer from the wing and gets the offensive rebound. Vestaburg misses a triple try from the corner.

Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Walker Eyer gets the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Fulton misses a driving layup. Dezmond Blair pulls down the offensive rebound for the Pirates and passes to Jaden Podolak, who throws in a threeball from the corner as the first quarter buzzer makes its presence known.

After one quarter, Fulton has a 20-2 lead.

Vestaburg inbounds the ball to start the second quarter. The Wolverines miss a three point shot from the wing. Brennen Avery hits a putback for Vestaburg. Joe Iung hits an eight foot lean back jumper from the wing for the Pirates. Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the wing. Fulton travels on a drive into the lane. Brennen Avery passes to Hayden Palmer, who hits a three point shot from the side to trim the Pirate lead to 22-7.

Fulton misses a three point shot from the corner. Xander Ramsey gets the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Fulton misses a three point shot from the wing; the rebound goes out of bounds and Vestaburg takes possession. Hayden Palmer gets into the lane and hits a ten footer in the lane for Vestaburg. Fulton misses a three point shot from the wing. Walker Eyer fights for the offensive rebound; the ball goes out of bounds and Fulton gets it back. Hayden Palmer steals the ball for Vestaburg and is fouled on a fast break layup. He hits two free throws to trim the Pirate lead to 22-11 with 4:57 to play in the first half.

Fulton misses a three point shot from the wing. Hayden Palmer is fouled and hits one of two free throws in a one and one opportunity for Vestaburg. Jaylin Maddox grabs the offensive rebound for the Wolverines and is fouled on a putback. He hits one of his two free throws for Vestaburg. With 4:18 to go in the half, Fulton’s lead is down to 22-13.

Fulton is whistled for a traveling violation. Joe Iung steals the ball for Fulton. The Pirates are fouled and miss the first shot of a one and one opportunity. Walker Eyer hits the floor to secure the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Xander Ramsey passes to Joe Iung, who hits a twelve foot shot in the lane and is fouled. He makes his free throw to give Fulton a 25-13 lead with 3:02 left in the half.

Joe Iung ties up the ball. The Possession Arrow’s panel of culinary experts rules that Vestaburg will get the ball back. Hayden Palmer hits a three point shot from the side for the Wolverines. Fulton misses a three point shot from the top of the key. Jadon Podolak knocks the ball away from the Wolverines and Dezmond Blair dives to tie up the ball for the Pirates.

The Possession Arrow and its band of culinary experts take their experimental cake out of the oven and award the ball to Fulton. Cole Dailey steals the ball for the Wolverines. Vestaburg misses a layup; Joe Iung blocks a Wolverine putback; the ball goes out of bounds and Vestaburg gets it back. Hayden Palmer passes to Levi Halliwill, who hits a fifteen foot shot from the baseline to slice the Fulton lead to less than ten points at 27-18.

Xander Ramsey hits a three point shot from the corner for the Pirates. Joe Iung steals the ball and hits a fast break left handed layup for the Pirates. Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and the Pirates get the ball. Fulton misses a threeball from the side at the buzzer.

Fulton has a 32-18 lead at halftime.

Joe Iung has 18 points for the Pirates at halftime and Bruce Thelen has 6 points.

Hayden Palmer has 11 points to lead the Wolverine halftime scoring.

As there is no halftime entertainment, I’ll offer up this original song from my “Chuck Krafft” You Tube page.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol3R-ZL9568

Vestaburg inbounds the ball to get the third quarter underway. The Wolverines miss a threeball from the corner; the rebound goes out of bounds and the Pirates take possession. Fulton misses a three point shot from the wing; the rebound goes out of bounds and Vestaburg gets the ball. Hayden Palmer passes to Brennen Avery, who hits a three point shot from the wing to shave the Fulton lead to 32-21.

Levi Halliwill steals a Pirate pass. Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the corner. Joe Iung blocks a Wolverine putback and is able to secure the ball for the Pirates. Fulton misses a fast break layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and the Pirates get it back. Walker Eyer catches an inbound pass, spins and hits a layup for Fulton to give the Pirates a 34-21 lead.

On the other end, Walker Eyer draws a charging foul from the Wolverines. Fulton misses a three point shot from the corner. Bruce Thelen pulls down the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Walker Eyer grabs the offensive rebound for Fulton. Fulton misses a threeball from the corner and fouls on the rebound. Joe Iung steals the ball, but Fulton loses a pass out of bounds. Cole Dailey lobs the ball to Brennen Avery, who hits a layup to trim the Pirate lead to 34-23.

Fulton misses a layup and fouls on the rebound. Jaylin Maddox passes to Brennen Avery, who is fouled on a layup and hits two free throws for Vestaburg. With 4:07 to go in the third quarter, Fulton has a 34-25 lead.

Bruce Thelen passes to Jadon Podolak, who swishes an eight foot shot from the side for the Pirates. Jadon Podolak and Walker Eyer team up to force a Vestaburg traveling violation. Fulton reciprocates by traveling on a drive to the basket. Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the side; the rebound goes out of bounds and Vestaburg gets another possession. Bruce Thelen draws an offensive foul from the Wolverines on the inbound pass.

Fulton loses a pass out of bounds. Vestaburg misfires on a threeball from the top of the key. Fulton misses a three point shot from the corner. Walker Eyer gets the offensive rebound for the Pirates. Fulton misses a three point shot from the side. Vestaburg reciprocates and misses a three point shot from the side. Bruce Thelen passes to Xander Ramsey, who banks in a six foot shot for the Pirates to extend their lead to 38-25.

Levi Halliwill drives and hits a six foot shot in the lane for the Wolverines. Bruce Thelen passes to Joe Iung for a Pirate layup. Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the side; the rebound goes out of bounds and Fulton takes possession. Hayden Palmer knocks a Pirate pass out of bounds; Fulton retains possession. Fulton turns the ball over on a five second closely guarded violation. (Your aging Bleacher Denizen did not think to note which Wolverine made this fine defensive play and apologizes.) Joe Iung stelas the ball for Fulton. Landon Arntz gets back quickly to foul Joe Iung to force him to earn his two points at the free throw line. Joe Iung hits two free throws with .1 of a second remaining to boost the Pirates to a 42-27 lead.

Vestaburg has no time to shoot the ball. Fulton enters the fourth quarter holding a 42-27 lead.

Fulton inbounds the ball to start the fourth quarter. Brennen Avery steals the ball for the Wolverines. Vestaburg is fouled on a fast break layup, but misses two free throws. Joe Iung passes to Xander Ramsey, who hits a three point shot from the corner for the Pirates. Jadon Podolak steals the ball for Fulton. Joe Iung executes a fantastic dribble move to draw the defense so he can pass to Xander Ramsey, who hits a three point shot from the corner to give the Pirates a 48-27 lead.

Vestaburg misses a threeball from the corner. Fulton misses a threeball from the side. Zach Saller tips the offensive rebound to a Pirate teammate. Bruce Thelen passes to Zach Saller, who hits a three pointer from the corner to boost the Pirate lead to 51-27.

Vestaburg misses a three point shot from the side. Fulton commits an offensive foul. Vestaburg misfires on a threeball from the side. Levi Halliwill pulls down the offensive rebound for the Wolverines. Jadon Podolak steals the ball for the Pirates. Fulton misses a driving layup. Vestaburg is fouled, but misses the first shot of a one and one opportunity. The Wolverines foul on the rebound. Cole Dailey steals the ball and hits a layup. Fulton’s lead is at 51-29.

Vestaburg commits its sixth foul of the half; the next time the foul, Fulton will have to shoot free throws. Bruce Thelen is fouled and hits one of two free throws in a one and one opportunity for the Pirates. Vestaburg misses a layup. Joe Iung is fouled and hits two free throws (one and one) for Fulton. Levi Halliwill hits a driving layup for the Wolverines; he fouled on the play, but misses his free throw. With 2:10 to play, the Fulton lead is at 53-29.

The rebound from the missed free throw goes out of bounds and Fulton takes possession. Fulton is fouled, but misses two free throws. Levi Halliwill passes to Hayden Palmer, who hits a layup for Vestaburg; he is fouled on the play and makes his free throw. With 1:36 to go, Fulton has a 54-34 lead.

Fulton misses a layup. Markus Mills hits a putback for the Pirates. He is fouled on the play, but misses his free throw. Vestaburg misses a driving layup. Trevor Patch is fouled on a putback and hits two free throws for Vestaburg. Fulton is assessed with a traveling violation. Vestaburg misses a driving layup. Keegan Beetly gets fouled on a successful putback and misses his free throw. With 27.2 seconds left on the clock, Fulton has a 56-38 lead.

The rebound goes out of bounds and the Wolverines get the ball back. Waylon Leeuw passes to Keegan Beetly, who hits a three point shot from the side for Vestaburg. Fulton runs out the last few seconds left on the clock.

Fulton wins 56-41 and will face Saginaw Nouvel in Wednesday’s regional final. (The Bleacher Denizen will be there!)

Hayden Palmer led Vestaburg with 14 points. Brennen Avery supported him with 9 points. Levi Halliwill scored 6 points and Keegan Beetly scored 5 points. Jaylin Maddox tossed in 3 points. Cole Dailey and Trevor Patch each tallied 2 points.

Joe Iung led the victorious Pirates with 24 points. Xander Ramsey joined him in double figures with 11 points including two important three pointers early in the fourth quarter that made it almost impossible for Vestaburg to complete the comeback they started in the second quarter. Bruce Thelen added 7 points for the Pirates.

Jadon Podolak scored 5 points. Walker Eyer had 4 points. Zach Saller hit a threeball early in the fourth quarter during the run where Fulton put the game away for 3 points. Markus Mills added 2 points.

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