Gaylord St. Mary vs. Fowler – – Girls MHSAA Division 4 Quarterfinal – – The Bleacher Denizen – – March 15, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

Tonight, your Bleacher Denizen will try to counter illness and insomnia as he makes a trip to Clare to cover a Girls’ basketball quarterfinal. Regular readers who follow on Facebook know that I’ve been dealing with some illnesses this winter that have led to at least eight canceled games. As I have already missed Fowler’s Regional Final, I (possibly foolishly) made the drive to Clare to cover the Eagles’ quarterfinal. I love doing Fowler events; they are possibly the most enthusiastic of all the schools I deal with.

Tonight, Fowler’s Eagles enter the game with a 21-3 record. All three losses are to really tough teams. Portland St. Patrick plays in Fowler’s league and also had a super team. They had an undefeated season and accounted for two of the Eagle losses. The other was to Portland, a Division 2 defending champion who won their regional and was knocked out of the quarterfinal by Detroit Edison’s super team.)

The opponents are the Snowbirds from Gaylord St. Mary, who won their regional. This is a tremendous accomplishment of a school with only 69 students. The Snowbirds enter the game with a 22-2 record.

As the events I have noted above caused me to get off schedule, I was not able to get to the game as soon as I hoped. Thus, I was not able to get my usual background information from Coach Schultz. I got a bit of information about the team from a fan who had some knowledge of the team.

Basically, the Snowbirds play as fast as they can and try to shoot a lot of three point shots. The top three point shooters as far as he knew are Ava Schultz and Sydney Grusczynski. Other strong three point shooters are Macey Bebble, Emma McKinley and Kaylee Jeffers, who is an eighth grader allowed to play because of St. Mary’s student population size.

Tonight’s starters will be Bailey Murrell, Macey Bebble, Emma McKinley, Ava Schultz and Sydney Grusczynski.

My apologies to Coach Schultz; I simply was not able to get to the game in time to talk to you. I know you would have liked to give me more about what your players do well.

Fowler is led by returning all-staters Mia Riley and Emma Riley. They excel in all phases of the game and are adept at defending near the basket or out on the perimeter. They are really aggressive and cause a lot of steals and other turnovers. To differentiate them just a bit, while both of them are amazing, creative scorers, ball handlers and passers, Emma’s three point shot is a bigger part of her game. Mia is simply an amazing rebounder who has put her athletic ability to use and can overwhelm girls six inches taller for rebounds.

Grace Epkey is a strong rebounder and defender in the post. She scores a lot on putbacks and can hit three point shots when she finds herself open out there. The final two starters are Avery Koenigsknecht and Carly Andros, who are excellent perimeter defenders who cause their share of turnovers and can hit open three point shots as well. Given the attention defenses are required to give the Riley sisters, this is truly a problem for opposing teams.

Taylor Weber and Madison Wirth are usually the first substitutes to enter the game for Fowler. Both of them can hit the open three point shot. Both of them are also tough perimeter defenders; Madison Wirth also helps in the post when Grace Epkey is not in the game.

Now that we have introduced these teams, it is time to look at the results of this game through the aging eyes of a semi-healthy Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league back in the days of yore. Alas, while he enjoyed watching Yogi Bear steal many a picnic basket as a child (in cartoons from the days of yore), he learned that basketball teams defend their baskets far more aggressively. Thus, he was not able to either take food out of or put basketballs into the baskets he ran into in the church league.

The opening tap goes out of bounds; St. Mary takes possession. (To be fair, the ref did insist on it!) St. Mary misses a three point shot from the wing. Fowler misses a layup. Carly Andros pulls down the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler commits a traveling violation. St. Mary (a player on the team, actually, not the saint herself. COME ON!! This is not the same joke I make about St. Patrick. St. Mary is female after all.) OK, anyway, St. Mary misses a ten foot shot from the baseline.

Sydney Grusczynski ties up the rebound. The Possession Arrow’s culinary staff looks up from the souffle they are developing; they award the ball to St. Mary, at first. As they are distracted, it takes awhile, but they eventually give the ball to Fowler. A couple of the staff have unpleasant vibrations from the confusion that cause the souffle to fall. Fowler ignores the mess in the Possession Arrow’s kitchen and inbounds the ball. The Eagles misfire on a triple try from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Mary takes possession.

Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball for Fowler. Fowler misses a driving layup; Carly Andros snags the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. Ava Schultz throws in a threeball for the Snowbirds to give them a 3-0 lead.

Fowler misfires on a threeball from the corner; Mia Riley hits a putback for the Eagles. Mia Riley steals the Snowbird inbound pass. Fowler is whistled for a double dribble violation. Emma Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler turns the ball over. Avery Koenigsknecht knocks an outlet pass off a Snowbird player and out of bounds to get another possession for the Eagles. Emma Riley reacts quickly to save the Eagle inbound pass. Fowler misfires on a triple try from the top of the key. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Mary gets the ball.

St. Mary is whistled for carrying the ball. Sydney Gruscynski’s tough defense causes an Eagle dribbler to lose the ball out of bounds. Mia blocks a Snowbird three point shot from the wing. The ball goes out of bounds and St. Mary gets it back. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the wing. Ava Schultz gets the offensive rebound for the Snowbirds. Mia Riley knocks the ball out of bounds off a St. Mary player and Fowler gets the ball.

Ava Schultz steals the ball for St. Mary. The Snowbirds miss a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Mary gets another opportunity. Avery Koenigsknecht’s tight defense causes a Snowbird driver to travel in the lane. Kaylee Jeffers knocks an Eagle pass out of bounds; Fowler retains possession. Avery Koenigsknecht drives and dishes the ball to a teammate who is fouled on a layup. Fowler misses two free throws. With 4:12 to play in the first quarter, St. Mary has a 3-2 lead.

Mia Riley grabs the offensive rebound and is fouled on a layup after a short drive. She hits one of her two free throws for Fowler to tie the game. Carly Andros steals a Snowbird pass. Fowler misses a three point shot from the top of the key. Emma Riley nearly steals the ball, but steps on the sideline, so St. Mary gets it back. The Snowbirds miss a threeball from the wing. The Riley connection comes through for Fowler as Mia passes to sister Emma, who hits a threeball from the side to give Fowler a 6-3 lead.

The Snowbirds miss a jump shot. Grace Epkey drives from the side and hits a layup for Fowler. Emma Riley knocks the ball away from St. Mary and Avery Koenigsknecht picks it up for Fowler. Fowler is fouled on a fast break layup, but misses two free throws. Emma McKinley passes to Ava Schultz, who hits a three point shot from the top of the key to cut the Fowler lead to 8-6.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Mary gets the ball. The Snowbirds are fouled on a driving layup, but miss two free throws. (One of them was actually good, but was negated by a lane violation.) Fowler misses a fast break layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and the Eagles get another opportunity. Emma McKinley tips the ball away from Fowler, but the Eagles recover. Fowler misses a layup; Grace Epkey hits a putback to give the Eagles a 10-6 lead.

Mia Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Kaylee Jeffers knocks the ball away from Fowler and a St. Mary teammate picks the ball up. Fowler’s tight defense causes the Snowbirds to turn the ball over for failing to inbound the ball in five seconds. Macey Bebble blocks a Fowler layup. Mia Riley dives and steals the ball from the Snowbirds. Miriam Murrell knocks the ball out of bounds to stop a Fowler layup; the Eagles retain possession. Fowler misses a layup at the buzzer.

After one quarter, Fowler has a 10-6 lead.

Fowler has the ball to begin the second quarter. The Eagles are fouled on a driving layup and miss two free throws. Grace Epkey pulls down the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a three pointer from the top of the key. St. Mary misses a fast break driving banked shot. Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Mia Riley is fouled on a putback and hits two free throws to boost the Fowler lead to 12-6 with 7:17 to play in the second quarter.

Fowler steals the ball. (My apologies; this pace is faster than your bleary Bleacher Denizen can follow at times. I did not see who stole the ball for the Eagles.) However, I did see that Macey Bebble stole the ball for the Snowbirds. Avery Koenigsknecht blocks a Snowbird shot. Emma Riley throws a highlight behind the back pass (that was actually helpful in the situation – – not showing off) to Mia Riley, who hits a layup to give the Eagles a 14-6 lead.

St. Mary loses the ball out of bounds. Emma Riley takes the ball coast to coast for a Fowler layup. St. Mary misfires on a threeball from the corner. Fowler is fouled, but misses the first shot of a one and one free throw opportunity. Macey Bebble drives and dishes the ball to Ava Schultz, who is fouled on a three pointer from the corner. Ava Schultz hits two of her three free throws to trim the Fowler lead to 16-8 with 5:50 to play in the corner.

Emma McKinley steals the ball for the Snowbirds. The ball gets knocked loose; Emma McKinley and Fowler’s Taylor Weber tie up the ball. The Possession Arrow’s culinary staff interrupts its strudel baking session and determines that the Snowbirds shall get the ball back. St. Mary misses a driving layup. Macey Bebble steals the ball for the Snowbirds and draws a foul in the process.

Emma Riley blocks a Snowbird layup; Ava Schultz recovers the loose ball for St. Mary. The Snowbirds miss a three point attempt from the corner. Taylor Weber is fouled and makes both shots in a one and one opportunity to give the Eagles an 18-8 lead with 4:12 left in the first half.

St. Mary misses a three point shot from the side. Avery Koenigsknecht is fouled on the rebound and hits two free throws for Fowler. St. Mary drives the baseline and misses a layup. Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Taylor Weber is fouled on a layup and hits one of her two free throws to push the Fowler lead to 21-8 with 3:23 to play in the half.

Madison Wirth ties up the ball for the Eagles. The Possession Arrow quickly decides to give the ball to Fowler so they can get the strudel out of the oven before it burns. A Fowler driver loses the ball out of bounds. St. Mary misses a three pointer from the wing. Fowler misses a threeball from the side. Taylor Weber is fouled on the rebound and hits one of her two free throws to give Fowler a 22-8 lead with 3:29 remaining in the first half.

Emma Riley blocks a Snowbird three pointer from the side; the ball goes out of bounds and Fowler takes possession. Emma McKinley steals the ball for the Snowbirds. St. Mary misses a layup. Ava Schultz steals an Eagle pass. Carly Andros knocks the ball out of bounds, but St. Mary gets it back. Carly Andros stands tall in the lane and causes a Snowbird dribbler to lose the ball out of bounds. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the corner. The rebound goes out of bounds and St. Mary gets the ball.

Taylor Weber defends a Snowbird dribbler and causes a traveling violation. Taylor Weber passes to Emma Riley, who hits a three point shot for the Eagles. St. Mary misses a ten foot banked shot from the side. Bailey Morrell bolts back to terminate a Fowler fast break by knocking the ball out of bounds. Fowler gets the ball back and misses a three pointer from the wing. Carly Andros gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler throws a pass out of bounds with 2.9 seconds to go. St. Mary misses a half court heave at the buzzer.

Fowler has a 25-8 halftime lead.

Ava Schultz has scored all the Snowbird points; she has 8 at halftime.

Mia Riley has 8 and Emma Riley has 7 points for Fowler.

As there is no halftime entertainment, here is an original religious song from my CD and “Chuck Krafft” You Tube Channel! It’s an original song about John 3:16 where my father helped me write the lyrics. My friend, Keith Minaya, who is one of the finest guitarists in Lansing wails on this one! (Someday, we will post a video where you can see us playing!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VZVsmJwchY

St. Mary has the ball to begin the third quarter. The Snowbirds mislaunch a three point shot from the wing. Avery Koenigsknecht hits a fast break layup for the Eagles. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the corner. Macey Bebble steals the ball for the Snowbirds. St. Mary turns the ball over. Bailey Murrell steals the ball for the Snowbirds and passes to Ava Schultz, who hits a three point shot to trim the Fowler lead to 27-11.

Fowler misses a three pointer from the corner and fouls on the rebound. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the wing. Emma McKinley ties up the ball; the Possession Arrow’s culinary staff is busy with their delicate latticed pie crust and forget to watch the replay; the ball is awarded back to Fowler. In a moment of karma, all three of the Three Stooges burst into the cooking lab and you can imagine what happened to the latticed crust and the pie underneath it. Fowler worries not about the culinary staff’s karma as Grace Epkey puts back a missed seventeen footer from the wing to give the Eagles a 29-11 lead.

Emma Riley knocks the ball away from the Snowbirds and Avery Koenigsknecht picks it up for the Eagles. Avery Koenigsknecht gives the ball back to Emma Riley, who hits a layup for Fowler. St. Mary turns the ball over. Emma Riley passes to Mia Riley, who hits a layup to give Fowler a 33-11 lead.

Avery Koenigsknecht knocks the ball away from St. Mary, but the Snowbirds are able to recover. St. Mary misses a driving layup. Mia Riley hits a fast break layup for Fowler. St. Mary misses a threeball from the wing. Ava Schultz gets the offensive rebound for St. Mary. The Snowbirds miss a jump shot. Mia Riley drives, fakes and scoops in a layup to give Fowler a 27-11 lead.

Mia Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Macey Bebble steals the ball for the Snowbirds. Bailey Murrell is fouled on a layup and hits one of two free throws for the Snowbirds. Ava Schultz gets the offensive rebound and is fouled on a putback. She hits two free throws for St. Mary. With 4:15 to play in the third quarter, Fowler has a 37-14 lead.

Mia Riley takes the ball coast to coast for a Fowler layup. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler misses a fast break layup. Mia Riley steals the ball for Fowler and is fouled on a fast break layup. She hits one of her two free throws to boost Fowler to a 40-14 lead with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter.

Mia Riley knocks the ball away from St. Mary, but the Snowbirds recover. Bailey Murrell drives and hits a layup for St. Mary. Fowler misses a three point shot from the corner. Mia Riley drives and hits a layup; she is fouled and her made free throw gives the Eagles a 43-16 lead with 2:54 to play in third quarter.

St. Mary misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler misses a sixteen foot shot from the baseline. Emma McKinney saves a bad pass to prevent a Snowbird turnover. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball. Taylor Weber passes to Emma Riley, who hits a three point shot to give Fowler a 46-16 lead.

Taylor Weber steals the ball for Fowler. Ava Schultz steals the ball for the Snowbirds. St. Mary misses a fifteen foot shot from the side. The rebound is tied up. The culinary staff and the Possession Arrow are on a break; they see the play and award the ball to St. Mary. Emma Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Mia Riley passes to Avery Koenigsknecht, who hits a layup for the Eagles and Fowler has a 48-16 lead.

St. Mary is called for traveling. (Again, this is one of the Snowbird players, not the saint, herself.) Emma McKinley steals the ball for the Snowbirds. St. Mary misses a layup. Miriam Murrell gets the offensive rebound for St. Mary. The Snowbirds miss a three point attempt from the corner. Fowler is whistled for a traveling violation.

Bailey Murrell hits a driving layup for St. Mary. Madison Wirth hits a layup for Fowler. St. Mary misses a jump shot. Ava Schultz hits a putback for St. Mary at the buzzer.

Fowler enters the fourth quarter with a 50-20 lead.

Fowler has the ball to start the fourth quarter. The Eagles miss a ten foot shot in the lane and foul on the rebound. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the corner. Fowler misses a fast break layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and the Eagles get another opportunity. Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Madison Wirth gets the offensive rebound; Fowler misses a layup. Taylor Weber gets the offensive rebound; Fowler turns the ball over.

St. Mary misses a threeball from the wing. Fowler loses a pass out of bounds. St. Mary misses a driving layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball. Avery Koenigsknecht bounces a ball to Emma Riley, who hits a layup for the Eagles. Macey Bebble is fouled on a driving layup and hits one of her two free throws for the Eagles. With 6:08 left on the clock, Fowler’s lead is at 52-21.

Fowler misses a layup. Carly Andros hits the floor to secure the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a three point shot from the side. Madison Wirth’s tough defense forces a Snowbird traveling violation. A Fowler pass into the lane goes out of bounds. St. Mary misses a driving layup. Macy Bebble and Sydney Grusczynski force a tie up.

The Possession Arrow interrupts his culinary lecture and gives the ball to St. Mary. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the corner. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball. Carly Andros goes coast to coast to hit a layup for Fowler. St. Mary misses a three pointer from the wing. Macey Bebble gets the offensive rebound for the Snowbirds. Emma Riley hits a fast break layup to boost the Fowler lead to 56-21.

St. Mary misses a three point shot from the corner. Macey Bebble steals the ball for the Snowbirds. St. Mary misses a layup. Fowler reciprocates and misses a layup. Taylor Webber steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a fast break layup. Fowler gets the offensive rebound, but a charging foul negates a layup. St. Mary misses a three point shot from the wing. Bailey Murrell gets the offensive rebound for the Snowbirds. St. Mary is fouled on a layup, but misses two free throws. With 3:29 to play, Fowler has a 56-21 lead.

Miriam Murrell ties up the ball for the Snowbirds. The Possession Arrow polls its culinary staff, who are huddled around a kettle flavoring a soup and miss the play. The ball is awarded back to the Eagles. Macey Bebble ties up the ball; as the soup is now perfectly seasoned, they see the play and properly award the ball to the Snowbirds.

St. Mary is fouled on a driving layup, but misses two free throws. Miriam Murrell dives and causes a tie up. As the soup pot is overboiling, the culinary staff is preoccupied and misses the play; the ball is awarded to the Eagles. Fowler misses a fast break layup. Bailey Murrell drives from the side to hit a layup for St. Mary. Fowler is whistled for a traveling violation. Emma McKinley drives and dishes the ball to Ava Schultz, who hits a three pointer from the corner. Fowler’s lead is now at 56-26.

Brianna Halfmann hits a layup for Fowler. St. Mary misses a layup. The rebound is tied up and the Possession Arrow, who has dismissed the culinary staff for the day, awards the ball to St. Mary. Madison Wirth gets her hand on a Snowbird pass; the ball goes out of bounds and Fowler takes possession. Fowler commits and over and back violation. St. Mary misses a three pointer from the top of the key. The rebound is tied up and Fowler gets the ball. Fowler runs out the clock.

Fowler wins the game 58-26. They will play Baraga in Thursday’s semifinal game at the Breslin Center on Michigan State’s campus.

St. Mary showed incredible fight; they never stopped hustling and defending the entire game. Well-earned Kudos to the Snowbirds!

Ava Schultz led the St. Mary scoring with 18 points. Bailey Murrell added 7 points and Macey Bebble tallied 1 points.

Emma Riley and Mia Riley each had 18 points to lead the Fowler offensive attack. Avery Koenigsknecht and Grace Epkey each chipped in with 6 points. Taylor Weber scored 4 points. Carly Andros, Brianne Halfmann and Madison Wirth each had 2 points.

Previous Article
Next Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.