Fowler vs. Baraga – – MHSAA Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal – – The Bleacher Denizen – – March 17, 2022 – – by Chuck Krafft

After a trip to Clare to cover the quarterfinals, your Bleacher Denizen’s coverage of the Fowler Eagles Girls Basketball team takes him to the Breslin Center, which is just about fifteen minutes from the Bleacher Denizen’s home in south Lansing. I guess for such a short trip, I won’t even try to muse about getting to call it an Odyssey! Today’s opponent will be the Vikings from Baraga.

It was a nice trip today; the Bleacher Denizen even had time to stop by Leo’s Lodge to get his traditional corned beef and cabbage plate! YUM!! Then it was time to relearn the procedure for getting to the gym floor as well as relearn how to use the laptop that only gets used when I do blogs from remote places. So far, the Bleacher Denizen is winning the battle with the computer for control, but you never know – – – . In this game, the game ain’t over ’til the blog is typed!!

Baraga enters the game with a 23-1 record. Thanks to the MHSAA Second Half Publication, we have the following background about the Viking players. Reide Osterman is the leading scorer. She averages 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 6.7 steals per game. Cori Jahfetson scores 13.8 points per game to go along with 3.5 assists. So far this year, Cori Jahfetson has pitched in 62 three point baskets. Makenna Hendrickson averages 8.4 points.

I don’t have statistics for Fowler, but they would probably not really tell the whole story about the Eagles. So much of the Eagle game is based on teamwork and defensive effort.

Mia Riley and her sister Emma Riley are returning all-state players from Fowler, who won the Division 4 Championship last year. They are extremely energetic, motivated defenders who can create a turnover from anyone any time. On offense, they have an encyclopedia of slick dribble moves and shots that they can use to attack any defender. Both are fine rebounders; Mia will amaze you with her ability to get a rebound from any opponent, no matter how tall she is. Both are also strong outside shooters; Emma is especially tough from outside.

Avery Koenigsknecht and Carly Andros start on the perimeter for the Eagles. They are committed defenders who can hit the open three point shot or finish on the fast break when the Fowler Press presents them with opportunities. Grace Epkey, who starts in the post is a tough rebounder and defender. When circumstances require her to defend on the perimeter, she has the quickness and athletic ability to handle that as well. She is able to get a lot of putbacks, but she can also hit the three point shot when her team needs it.

Taylor Weber is a fine perimeter defender who can hit the three point shot. Madison Wirth is a versatile defender who can help out in the post or defend on the perimeter. She also can hit the three point shot.

I guess it is time to start reviewing the events of this game from the eager, if blurry eyes of an aging Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league when he attempted to play basketball in the days of yesteryear. He had some potential as a dunker, but then the basketball powers that be raised the basket from four feet to ten feet and it was all over – – –

Baraga wins the opening tap. The Vikings miss a layup. Fowler misfires on a triple try from the side. The rebound goes out of bounds and Baraga gets the ball. Baraga misses a driving layup. Fowler misses a layup. Grace Epkey pulls down the offensive rebound for Fowler. The Eagles miss a layup. Mia Riley steals the ball for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. Baraga fouls on the rebound.

Reide Osterman steals the ball for the Vikings. Grace Epkey ties the ball up. The Possession Arrow looks up from its board game and quickly awards the ball to the Eagles. Fowler misses a ten footer in the lane. Grace Epkey pulls down the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Cori Jahfetson knocks a Fowler pass out of bounds. Fowler gets the ball back. Fowler misses a layup; Mia Riley hits a putback to give Fowler the first two points of the game.

Baraga loses a pass out of bounds. Fowler misses a layup. Baraga reciprocates and misses a layup. Jaycee Larson pulls down the offensive rebound for the Vikings. Baraga misses a jump shot. Makenna Hendrickson is fouled on a putback and hits two free throws to tie the game at 2-2 with 4:33 to play in the first quarter.

Mia Riley drives and hits a layup for Fowler to retake the lead. Avery Koenigsknecht steals the ball for the Eagles and draws a foul in the process. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. Fowler misfires on a threeball from the wing. Mia gets the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. Grace Epkey is fouled on putback and hits one of her two free throws to give the Eagles a 5-2 lead with 3:49 left in the quarter.

Cori Jahfetson is fouled on a jump shot from the side and hits two free throws for the Vikings. Reide Osterman steals the ball for Baraga. Baraga misses a six foot hook shot in the lane. Reide Osterman steals the ball for Baraga. Baraga misses a six foot hook in the lane. Baraga misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler takes possession. Carly Andros is fouled on a driving layup and hits one of her two free throws. With 2:32 left in the first period, Fowler has a 6-4 lead.

Carly Andros steals a Viking pass. Mia Riley drives from the side and hits a layup for Fowler. Emma Riley knocks the ball away from Baraga and Mia Riley picks it up for Fowler. The Riley Connection kicks in as Mia Riley passes to Emma Riley for a Fowler layup. Baraga misses a driving layup. Mia Riley is fouled on a threeball from the wing and hits two of her free throws to boost Fowler to a 12-4 lead with 55 seconds to play in the period.

Emma Riley knocks the ball away from Baraga and Taylor Weber picks it up for Fowler. Taylor Weber passes to Mia Riley, who hits a fast break layup for the Eagles. Avery Koenigsknecht causes a Viking pass catcher to lose the ball out of bounds. Fowler misses a driving layup. Mia Riley pulls down the offensive rebound as she is falling to the floor and passes to Avery Koenigsknecht, who hits a three point shot for the Eagles at the buzzer.

After one quarter, Fowler has a 17-4 lead.

Fowler inbounds the ball to begin the second quarter. The Eagles misfire on a triple try from the wing. Emma Riley knocks the ball out of bounds; Baraga retains possession. Cori Jahfetson makes a fake, takes a hard dribble and swishes a threeball from the side for Baraga. Reide Osterman steals the ball for the Vikings. Baraga misses a fast break layup. Emma Riley passes to a teammate who is fouled on a fast break layup and misses two free throws. With 7:00 to play in the first half, the Fowler lead is at 17-7.

Emma Riley steals the ball and passes to Mia Riley for a fast break layup. Baraga misses a layup. The rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler gets the ball. Autumn Tembreull steals an Eagle pass. Baraga misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler loses the ball out of bounds. It rolls to the Bleacher Denizen and nudges his foot before a Baraga player grabs it and hands it to the referee. (Mere Bleacher Denizen’s are best not trusted with the game ball!)

Baraga misses a layup and several putbacks. Makenna Hendrickson is fouled on a putback and hits two free throws to trim the Fowler led to 19-9 with 5:10 remaining in the first half.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Taylor Weber hits a putback for the Eagles. Reide Osterman drives and hits a layup for the Vikings. She is fouled on the play and makes her free throw. Fowler misses a twelve foot shot from the side of the lane. Baraga is whistled for a traveling violation. Fowler misses a fourteen foot shot in the lane. Mia Riley steals the ball and hits a fast break layup to give her Eagles a 23-12 lead.

Madison Wirth ties up the ball; the Possession Arrow misses the play because it is looking for missing game piece that fell on the floor. Baraga is awarded the ball. Emma Riley knocks the ball away from Baraga and Mia Riley picks it up for Fowler. Kinsei Jahfetson steals a Fowler pass. Mia Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Emma Riley is fouled on a fast break layup and hits two free throws to give Fowler a 25-12 lead with 2:38 remaining in the half.

Reide Osterman goes coast to coast for a Viking layup. Fowler is whistled for a traveling violation. Baraga misses a three point shot from the corner. Fowler is fouled, but misses the first shot of a one and one free throw opportunity. Baraga misses a layup. Reide Osterman pulls down the offensive rebound for the Vikings. She passes to Jaycee Larson who hits a mystery ball from the side. (It was given two points at the time it was shot, changed to three points at halftime and put back to two points sometime in the third quarter.) Fowler has a 25-16 lead (or 25-17 depending on how many points are given for the shot; we’ll go with two because that’s how things ended up.)

Fowler misses a three point shot from the wing. Makenna Hendrickson is fouled and makes both free throws in a one and one opportunity for Baraga. Fowler misses a driving runner. Baraga misfires on a triple try from the top of the key. Mia Riley passes to Emma Riley, who hits a three point shot from the side for Fowler to give the Eagles a 28-18 lead.

Emma Riley knocks the ball away from a Baraga dribbler and out of bounds; the Vikings retain possession. Fowler’s fans loudly chant 5-4-3-2-1 and induce Baraga to shoot early just before halftime. Baraga misses that jumper and Makenna Hendrickson gets the offensive rebound for the Vikings. Baraga misses a layup. In an ironic moment, Fowler mistimes its heave and Baraga has about a half second left to try a heave which misses.

Fowler has a 28-18 lead at halftime.

Makenna Hendrickson has 6 points to lead the Baraga scoring at halftime. Cori Jahfetson and Reide Osterman each have 5 points.

For Fowler, Mia Riley has 12 points and Emma Riley has 9 points.

Fowler has the ball to open the third quarter. The Eagles miss a layup. Grace Epkey’s tough defense causes a Viking dribbler to lose the ball out of bounds. Avery Koenigsknecht passes to Mia Riley, who spins and hits a layup for Fowler. Avery Koenigsknecht draws an offensive foul from the Vikings. Makenna Hendrickson blocks a Fowler layup. The ball goes out of bounds and Baraga gets possession. Reide Osterman passes to Makenna Hendrickson, who hits a layup for Baraga to trim the Fowler lead to 30-20.

Cori Jahfetson steals the ball for Baraga. Makenna Henderson passes to Autumn Tembreull, who hits a six foot banked shot for Baraga. Fowler drives and is fouled on a layup; they miss their free throws. With 4:54 remaining in the third period, the Eagles have a 30-22 lead.

Grace Epkey gets the offensive rebound from the missed free throw. Fowler misses on a threeball from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and Baraga takes possession. Baraga is fouled on a scooping layup, but misses two free throws. Fowler misses a layup. Baraga misses a three point shot from the wing. Emma Riley is fouled on a driving layup and hits one of her two free throws to give Fowler a 31-22 lead with 3:51 to play in the third quarter.

Baraga misses a driving layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Fowler takes possession. Carly Andros is fouled on a driving layup and hits two free throws for Fowler. Mia Riley blocks a Baraga shot. Reide Osterman blocks a Fowler layup; the rebound goes out of bounds and Baraga takes possession. Reide Osterman takes a zig zag drive to the basket for a Baraga layup. She is fouled on the play and hits her free throw to trim the Fowler lead to 33-25 with 2:08 to go in the quarter.

Fowler throws a pass out of bounds. Baraga misses a three point shot from the side. Makenna Hendrickson pulls down the offensive rebound for the Vikings. Kylie Michaelson drives and banks in a six foot shot from the side for Baraga. Fowler misses a layup; Grace Epkey hits a putback for the Eagles. Reide Osterman drives and scoops in a layup for Baraga. Carly Andros passes to Mia Riley, who hits a fifteen foot shot from the side to give Fowler a 37-29 lead.

Baraga misses an eight foot banked hook shot from the side. Fowler misses a sixteen foot jumper. Grace Epkey gets the offensive rebound for Fowler. The Eagles miss a layup. Baraga misses a three point shot from the side as the third quarter buzzer makes its presence known.

Fowler has a 37-29 lead to start the fourth quarter.

Baraga inbounds the ball to get the fourth quarter started. The Vikings commit an offensive foul. Fowler misses a driving layup. Jaycee Larson passes to Kinsei Jahfetson, who hits a fifteen foot shot from the side for the Vikings. Mia Riley hits a layup for Fowler. Reide Osterman is fouled on a driving layup and hits two free throws to shave the Fowler lead to 39-33 with 6:51 to play in the game.

Fowler misses a three point shot from the top of the key. Reide Osterman drives and hits a layup for Baraga. Reide Osterman gets her hand on the ball, but Fowler is able to recover. Fowler misses a layup. Makenna Hendrickson passes to Cori Jahfetson, who hits a three point shot from the wing to slash the Fowler lead to 39-38.

Emma Riley makes a layup for Fowler. Cori Jahfetson passes to Autumn Tembreull for a Baraga layup. Emma Riley makes a layup for Fowler. Reide Osterman is fouled and makes both ends of a one and one free throw opportunity to pull the Vikings back to within one point at 43-42 with 4:41 remaining in the game.

Fowler misses a layup. Mia Riley gets the offensive rebound. Fowler misses a jump shot. Mia Riley snags the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a layup. The rebounding machine named Mia Riley gets another offensive rebound. Fowler misses a three point jumper. Mia Riley (who else?) gets the offensive rebound for Fowler. Fowler misses a layup. Baraga misfires on a triple try from the side. Fowler misses a layup. Mia Riley hits a putback to give Fowler a 45-42 lead.

Mia Riley knocks the ball away from Baraga to cause a loose ball. The ball is tied up. As the Possession Arrow finally finished its board game about fifteen minutes ago, it is finally giving its full attention to the game. It admires Mia Riley’s hustle and awards the ball to Fowler. Fowler misses a layup. Mia Riley gets yet another offensive rebound for the Eagles. Mia Riley knocks the ball away from Baraga; there is a big scramble for the ball and it is tied up. The Possession Arrow was just looking for a deck of cards to play solitaire and missed the play. The ball is awarded to Baraga.

Baraga misses a layup. Kylie MIchaelson gets the offensive rebound for the Vikings. Baraga is fouled, but misses the first shot in a one and one free throw opportunity. Fowler misses a layup. Emma Riley grabs the offensive rebound for the Eagles. Fowler misses a jump shot. Kylie Michaelson is fouled and hits two free throws to chop the Fowler lead to 45-44 with 1:42 left on the clock.

Cori Jahfetson taps the ball, but Fowler is able to recover. Mia Riley is fouled and hits both ends of a one and one free throw opportunity for Fowler. Reide Osterman is fouled on a driving layup and hits one of her two free throws to pull Baraga to within two points. Autumn Tembreull gets the offensive rebound for Baraga. Emma Riley steals the ball for Fowler. Emma Riley is fouled and hits both ends of a one and one free throw opportunity to give Fowler a 49-45 lead with 29.0 seconds left in the game.

Baraga misses a three point shot from the side. Fowler is fouled on the rebound, but misses the first shot of a one and one free throw opportunity with 15.1 seconds to go. Grace Epkey grabs the offensive rebound for Fowler and passes to Mia Riley, who hits a layup to give Fowler a 51-45 lead.

Baraga misses a layup as time expires.

Fowler wins 51-45 and will play Plymouth Christian at 10 AM Saturday morning for the State Championship!

Reide Osterman led the Baraga scoring with 17 points. Makenna Hendrickson and Cori Jahfetson each supported her with 8 points. Kylie Michaelson and Autumn Tembreull each added 4 points. Jaycee Larson and Kinsei Jahfetson each scored 2 points.

Mia Riley had 24 points to lead the Fowler scoring. Emma Riley added 16 points. Carly Andros, Avery Koenigsknecht and Grace Epkey each had 3 points. Taylor Weber had 2 points.

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