Fourth quarter run clinches 40-37 comeback victory for Kalkaska

Varsity girls basketball team leads by 10 going into the final eight minutes, but Blazers battle back to win by three
Grayling High School’s varsity girls basketball team led by 10 points going into the fourth quarter of Friday night’s home game vs. Kalkaska, but the Blazers ended the contest with a 13-0 run, and Kalkaska won by a final score of 40-37.
The Vikings led 12-8 after one quarter of play. Grayling scored 12 points in the first eight minutes of regulation with a three-pointer by Makenzie Castle, a drive by Jenna Haring, a put-back by Rylan Finstrom, a lay-up by Castle, and a three-pointer by Sierra Trudeau.
At halftime, the Vikings had a 21-20 advantage. Grayling scored nine points in the second period with an inside shot by Finstrom, a lay-up by Trinity Dutton, and free throws from Alison Brown, Kayleigh Paulus, Jasmine Youngblood, and Castle. 
Kalkaska scored the first basket of the second half with an inside shot.
Grayling scored 10 unanswered points – a series that included a put-back by Youngblood, a put-back by Finstrom, a drive by Dutton, a drive by Castle, and a put-back by Castle – to lead 31-22 with 2:11 left in the third quarter.
Kalkaska scored on an inside shot. Sage Jones hit a jumper for the Vikings. The Blazers made one of two from the free throw line. Castle scored on a lay-up during the final seconds of the third period.
After three quarters of play, Grayling led by 10, 35-25.
Kalkaska scored the first basket of the fourth period with a jumper at the 5:27 mark. Grayling responded with an inside shot by Youngblood. The Vikings, with 5:05 remaining in regulation, led 37-27.
The Blazers outscored Grayling 13-0 the rest of the way. Kalkaska blocked a three-point attempt by the Vikings during the final seconds of the fourth quarter, and the Blazers won 40-37.
Castle finished with 12 points for Grayling. Finstrom had six points. Youngblood had five points.
“We came out aggressive and moving the ball and got the looks we wanted and were able to take a lead into the fourth quarter. Shots didn’t go our way in the fourth and we lost it down the stretch. The girls played extremely well and did everything I asked of them. We will bounce back and keep fighting,” Coach Dan Brandt said.
On Tuesday, the varsity girls basketball team opened its 2020-2021 season with a 52-31 loss at Elk Rapids.
“The girls battled hard and came up a little short,” Coach Brandt said. “We got ourselves into an early hole and couldn’t dig ourselves out. I am very proud of the effort and mental toughness this team showed tonight. We have some areas to clean up but many positives came out of the game. We were able to get 10 kids in the scorer’s book which is always a plus.”
Jones finished the game with a team-high nine points.
Because of regulations from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in place to battle the spread of COVID-19, basketball teams were not able to have normal practices until Monday of last week.
Coach Brandt said the team’s non-contact practice time was productive in some ways but also limiting.
“The non-contact practices were good for getting up lots of shooting and working on our conditioning; however, it was tough to demonstrate our new offensive sets or defensive sets with only one set of players on the floor.  Also coming up with creative ways to do drills and conditioning that maintained that social distance between players,” Coach Brandt said.
The unusual preseason for basketball teams in Michigan featured a shutdown of in-person practices for weeks, then a period of “non-contact” practices only, followed by another revision of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order, this time allowing “contact” sports to resume normal practices and competition on February 8 instead of February 21 as previously listed.
Coach Brandt said the Grayling squad is ready to play.
“We as a team really just tried to focus on having fun and staying positive throughout the process, though there were some times where you could see the body language of the players and coaching staff drop because things continued to get pushed back,” Coach Brandt said. “We are so excited to play. The players were so thrilled to be able to start contact practices and games and the energy in the gym showed it. This year’s group is a special collection of players who have put in so much time in the offseason and with a large group of seniors it’s their last run at high school sports and they were so pumped when we found out we would be able to play.”
The squad has seven seniors, three juniors, one sophomore, and one freshman this year. Coach Brandt said unity and leadership are among the group’s strengths.
“Our strengths this year is that the girls are playing as a unified team. We have some good depth at several spots on the floor and we have some strong leadership,” Coach Brandt said.
“Our team goals are to enjoy every moment that we get to play and not take anything for granted. They want to compete and be in every game and make some great memories that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Of course we want to win games and come out of this year with a winning record overall. I hope to see growth out of my underclassmen as we do have seven seniors who will depart at the end of this season. I look for these kids to push each other to be the best they can be both on and off the floor,” Coach Brandt said.
The Vikings will host Charlevoix at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, February 19.
A limited number of tickets may be available to the public for home games this season.
“For boys and girls junior varsity and varsity basketball games tickets will be sold via GoFan. Each school will receive a link ahead of time to send to out their respective teams for pre-sale. At noon on the day of the game the link will become live to the general public and if there are extra tickets they may be purchased from there. You can find the link on the GHS Facebook page or by going to and searching for Grayling High School,” according to the GHS Athletic Department.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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