By Leo Martonosi
Fennville boys’ basketball coach Joe Rodriguez knows full well how big the rivalry games with Saugatuck are every season.
“I can’t remember it not being a game on the schedule that means the most to the players and to the fans,” said Rodriguez, who also played in the rivalry during his prep days for the Blackhawks.
The latest battle between the teams on Friday, Jan. 18, went the way of Fennville by a score of 64-55.
First-year Saugatuck coach Ward got caught up in the rivalry from the opening tip off to the final whistle.
“This game means a lot to both schools and to both communities,” he said.
That’s why, even with is team trailing by nine points in the closing seconds, Ward called a time out with 7.3 ticks left on the game scoreboard.
“I wanted our players to play hard for 32 minutes,” Ward said.
And for Saugatuck no one played harder than senior Brad Dunn, who erupted for a game-high 26 points.
“Bradley was obviously hot and is a great player, but we gave him too many uncontested looks,” Rodriguez said.
Fennville also has a very talented player in Matthew Sanchez, who led the more balanced Fennville offensive attack with 23 points.
“Matthew played great,” Rodriguez said. “He carried us and was six-of-six on free throws in the fourth quarter.”
The Blackhawks, who raised their overall record to 5-6 and divisional mark to 3-1, had a few more options to go to than did the Indians.
“I think we have a little more depth,” Rodriguez said.
Jace Cossey, Fennville’s point guard, tallied 12 points, while Brody Peterson, Teegan Lemmons and Josh Parcher came through with nine, eight and six respective points.
Two Saugatuck sophomores, Samuel Larsen (13 points) and Tommy Beckman (six points), had strong contests.
“Our younger guys are getting better and better,” said Ward, who feels his team is much better than its overall 2-9 record. “We’ve lost a few games that we felt we could have won.”
Proceeds from the latest Fennville-Saugatuck game went to “Be Nice,” a mental health awareness and suicide-prevention group. The effort was organized by students from both schools.
“They seem to always have some good causes going on,” Rodriguez said.
Even though there were times when the game got a little physical, the only blood came out of the nose of Ward.
“It was just one of those things,” he said about having a difficult time getting his nose to stop bleeding at halftime.
Ward insisted it wasn’t from the pressure of coaching in his first varsity game against Fennville.
“That had nothing to do with it,” he said.
Saugatuck falls to Allegan
Some hot shooting from Allegan was too much for Saugatuck to overcome in a non-conference showdown on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Allegan shot 29-of-57 (51 percent) from the floor en route to handing the Indians the 74-53 loss.
“It seemed like they couldn’t miss,” Ward said. “I know they have some good players, but I was not expecting them to shoot like they did. I didn’t feel our guys played all that poorly. It was just one of those nights when Allegan was knocking down everything.”
Dunn did his best to keep the Indians in the game, scoring 12 first-half points and 11 second-half points for a team-best 23 points.
Sean Cozzie was next in line with eight points, while Cooper Meyers added seven points.
“We did some good things and played well in spurts,” Ward said. “We just have to continue to work to find that consistency we need.”
Allegan led 22-14 after one quarter and held a 37-21 edge at halftime. Saugatuck never got closer than 15 points in the second half.
Contact Leo Martonosi at email@example.com.