By Jason Wesseldyk
Friday, Feb. 23 served as Senior Night for the Saugatuck girls’ basketball team, as Melody Antel, Melissa Goodell, Maddie Lenskjold and Claire Stannis were honored prior to their final home game against Fennville.
But it was a junior who stole the spotlight.
Maddie Moore scored 35 points to single-handedly outscore the Blackhawks and lead the Indians to the 63-26 victory.
Not only did that point total mark a new career high for Moore, but it also tied former All-State selections Ana Capotosto and Kirk Tiemeyer for the school record, according to Saugatuck coach Kevin Tringali. The final three of those record-tying points came on a triple as time expired.
“It’s exciting,” Moore said. “This was the perfect game for us. We’ve had a tough season (7-13), so to finish like this is going to be good going into districts to get us hyped up.”
This marked the second time in Moore’s career in which she reached the 30-point plateau.
Not that you’d know that by asking her.
“Twenty-eight,” Moore replied when asked what her previous high had been.
Tringali knew better.
“She had 30 in another game,” he said. “She lit it up. She did a little bit of everything. Honestly, this is the kind of thing I expect from her. She’s had some ups and downs this season like we have as a team, but she’s our leader. She’s a special player. She knew it was a special night and she embraced it.”
Moore showed she came to play right from the start, scoring all 10 of her team’s points in the opening quarter.
But Fennville matched her point for point, with the quarter ending deadlocked at 10-10.
“We were able to make some plays early,” said Fennville coach Chip Nightingale, whose team led Saugatuck by seven points at halftime before faltering late during the teams’ first meeting last month.
The second quarter was a different story.
The Indians outscored Fennville 23-6 in the second stanza, using its defensive pressure to force turnovers on six straight Blackhawk possessions during one span.
“The first time we played them, I thought we did a pretty good job handling their pressure,” Nightingale said. “This time, we struggled with that.”
The first time the teams played, Fennville had the services of point guard Coryne Howard. But she hasn’t played since that game due to an injury.
“She was averaging 18 points a game, not to mention handling the ball and everything else she does,” Nightingale said. “So to lose her was tough. But on the positive side, it has enabled other girls to step up and get more playing time.”
Moore and Erin Stannis led the second-quarter charge for Saugatuck, combining to score 19 of the Indians’ points.
Stannis finished with 17 points.
“This is the kind of game I knew we were capable of all season,” Tringali said. “This is a talented group and when we play with the kind of intensity we showed tonight, we can play with anyone.”
Saugatuck pushed its lead to 50-21 after three quarters.
Ah Kyjea Everette paced Fennville (2-18) with 10 points.