By Leo Martonosi
FENNVILLE—Fennville boys’ basketball coach Joe Rodriguez took all but 17 seconds of the10-minute halftime break during his team’s game with Martin on Tuesday, Feb. 7, to get his point across.
“Coach challenged us,” said Fennville senior guard Julian Martinez-Grigg. “He felt we weren’t playing like we were capable of.”
Martinez-Grigg and his teammates answered the challenge, erasing a 25-21 halftime deficit against the upset-minded Clippers to earn the 59-51 win.
Martinez-Grigg led the way with a team-high 21 points.
“I felt the seniors were just going through the motions (in the first half),” Rodriguez said. “Martin always plays us tough. They did a great job slowing us down.”
Martin coach Dave Curry knew his team’s best chance of pulling out the triumph would be to take the air out of the basketball.
“They are a very deep team, a tough match-up, and we wanted to limit their possessions,” Curry said.
The Blackhawks took advantage of six early third-period fouls called on Martin to grab the 30-29 lead on a basket by Austin Lewis (18 points) on a pretty assist from Felipe Martinez (10 points). It was Fennville’s first lead since it was up 5-4 in the opening quarter.
Martin bounced back to take a 32-31 lead on a long triple by Tanner Curry. A basket by Andrew Boss extended the lead to 34-31.
But Fennville scored the last six points of the third stanza, with a trey by Martinez-Grigg at the buzzer putting the Blackhawks (12-2) up 37-34.
Martinez-Grigg wasn’t surprised that his off-balance shot from the corner swished through the net.
“I practice shots with the clock running down all the time,” he said. “It’s something I work on in practice with (JV coach) Levi Myers.”
The visitors from Martin continued to battle the Blackhawks, trailing by only one point on three occasions in the fourth quarter before Martinez-Grigg and Lewis sealed the win from the free throw lane. Martinez-Grigg made all six of his charity tosses in the fourth quarter and Lewis sank nine of 10 on the evening.
“Another good night at the free throw lane saved us,” Rodriguez said.
Some torrid shooting by Tanner Curry for a game-high 28 points kept Martin (8-6) in the game and made Martinez-Grigg a little nervous.
“He’s a great player.,” Martinez-Grigg said of Tanner Curry. “We’re good friends. We play in Gus Macker together and I go over to his house a lot.”
Carter Hilton added 10 points for Martin.
Three days later, Fennville survived a late scare from Coloma to hold on for the 60-57 win.
The Blackhawks led 43-32 at the end of three quarters only to see Coloma use a 25-17 edge in the final stanza to make things interesting.
Martinez-Grigg led a balanced scoring attack that saw four Fennville players score in double figures. Lewis and JP Alfaro added 13 points each, with Martinez going for 11.
Lewis also had nine rebounds. Ben Renkema added eight rebounds.
Contact Leo Martonosi at email@example.com.