Whitehall students and players, including Dylan Medendorp (12) and Isaac Love (33), celebrate the Vikings’ 61-52 upset of Montague Friday night. The Vikes snapped Montague’s 13-game winning streak with the victory.
WHITEHALL — The Whitehall Vikings have come a long way from the squad that dropped five of their six games before the holiday break. Friday night, they proved it in grand fashion.
Whitehall closed conference play on a high note by defeating Montague, 61-52, sending Vikings’ students onto the court and sending the Wildcats to their first loss since Dec. 11.
“For our seniors, this is special,” Whitehall coach Nate Aardema said. “(Montague coach) Dave (Osborne) has done such an amazing job with that program that it’s been a while since we’ve beaten them. So for our seniors to grow and develop and be able to win that game is a good accomplishment.”
Whitehall came out looking more confident than it had in the previous meeting with Montague, a lopsided loss in January. The Vikings trailed by one at the break, mostly thanks to buzzer-beating shots by Devontae Vance to end each of the first two quarters.
The Vikings (8-10, 8-6 West Michigan Conference) then had a terrific third quarter, anchored not by usual suspect Isaac Love, but by Matt Russell and Dylan Medendorp, to surge into the lead. Vance, who totaled 13 points and six assists, was the catalyst, but Matt Rohen, who had five assists in the second half alone, also helped.
“When you have great point guard play, everyone’s involved,” Aardema said. “It doesn’t have to be one guy carrying you.”
Whitehall led by six after three quarters, but Montague (15-2, 12-2 WMC) surged back, not content to rest on the laurels of its WMC title. The Wildcats had it down to three before Rohen made the biggest play of the game, scoring through contact for a three-point play. Montague didn’t seriously threaten again. Rohen had only eight points, but it felt like much more.
“We had this saying that we have to be poised,” Aardema said. “The kids did a good job of it. There were a few bumpy stretches, but we executed what we wanted to do and hit foul shots to finish it.”
Russell and Love each had 12 points, and Medendorp added eight.
Luke VanBoxel worked hard to score a game-high 18 points for Montague, and Brandon Moore added 15, but the Wildcats fell just short.
“The big thing is we held Montague to 52 points,” Aardema said. “That’s a great offensive team. To hold them to 52, that’s defensive effort.”
MONTAGUE (52) Bentz 1 0-0 2, Moore 7 0-2 15, Stine 0 2-2 2, VanBoxel 7 4-7 18, Marsh 1 0-0 2, Casebolt 3 0-2 8, Boerema 2 1-2 5. Totals 21 7-15 52.
WHITEHALL (61) DeCouto 1 0-0 2, Vance 3 6-10 13, Medendorp 4 0-1 8, Owens 1 0-0 3, Rohen 3 1-1 8, Russell 6 0-1 12, Love 3 4-4 12, Sims 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 11-17 61.
Montague....14 14 11 13 — 52
Whitehall...16 11 18 16 — 61
Three-point goals — Moore 1, Casebolt 2, Vance 1, Owens 1, Rohen 1, Love 2, Sims 1. Fouled out — Boerema, Russell. Technical fouls — none.
Big Reds down Rockets
MUSKEGON — The Reeths-Puffer Rockets took a 70-57 defeat Friday night at home against the Muskegon Big Reds.
R-P fell to 5-12 and 2-7 in the O-K Black Conference with the loss.
The Rockets had trouble stopping Deshaun Thrower, who poured in 30 points for Muskegon. R-P trailed 38-26 at the break and couldn’t draw much closer in the second half.
Andrew Reinecke scored 19 points to pace the Rockets, while DeDe Blake added 12. Each player hit a trio of three-pointers.
The Rockets will face Whitehall and Holland this week in non-conference play to close the regular season.