By Dave Hart
FREMONT – The Montague girls basketball team entered uncharted waters on Monday, playing in their first regional tournament game in 11 years.
But Newaygo closed out the half by scoring 11 unanswered points and held on to its lead, defeating Montague 47-37 in a Division 2 regional semifinal contest at Fremont High School.
The Wildcats, who finished the regular season unbeaten and won the West Michigan Conference title and Division 3 district championship, closed out the season with a 17-1 overall record.
“Looking back on it, the year before we lost in a district championship game and this year, we were a little bit more composed going into it,” said Montague Coach Cody Kater. “I think tonight it was a tough game for them to go four quarters. We just didn’t knock down shots, and we weren’t nearly as detailed on defense as we would have liked.
“Looking at the big picture, we feel accomplished and are at peace with the work that we put in.”
The Wildcats trailed 10-2 with 3:05 left in the first quarter before closing the stanza on a 6-3 run to cut their deficit to 13-8 at the first buzzer.
Braquelle Osborne led Montague with six first-quarter points.
The Wildcats started the second quarter with a 10-4 run to take a slim 18-17 lead with 2:31 left in the first half.
But Newaygo responded, closing out the half with a 13-2 run and scoring the last 11 points. The Lions led 28-18 at halftime.
Senior Andie Zamojcin scored eight of the 10 Montague points during the second quarter.
The Wildcats trailed 31-18 with 7:21 left in the third quarter before going on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 31-26 with 5:21 remaining.
But again Newaygo responded, closing the quarter by scoring six of the last nine points to head into the fourth with a 37-29 lead.
The Wildcats could only cut the deficit to six points down the stretch, and were outscored 10-8 during the fourth quarter.
Braquelle Osborne paced Montague with 13 points while Ally Hall added seven.
The Lions were paced by Jaxi Long with 14 points while Jaylee Long added 11. Newaygo will play Grand Rapids West Catholic on Wednesday in the regional finals.