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Red Hawks defeat Forest Hills Northern

Cedar plays spoiler in OK Blue, Comstock Park is league champion

Cedar Springs Red Hawks Seniors: (from left to right) Josh Hall, Jason Gust, Ryan Harper, Seth Coxon, Branden Atkins, and Achrim Tillbrook

Cedar Springs Red Hawks Seniors: (from left to right) Josh Hall, Jason Gust, Ryan Harper, Seth Coxon, Branden Atkins, and Achrim Tillbrook

Entering the last week of league play this season, the Cedar Springs boys varsity team knew they could not win the league championship. They also knew that they could play a big part in determining who did win it. The second place Huskies of Forest Hills Northern came to Cedar Springs last Tuesday knowing they must win to keep their OK Blue championship hopes alive. The Red Hawks wanted to be the spoilers, and Coach Andy Secor had them prepared to be just that.

Hank Porter (42) goes up for the shot

Hank Porter (42) goes up for the shot

The Red Hawks stormed out to a 21-11 lead after one quarter. But the Huskies battled back, out scoring Cedar Springs 15-7 in the second quarter to cut the Red Hawk lead to 28-26 at the half. Seth Coxon opened the 2nd half with a 3 pointer to put the Red Hawks up 5. Later in the quarter, a Josh Hall lay up and 2 more baskets by Coxon gave Cedar a 41-34 lead after 3 quarters.

A 9-4 run by the Huskies cut the Cedar lead to 2 points with 2:52 to go in the game. Then the ball bounced Cedar’s way as a Ryan Harper 3-point shot from the corner bounced high off the rim, then off the backboard and through the net to give the Hawks a 5 point lead. Then the Huskies were forced to foul, and Cedar failed to convert on 2 straight trips to the free throw line, giving the Huskies the opportunity to claw there way to within 1 point with 38 seconds left.

The Huskies immediately fouled Hank Porter who sank both free throws to give Cedar a 3-point lead. The Huskies answered back with 2 made free throws to cut the lead to 1 point with 16 seconds left. Ryan Harper then made 1 of his 2 free throws to give Cedar a 2-point lead with 13 seconds left. The Huskies had one final attempt to tie the game. Jason Vanderband drove to the rim and Ryan Harper blocked his game-tying lay-up attempt. Hank Porter grabbed the rebound and was fouled with less than 2 seconds left and Cedar claimed the dramatic upset victory. The final score was Cedar Springs 54, Forest Hills Northern 51.

“What a great team victory,” said Coach Andy Secor. “To beat the 2nd and 3rd place teams (FHN and Sparta) within the span of a week was a great accomplishment for our team. Hank Porter continues to make key free throws down the stretch, but the story of the game was our team defense. Ryan Harper’s block with 4 seconds left to seal the victory is a play I will remember for a long time. To win our 4th game in a row at this point of the season shows that our determination and hard work is paying off.”

Seth Coxon led all scorers with 19 Points for the Red Hawks. Jason Gust had 15 points. Hank Porter chipped in with 6 points and 6 assists. Ryan Harper scored 6 points, while Trey Reed and Josh Hall had 4 each. The victory over the Huskies by the Red Hawks clinched the outright OK Blue Championship for the Comstock Park Panthers, who ended the night with a 2 game lead with only one game to go.

It was only fitting that the next opponent for the Red Hawks was Comstock Park, who came to Cedar last Friday on Senior Night for the Red Hawks. The six Cedar Springs seniors—Branden Atkins, Seth Coxon, Jason Gust, Josh Hall, Ryan Harper and Achrim Tillbrook—were honored in a ceremony before the game began. Coach Secor talked about each senior as they took the floor through a long tunnel formed by the Red Hawk players and fans.

The game itself was not very memorable for the Red Hawks as the Panthers showed why they are the league champions. The game started well for Cedar Springs as they took a 12-11 lead midway through the first quarter. It was appropriate that all 12 of those Red Hawk points were score by seniors. Two Gust 3-pointers, a Branden Atkins 3-pointer and a Ryan Harper 3-pointer gave the Red Hawks that 12-11 lead.

Unfortunately for Cedar Springs, they would not see the lead again as the Panthers went on a 25-6 run and take an 18-point lead early in the 3rd quarter. The Panthers controlled the rest of the game and defeated the Red Hawks 61-35.

Jason Gust led the Red Hawks with 9 points. Gust now has 1062 career points. Gust moved past Luke Walker (1043 points) into 5th place on the Cedar Springs all time scoring list. Gust has at least 2 more games to catch 4th place Norm Hill, who scored 1,100 points for the Red Hawks.

Hank Porter scored 7 points for Cedar and Alec Hanmer had 6. Ryan Harper, Branden Atkins and Seth Coxon had 3 points each. Kyle Chaney and Ryan Dines rounded out the Red Hawk scoring with 2 each.

Coach Secor was disappointed with the game result, but commented on his seniors, “I really enjoyed our senior night festivities. I enjoyed paying tribute to this group of kids that have been a special part of our program.”

Cedar Springs travels to Hudsonville to play the Crusaders of Unity Christian High School on Thursday to finish the regular season. The Red Hawks begin MHSAA Tournament play at Kenowa Hills on Monday, March 8 at 8 p.m. as they take on the host Knights in a re-match of an early season game. The Red Hawks defeated Kenowa Hills 50-42 on January 5 of this year.

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