MISportsNow’s Top Stories of 2019: No. 7 – High School Hardwood Success
As we approach a new year and a new decade, MISportsNow is looking back at the top 10 area sports stories for 2019. This is the fourth in a 10-part series.
The 2019 high school winter sports season saw the Frankfort boys basketball team make its first-ever appearance in a state championship game and the St. Ignace girls basketball program reach its first state title game since winning the 2015 Class D title and sixth since 2010.
In a clash of the top two teams in the state, St. Ignace fell to Adrian Lenawee Christian, 48-46, in the Division 4 final on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
“I was proud of my kids… even though we couldn’t make a shot, they still kept at it and they didn’t put their heads down,” St. Ignace coach Dorene Ingalls said after the game. “I’m so proud of them. They brought it every second they were out there. Obviously, we allowed their best players to have a little too easy of a time at times, but then they had a real difficult time at times too.
“That’s a great team, and we knew it was going to be an epic game. We just fell a little bit short, but we were definitely there, all heart, and I’m real proud of them.”
Unranked, Frankfort’s run to the Division 4 state final was a surprise for many. The Panthers would fall to defending Class D champion and third-ranked Southfield Christian 63-39 at Michigan State’s Breslin Center on Saturday, March 16, 2019.
Prior to the championship game, first-year head coach Dan Loney’s squad had recorded late-game heroics in its regional final, quarterfinal and semifinal wins.
“It was a whirlwind of a game,” Loney said following the loss. “Nobody really expected as to be here. These guys worked their tails off all year and they never quit. No matter how much we were down, these guys never quite, and as a coach, that’s all you can ask for.
“I’m so proud of these guys. They set the tone for the program. This is where we want to be, and these guys did a good job of getting us here.”
In addition to the success enjoyed by Frankfort and St. Ignace, the Lake City girls basketball team made its first appearance in a state semifinal since winning the 1976 MHSAA Class D state title. The Trojans fell to perennial contender Flint Hamady, 42-33, in the Division 3 semifinals at Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena on Thursday, March 21, 2019.
On the boys side, Ludington made a surprise run to the Division 2 semifinals for its second semifinal appearance in three years and first since finishing runner-up in Class B in 2017. Ludington struggled early in falling to honorable mention Hudsonville Unity Christian 69-30 on Friday, March 15, 2019.
After dropping five of its final six regular season games, Ludington entered the postseason at 9-10 but finished the year at 14-11.