Newaygo Back in State Quarterfinals After 36 Years
NEWAYGO – For the first time since winning consecutive Class C state championships in 1984 and 1985, the Newaygo girls basketball team has reached the state quarterfinals.
Newaygo (19-1) will face Wayland (12-2) in a Division 2 quarterfinal at Vicksburg Monday.
“It’s hard to win, especially in the postseason, anything could happen,” added Newaygo coach Nate Thomasma. “Did we know we could get here? Absolutely.”
The Lions went undefeated in Central State Activities Association Gold play this year en route to a 19-1 overall record. Newaygo went 17-7 a year ago and reached a regional final before the remainder of the postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wayland enters Monday quarterfinal winners of seven straight. Prior to the start of the postseason, the Wildcats had three games canceled and went through a 20-day layoff.
Wayland reached Monday’s quarterfinal via regional tournaments wins over Plainwell (54-41) and Edwardsburg (61-48).
Newaygo’s connection with its 1985 state title team remains, as current Lions and sisters Jaxi and Jaylee Long’s aunt and father were members of that team as player and team manager, respectively.
“I’m glad that Jaxi and I could be in it together, too,” Jaylee Long said. “My dad and my aunt, they’ve been there and they know the pressure. They have that experience. They give us both advice.”
“It’s a good relationship,” Thomasma added. “They sent the girls flowers last year when we made it to the regional finals initially. This year, they’ve sent text messages to me. A couple of the girls have gotten some congratulations. There is still a little bit of a connection. I think that has to do with Newaygo, the smaller town, so it’s been pretty neat.”
The winner of the Newaygo-Wayland quarterfinal will face the winner of the Detroit Country Day-Imlay City quarterfinal at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Monday’s game from Vicksburg tips at 7 p.m.