Martin girls lose defensive struggle in district finals

The Martin girls’ varsity basketball squad Friday night came up short in its quest for a sixth consecutive district championship.

The Ladies Clippers lost 25-21 to Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep in the finals at Decatur. The loss ended their season with an overall record of 18-5. They were undefeated champions of the Southwest Athletic Conference Central Division. Hackett was runner-up to Kalamazoo Christian in the Valley Division.

The Clippers beat the Irish by the same margin, 39-35, in a non-conference encounter last December.

Avery Jager led Martin with nine points. The Irish did a terrific job on Clippers’ leading scorer Makala Goddard, limiting her to just four points.

“Tonight’s loss definitely stings,” said coach Ben Schipper. “Though it was a close game all the way through, I felt we were in complete control until the very end of the third quarter. It was 17-10 for what felt like forever and then their press caused three straight turnovers to end the third shrinking our lead to 17-14 and giving them a jolt of momentum they hadn’t felt all game. 

“It was an absolute defensive slugfest. I felt our defense was elite through three quarters, and Hackett’s defense was incredible too. Neither team had open shots the entire night. Everything was contested. At the end of the day, they made more plays than we did in the fourth quarter and that was the difference.”

The coach said the Clippers failed to take advantage of stretches in which their defense was suffocating Hackett. Martin also went 4-11 from the free throw line to add to the problems.

“But the big story is the defensive intensity both teams had,” Schipper said. “You might look at the low score and think it was a lousy game, but everyone in that gym tonight would tell you how high quality of a game they just witnessed. 

“I’m so proud of our girls for the amazing season we had.”

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