SAULT STE, MARIE-Another year, another heartbreaking loss.
For the second straight season, the Posen girls basketball team's year ended at the hands of the No. 1 team in the state.
Lexi Gussert scored 26 points and top-ranked Crystal Falls Forest Park defeated the No. 2 Vikings 69-56 in a Class D quarterfinal at Sault Ste. Marie High School.
News Photo by James Andersen
Posen’s Korynn Hincka (44) takes a shot in a class D quarterfinal game against Crystal Falls Forest Park on Tuesday. Posen lost 69-56.
The win closes the book on the greatest girls basketball season in Posen's history and sends the Trojans back to the semifinals for the second time in three years.
"Obviously we're very disappointed. We had a heck of a season and our girls never stopped giving 100 percent," Posen coach Karl Momrik said. "Gussert's a great player and you can't simulate someone like that in practice, so she's one heck of a player. I thought we were in pretty good shape going into the fourth. We made up eight points and couldn't hold it out."
Posen (25-1) trailed 33-26 at halftime and overcame additional deficits of five and six points in the third quarter. With the Trojans (25-0) ahead 42-36 with 4:58 left in the period, Posen went on an 11-4 run to end the quarter and took a 47-46 lead after Ashley Meyers drained a three-pointer.
Gussert canned a triple to start the fourth quarter and Crystal Falls scored the first five points in the period to pull ahead 51-47. Korynn Hincka answered with a bucket to close the gap to two, but that was as close as Posen got.
Clinging to a slim lead, Gussert took over in the final eight minutes, scoring 15 points and controlling play on both ends of the floor. She was a perfect 6-for-6 on free throws in the final quarter and didn't let up until the final buzzer sounded, scoring twice on putbacks in the final 34 seconds.
Now, Gussert, a Michigan State commit is headed back to East Lansing for one more shot at a state title. She scored 34 points in a semifinal loss as a sophomore.
"It's amazing. First of all I just want to give Posen credit, they're a great team. Korynn hustled her butt off tonight, she did amazing. We knew what we had to do," Gussert said. "We let 33 (Meyers) shoot, but overall I'm proud and I'm glad I can go back and play at the Breslin (Center) with my team."
While Gussert led her team offensively, she also did a solid job of setting up her teammates. Kendra Campbell added 18 points for the Trojans and Sam Nylund had nine.
In a matchup of two of the top players in Northern Michigan, Gussert and Hincka, one player's career had to come to an end and unfortunately that someone was Hincka.
In her final game for Posen, Hincka scored 25 points, defended Gussert all game and did just about all she could to will the Vikings to a win. She scored from outside, pounded the ball inside and dished to teammates when it was necessary.
It was Hincka and Posen's other two seniors, Meyers and Austin Sharpe who led the way for the Vikings on Tuesday. Meyers hit four-three-pointers among 14 points and Sharpe had 10 points.
"(It) can't even be measured in words. Three of the best kids you'll ever see. What they did for this program will leave a lasting effect at Posen High School," Momrik said. "It was a tremendous run and we couldn't be prouder of our kids. We came up short tonght, but that doesn't diminish anything these kids did."
Crystal Falls ran into some early foul trouble in the first half, but still traded baskets with Posen early on as both teams tried to find a rhythm. Campbell picked up two fouls in the first quarter and Gussert went to intermission with a pair as well.
A triple from Meyers helped Posen take a 16-15 lead after one quarter and two additional treys in the second quarter helped bring the game to a 22-22 tie with 5:19 left in the half.
Campbell took things over from there, scoring seven points to help pull the Trojans to a 33-26 halftime lead.
After Gussert earned her third foul five seconds into the second half, Hincka, Meyers and Sharpe helped Posen cut into the Trojans' lead and kept pace with them for the entire period. Hincka scored 10 points in the third quarter, grabbing her own rebound several times and scoring on putbacks. A basket from Sharpe tied the game 44-44 with 1:48 left and after Maria Stankewicz scored for Crystal Falls, Meyers buried her last triple of the night to give Posen the lead again.
CRYSTAL FALLS (69): K. Campbell 7 3-4 18; L. Gussert 8 8-9 26; S. Nylund 4 1-2 9; M. Grandahl 1 1-2 3; S. Robarge 1 0-0 3; M. Stankewicz 2 2-4 6; A. Nylund 1 2-2 4.
POSEN (56): A. Sharpe 5 0-0 10; K. Lenard 1 0-3 2; K. Hincka 10 5-6 25; J. Hincka 1 0-0 2; A. Meyers 5 0-1 14; C. LaTulip 0 0-1 0; M. Bartz 1 1-2 3.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.