By Mike Moore (Photo by Ryan Kerwin, JTV Sports)
Jackson — This was a team one win away from perfection.
Now it’s a team striving for it from now until the end of the girls basketball tournament.
The Northwest girls hoops squad will begin the 2018 postseason tonight at Eaton Rapids against Parma Western in a district semifinal.
But first, a quick look back at what was the marathon regular season.
“It was a pretty special for us, in a number of ways,” coach Ryan Carroll said of a 19-1 finish. “Obviously, the 19 wins is great and something to be proud of. But this can be a grueling sports season, and to take every team’s best punch, and still find ways to win and compete, even when we weren’t at our best, was special.”
The Mounties’ first goal was to win a league title, and that was accomplished.
“We won a conference championship in a very tough conference with good teams says a lot about this program and the talent we have,” Carroll said. “Every single night you have to bring it. It was stressful. But when it ended, I think we had a weight lifted.”
The regular season was the best in program history.
But now, the team is 0-0 and looking to avoid any upsets.
“We lost in the first game of the playoffs last year, so we know how that feels,” Carroll said. “We have no interest in repeating that.”
Western (7-14) kept its season alive with a 51-43 victory over Stockbridge Monday to set up the third meeting of the season with Northwest on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The Mounties have won the first two games, and rather handily.
“The goal is to win championships, and the next one is a district championship,” Carroll said.
Northwest is seeking its first district title since 2016.
“We are aware of what Western is made of and capable of,” Carroll added. “Truthfully, we’ve moved on from the season and have shifted our focus to the playoffs. We’re locked in on what we do and how we can do it the best way possible.”
The Mounties are heavy favorites to win the district title. They entered the bracket as the only team in the district with a record above .500.
“The kids understand we need to be at our best every single night,” Carroll said. “At the same time, we’re not a team that will hang our hat on just one thing. We can play offense. We can pressure on defense. We feel that’s an advantage, where if one part of our game isn’t great, we can find other ways to win.”
By week’s end, the hopes and dreams of the team will be much more clear.
“We have some seniors who aren’t ready to be done,” Carroll added. “We need some things to fall into place, and there are some steps we need to take. But I think we’ve proven all year we can beat some of the best teams out there. We feel we have the talent and experience to handle the big stage. We hope to have a long run ahead of us.”
Eaton Rapids (9-11) and Leslie (9-11) face one another in the other semifinal.
The final is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Mike Moore is a play-by-play commentator and Sports Writer for JTV Sports.
He’s also a Realtor with Real Estate One, specializing with buyers and sellers throughout Michigan, from the Jackson area to metro Detroit. You can reach him at email@example.com or by calling (313) 770-6365 with any inquiries.