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Western High School junior Reece Hitt (33) finished with 15 points in a Division 2 regional semifinal win over Battle Creek Pennfield on Monday at Williamston High School.  Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

The Western High School girls’ varsity basketball team has been wearing t-shirts with one simple saying on the back … “unfinished business.”

That starts on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The Panthers defeated Battle Creek Pennfield 50-29 in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 regional semifinal on Monday. They will face Lansing Catholic High School in the regional final tomorrow at Williamston High School beginning at 7 p.m.

Western was scheduled to be in the regional final a year ago before COVID-19 restrictions cancelled the remainder of the season. The news came down about four hours before game time.

“Our girls have been wearing a t-shirt that says unfinished business … that unfinished business starts Wednesday,” WHS Coach Gina Fortress said. “We have been shooting for Wednesday night for a long time.”

Fortress said the team held out hope all last spring hoping to be able to play Marshall – an Interstate-8 Conference opponent they beat twice during the regular season – for the regional title. A win would have meant the Panthers’ first quarterfinal appearance in school history.

“We kept holding out hope to be able to play that game,” Fortress said. “Come June, we just let it go.”

The Panthers let it go in the first quarter against Pennfield on Monday in the regional semifinal. Western led 20-5 at the end of the first quarter as Alyna Lewis scored seven points and swarmed on defense.

“We knew we had to shut down Abi Schwartz from Pennfield,” Fortress said. “We ran a box-and-one defense with Alyna Lewis (on Schwartz).

“Alyna is very aggressive on defense.”

Pennfield shot themselves back into the game with four 3-point baskets in the second quarter. Western led 34-21 at halftime.

But that would be as close as Pennfield would get as Western held them to three points in the third quarter. Reece Hitt scored all six of the Panthers’ points in the third quarter, giving Western a 40-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Western gave up five points in the fourth quarter to Pennfield. The Panthers held Pennfield to 29 points in all three contests this season.

Hitt finished with 15 points, Lewis scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Lilli Luma finished with nine rebounds and four assists for Western (16-4). Hillary Griffin scored nine points and Alyssa Gennety tallied six points for the Panthers.

Division 1

East Lansing 2, Northwest 0. Northwest opted out of the tournament and finishes the season with a 14-4 record.

Division 3

Columbia Central 65, Homer 18. CCHS will play Leslie Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hanover-Horton High School.

Grass Lake 41, Riverview Gabriel Richard 17. GLHS will play Ypsilanti Arbor Prep on Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. at Whitmore Lake High School.

Division 4

Fowler 47, Jackson Christian 7. Jackson Christian finishes the season with a 10-7 record.

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