By Jason Wesseldyk
SHELBY—For the record, the Saugatuck girls basketball team dropped its Division 3 regional semifinal against Kent City on Tuesday, March 7, by a score of 66-32.
That, however, isn’t what Trailblazers coach Kevin Tringali will remember about this season.
Rather, he’ll remember that his squad played in the program’s first regional contest in 19 years.
“It was a tough game for us, there’s no question about that,” Tringali said. “But this one game does nothing to diminish what we accomplished this season. We won a district title for the first time in nearly 20 years and we were one of the final 16 teams playing (in Division 3). That’s a pretty special season.”
Winning a district championship is one of the many memories Tringali will cherish from the 2022-23 campaign.
“We accomplished so much on and off the court this season,” Tringali said. “It started back in the summer with our cabin trip and included going to watch a Notre Dame game as a team, visiting a local nursing home during Christmas break and all the team dinners.”
And then there was the celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that prohibited sex-based discrimination in schools and opened the doors for the wide-spread participation of girls in high school athletics.
“Our Title IX celebration is something I’ll never forget,” Tringali said. “To be able to honor the women who paved the way for these girls and for us to share that with the community was such a highlight for me.”
Tringali praised the leadership displayed by senior captains Erin Moerler and Haley Rivera.
“Erin and Haley really took ownership of their roles as leaders back in the summer and they’ve been setting the tone for us since then,” Tringali said. “I’m so grateful and appreciative of everything those two provided for us.”
Fellow senior Caralyn Doucette also left her mark on the team.
“Caralyn has been part of our program since second grade,” Tringali said. “And she also did everything we asked of her. She was a great teammate and she’s a great person. It was such an honor to coach her.”
As for the regional semifinal game, Kent City wasted little time in taking control. The Eagles jumped out to a 21-6 lead after one quarter. By halftime, the lead stood at 47-11, thanks in large part to a torrid outside shooting display that saw Kent City knock down nine 3-pointers before halftime.
“Kent City is a really, really good team,” Tringali said. “They’re just at another level than we are right now. But it was a great experience for our younger girls to play against a team like that and see what it takes to be at that level.”
Sophomore Kennedy Gustafson paced the Trailblazers (15-10) with nine points. Rivera added eight points, followed by Moerler with seven and junior captain Jenn Schock with six.
Freshman Elsa Nor rounded out the scoring with two points.
“The game obviously didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but I’m so grateful for the community support we received with so many people making the trip to Shelby,” Tringali said.
“We’re definitely going to miss our seniors, but we have so many players coming back next season. We’re on the upswing and I’m already excited for next year.”
By Jason Wesseldyk