By Jason Wesseldyk
OTSEGO—For much of the girls basketball game between rivals Plainwell and Otsego, the host Bulldogs did a good job of containing Trojan senior Lauren Vos.
Vos had been limited to two points through three quarters and had four points as the game entered the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
But when her team needed her the most, Vos delivered.
Taking a pass from Maya Johnson, Vos set herself and fired up a mid-range jumper that found its way through the net as time expired to give Plainwell the 42-41 victory in dramatic fashion.
Plainwell coach Mark Stephenson wasn’t surprised to see Vos come up clutch. In fact, he kind of predicted it.
“Lauren wasn’t really on for most of the game,” Stephenson said. “She was struggling with a shot a little bit and didn’t have a really good feel.
“But when she was sitting on the bench, I told her not to worry about it and that she was going to hit a big shot for us. I didn’t know it would be quite that big, but she’s the kind of player who steps up at big times.”
The win enabled the Trojans (10-9) to secure the season split with the Bulldogs (11-8). In the first meeting between the teams last month, Otsego won in overtime.
“The two games this season kind of show what this rivalry is all about,” Stephenson said. “The games are usually really competitive. You hardly ever get a blowout on either side. It’s just good high school basketball in a great environment.”
Otsego coach Tony Koshar agreed.
“It’s games like this that make this rivalry so special,” he said. “It’s tough to be on the wrong end of it, for sure. But I felt like players on both teams really battled and gave everything they had.
“And the really cool thing is that, even though they’ll go out and battle hard the whole game, most of these girls are friends. This isn’t some nasty rivalry. There’s a lot of mutual respect that goes both ways.”
The need for a buzzer-beater seemed far-fetched based on the way the game started.
Plainwell got a pair of 3-pointers from Ellery Troff in the first quarter to snag a 13-5 lead and eventually pushed its advantage to 21-10.
But Otsego—playing without the services of point guard Aly Aldrich as she nursed an injury—narrowed the gap to 21-19 at halftime and went to the final frame down 32-28. And with 3:01 left to play, the Bulldogs took their first lead at 37-36 on a pair of free throws from Maddie Elkins.
Then, with 8.3 seconds remaining and Plainwell up 40-39, Tessa Prough knocked down a shot to put Otsego back on top. That prompted Stephenson to call a timeout and set up the play that proved to be the game-winner.
“In hindsight, I didn’t put us in the best position I could have based on the defense I chose to go with,” Koshar said. “And that’s on me. But I’m so proud of the way our girls battled. They gave everything and it was almost enough.”
Brook Timpe paced Plainwell with 14 points, followed by Troff with 11.
For Otsego, Hannah Fitzpatrick scored a game-high 17 points. Haley Guerrant joined her in double figures with 10 points.