Chieftains hold off Rangers 53-49

Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023

CASSOPOLIS — The Dowagiac girls basketball team has been looking for a signature victory this season.

The Chieftains got that win Tuesday night as it knocked off host Cassopolis 53-49 in non-conference action.

Maggie Weller scorched the Rangers for 21 points, which included a pair of free throws to seal the victory in the closing seconds Tuesday. Weller got Dowagiac (8-6) off to a quick start as well as she scored nine of her points in the opening quarter.

The Chieftains dominated the first half, leading 15-10 after eight minutes of play and 28-20 at halftime.

“That is a very big win,” said Dowagiac Coach Jason Turner. “Even after getting a win last night, we did not feel like we played the best that we could. We didn’t have layups fall for us. Our free throws weren’t falling. It was just good to come out here tonight with some offensive energy. Defensively, we fouled way too much. That was the story of game, I think.”

Cassopolis (10-4) came roaring back in the second half and briefly took the lead on several occasions, but could never build on it as Dowagiac would respond and reclaim the advantage.

Cassopolis Coach Stefon Luckey is still looking for his team, despite the solid overall record and being undefeated in the Southwest 10 Conference, to play a more consistent brand of basketball.

“We have had a problem all year executing what we do,” he said. “We go over it every day in practice.”

The Rangers forced Dowagiac into numerous miscues in the second half, which allowed Cassopolis to get back into the game. The Rangers were up 39-38 as the third quarter came to a close, but Dowagiac scored the final basket of the period to lead 40-39 with eight minutes remaining.

The two teams continued to battle in the fourth quarter, with neither team gaining much of an advantage.

Clinging to the lead in the final minute, Dowagiac went 6-of-10 from the free throw line to hold the Rangers at bay. Marlie Carpenter, who had six points off the bench for the Chieftains, hit one of two free throws to make it 51-49. Weller then finished off the Cassopolis hopes with a pair of free throws.

Besides Weller and Carpenter, Dowagiac also got 12 points from Alanah Smith and five points each from Rebecca Guernsey and Audrey Johnson.

Atyanna Alford had a game-high 23 points to lead the Rangers, who also got nine points from Quianna Murray and six points from Ella Smith.

Dowagiac heads back into Lakeland Conference action Friday night as it travels to Benton Harbor, where it will attempt to avenge a 55-37 loss to the Tigers back in December.

The Rangers return to Southwest 10 Conference play Friday night as it travels to Marcellus.a