Division 2: Edwardsburg wins fifth straight district title

Published 7:11 am Sunday, March 5, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — The beat goes on for the Edwardsburg girls basketball team.

The host Eddies shook off a slow start to win its fifth consecutive Division 2 District championship, defeating Dowagiac 42-22 Friday night.

Neither team shot the ball well in the opening 12-plus minutes of the contest, one of the few district finals held Friday night due to heavy, wet snow falling throughout southwest Michigan.

Edwardsburg (17-7) doubled up Dowagiac (12-11) in the opening eight minutes 8-4.

The Chieftains rallied in the first half of the second quarter to tie the game at 8-8, but a 12-0 run by the Eddies to end the first half proved to be the difference as Edwardsburg took a 20-8 lead to the locker room and was never challenged in the second half by Dowagiac.

“I’m proud of our girls for the way they battled tonight,” said Edwardsburg Coach Jon Pobuda. “We got off to a slower start and you have to give Dowagiac credit for that. We were able to hit some shots before half to stretch the lead. Then we came out strong in the third to extend it.”

The Chieftains, who finished with their first winning season since 2009, never got into any offensive tempo against the Eddies, who applied pressure up and down the court.

“Tonight just wasn’t our night,” said Dowagiac Coach Jason Turner. “We couldn’t catch a break and couldn’t get a shot to fall even though we got a lot of great looks.”

Pobuda agreed that his team’s pressure hurt the Chieftains.

“Our pressure was pretty good tonight as we were able to slow them down and contest shots,” he said.

The one bright spot for Dowagiac in the first half was senior Alanah Smith, who scored.

Smith scored all eight of the Chieftains’ first-half points, but finished with just one basket in the final 16 minutes.

“Smith hurt us in the paint, especially in the first half,” Pobuda said.

The Eddies, who head to Three Rivers Tuesday for the Division 2 Regional semifinals, where they will face Holland Christian in the first game at 5:30 p.m., shot the ball better and forced more turnovers, which they converted into easy baskets.

Edwardsburg outscored Dowagiac 22-14 in the second half to claim the title.

Kenzie Schaible led the Eddies and all scorers with 12 points, while Averie Markel added 11 points and Caitlin Tighe eight.

Smith finished with 10 points for the Chieftains. Maggie Weller finished with six and Audrey Johnson five.

Despite the loss, Turner is pleased with his team’s efforts throughout the year.

“I am so proud of these ladies and the season that they have had,” he said. “We came up short of our goal, but we still accomplished a lot this year. After the game, I told them they should hold their heads up high and definitely should be proud. We will miss our two seniors but the rest of the program will need to put in some work in during the off-season to be prepared next year.”

Dowagiac graduates Smith and guard Josie Lock, who played in the district tournament despite injuring her shoulder in the regular-season finale.