Hudsonville girls stifle Midland Dow, advance to first-ever state Division 1 state title game

EAST LANSING – The Hudsonville girls basketball team knew it was one win away from making school history as the Eagles took the court for the Division 1 state semifinals against Midland Dow on Wednesday night at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Midland Dow’s Jada Garner (24) goes up for a shot during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game against Hudsonville at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. © Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Hudsonville coach Casey Glass looks on during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game against Midland Dow at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

The Eagles came out motivated on the defensive end, as they held the Chargers to 26 percent shooting from the field, including 4-of-15 from 3-point range, to secure a 49-37 decision and the school’s first-ever appearance in a state championship game.

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Midland Dow’s Alexa Kolnitys (12) passes the ball while being guarded by Hudsonville’s Gabriella Scholten (15) during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

MORE: Images from Wednesday’s Division 1 state semifinal game

“Defensively, we had a great gameplan and we stuck with that,” said Hudsonville head coach Casey Glass. “We hit some big shots and Maddie (Petroelje) had some big threes at critical points in the game. We started out hot, we got out to a good early lead, and I think in games like this, that’s key. You want to turn up the tempo right away and dictate the style of play and I thought we did a good job of that.

“In the second half, we made some adjustments, and definitely came out defensively and made some plays. Anytime you can hold a team to under 30 percent, you’re having a good night. I thought our rebounding was phenomenal. We really wanted to focus on finding a body every time and boxing out, and I thought we did a really good job of that.”

Petroelje finished with a game-high 15 points and added 11 rebounds to power the Eagles, while Alaina Diaz added eight points, seven rebounds and three assists and Jaci Tubergen had seven points and 11 rebounds. Eva Joldersma added six points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Emmalynn Costen had six points, six rebounds and three assists.

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Hudsonville’s Jaci Tubergen (33) drives against Midland Dow’s Alexa Kolnitys (12) during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

“What makes this group special is just the group of kids we have,” said Glass. “Every year, it’s a different team and a different personality, and in a year like this one, where there’s so many uncertainties, for these kids to bring it every day in practice, every day at school and every night we compete, I couldn’t be happier for the kids and prouder of our program and our community. The support we had today was incredible.”

The Eagles have leaned on each other to get the job this year and the family atmosphere has pushed the team to new heights.

“This season, we’ve really focused on being a family,” said Tubergen. “One of our mottos is ‘Forget about me, I love you’ and I think that’s coming into play a lot, especially down the stretch here in the tournament. Someone might make a mistake but we all go back and pick each other up.

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Midland Dow coach Kyle Theisen looks on during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game against Hudsonville at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

“We also say ‘Pick your head up and play together’ because we always try to support each other and play as a team, so when one person isn’t playing well, the rest of us have to pick it up a little bit,” said Diaz.

Hudsonville (22-1) will face Detroit Renaissance (13-4) on Friday at 12:30 p.m. for their shot at the first state championship in school history.

“The state championship is obviously the pinnacle of where you want to get to, but right now, we just got to focus on playing as hard as we can play for 32 minutes in that next game,” said Glass. “We’re excited to be in this position, we’re excited for these girls, and we’re going to celebrate tonight with this moment of making it this far. We’ve never had a team in our school’s history get here, so we’re going to come out on Friday and be ready to go.

“(Renaissance) applies a ton of pressure, they’ve got some good players, and they’ve got some good shooters. We will have to handle their pressure, and I think that we can do a good job of shooting the ball and attacking the basket. It all comes down to how do you play in that moment.”

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Midland Dow’s Kennedy Caldwell (22) fouls Hudsonville’s Eva Joldersma (21) during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Abby Rey finished with 13 points and three rebounds to lead Dow (22-1), while Alexa Kolnitys added 10 points, 11 rebounds and two assists and Klaire Caldwell had six points. Jada Garner added four points, two rebounds and two assists, while Kortney Fischer had four points.

“If you look at the four teams that are here, when we get off the bus, it probably doesn’t look like we belong here if you look at our stature,” said Midland Dow head coach Kyle Theisen. “Our girls just keep fighting and fighting, even though they have a height disadvantage in most games they play in. I think that says a lot about the way they play, and it says a lot about their heart and determination.

“There’s just so much pride in the way these girls keep working hard and that’s what we told them in the locker room. We told them that they don’t ever have to worry about whether or not they give it everything they had in this game, because they gave us every ounce of effort they had. Unfortunately, the shots just didn’t fall for us tonight and that was really the big difference.”

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Midland Dow’s Abby Rey (44) fouls Hudsonville’s Jaci Tubergen (33) during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

The Chargers will graduate two starters from this year’s squad in Jada Garner and Chloe McVey, but the impact the two senior leaders have had on the program long outweighs their stat sheet contributions.

“I think being in the first Final Four in program history is definitely a new standard as a team,” said Theisen. “This group has worked really hard these past few seasons, especially the seniors, and have won three district championships, two regional titles and now, they have a Final Four appearance to hang their hat on and it’s something that they’re going to remember forever.

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Hudsonville’s Eva Joldersma (21) and Midland Dow’s Abby Rey (44) fight for the ball during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

“I’m just really proud of this team. They are an unbelievable group, and I’m going to miss coaching them. I’m so happy for what they’ve accomplished, and in what they’ve been able to do, bringing the whole community together and, having something for them to root for right now with everything going on.”

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Hudsonville’s Alaina Diaz (23) looks to pass the ball while being guarded by Midland Dow’s Jada Garner (24) during their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game against Midland Dow at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

© Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Hudsonville celebrates after defeating Midland Dow, 49-37, in their MHSAA Division 1 semifinal basketball game at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

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