History-making Pirates head to Final Four 

March 15, 2023

Photo courtesy of Chrissy Klotz

History-making Pirates head to Final Four 

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — The Hart girls basketball team is the first Pirate squad ever to appear in the Final Four of the state tournament at MSU’s Breslin Center.

After a 45-41 win over top-ranked Buchanan in the Division 3 state quarterfinals at Bangor High School Monday evening March 14, the Pirates are Breslin-bound.

The defense-driven team captured the Pirates’ first regional title in 32 years when it knocked off two-time state runner-up Kent City 37-34 in the regional finals last Thursday at Shelby High School. En route to state competition, the Pirates gathered conference and district titles.

“The girls are very hardworking individuals,” said Coach Travis Rosema. “They put in the time in the summer, not only with basketball skills, but conditioning in the weight room. They’re just really dedicated. 

“This team has advanced further than any other team in school history. It’s a testament to the work they have put in since they were little.

“There is a lot of positive energy and a great culture going on right now. There are a lot of winning teams in Hart,” said the coach. “Success breeds success.

“It all goes by so fast sometimes I forget to take it in and live in the moment, but it was incredible last night,” said the coach of Tuesday’s quarterfinal game. “We went in down at halftime and we’ve been in that situation a lot this year. The girls had that belief and continued to play hard. We knew we could try to spread them out and make them guard us. I felt they couldn’t guard our athletes, and they have a couple tremendous athletes.” One “tall task” was fending off Bangor’s 6’4” Faith Carson, an Ohio State University commit. “They didn’t have five girls that could match up with our five girls that we put on the court.

“We have tremendous athletes, and a lot of it is the ball pressure we put on people. (Sophomore) Addi Hovey had to do the job of guarding (Carson), and the rest of the team did a tremendous job of creating ball pressure and making it tough to get (Carson) the ball.”

“We’ve had this group of girls that’s been together forever,” said senior Aspen Boutell. “This is always what we’ve been dreaming for. This is one of the big things we wanted to do is go to the Breslin and go farther than other Hart team.

“We’re really good defensively, and we’re a really close group. I think that shows on the court how well we play as a team. Against Buchanan, Addi had to defend the 6-foot-4 girl, and it took everybody else to play help defense. Addi did a great job, and our whole team really worked together.”

“It’s so amazing,” said junior Abby Hicks. “Just the energy that we had last night and the community that was all there; our bench; there was just everything going on. Defense is a big strength, but so is our energy. We can get the gym going.” 

“Aspen is one of the best on-ball defenders in Division 3,” said the coach. In addition to her defense skills, the senior provides leadership. “It’s like having a coach on the court.”

“Abby is a scorer and defensively she gets after it. She broke the single season record for most assists. She has the most assists in school history and the most steals in school history. She’s 15 points a game; 6 rebounds; 4 assists; and 6 steals. She pads the stat line.”

The school district announced that Thursday is a half day of school, so students, staff and families can attend the game. The fan following is so big that it may require two spectator buses, said Rosema.

Not only is the Hart community rallying around this dream team, but so is practically everyone in Oceana County. If the Pirates capture the state title, it would be the first girls basketball team in Oceana County to do so in over 35 years. Walkerville girls won back-to-back state championships in 1987 and 1988.

The Pirates (24-3) face Hemlock (24-3) in the state semifinals Thursday at 2 p.m. The state finals game is Saturday. Rosema is confident his team will push forward. “I wouldn’t bet against my girls.” 

Hart High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team

1  Gabi Nienhuis junior guard

2  Sydney Goodrich junior guard

3  Abby Hicks junior guard

5  Savana Owens senior guard

11 Breslyn Porter sophomore forward

12 Selena Herrera junior forward

13 Molly Dessauer junior forward

14 Pia Huebert senior guard

15 Chloe Coker senior guard/forward

22 Kelsey Copenhaver sophomore guard

23 Mariana VanAgtmael senior guard

24 Addi Hovey sophomore guard/forward

30 Aspen Boutell senior guard

32 MaKayla Rockwell senior forward

33 Rayah Helenhouse junior forward

Head Coach Travis Rosema

Assistant Coaches: Jeff Hovey, Doug Pretty and Balyee Draper.

Hart High School Girls Basketball 2022-23 schedule

11/29 Ludington 43-42 W

12/2 Shelby 60-14 W

12/13 Ravenna 63-15 W

12/16 N. Muskegon 63-17 W

12/20 Kent City 58-52 L

1/3 Holland Christian 62-57 L

1/5 Mason Co. Central 54-38 W

1/10 Hesperia 81-6 W

1/13 Holton 63-35 W

1/16 Manistee 72-31 W

1/19 Montague 45-41 W

1/24 Shelby 56-13 W

1/30 White Cloud 61-27 W

1/31 Morley 55-29 W

2/2 Ravenna 65-29 W

2/6 Potter’s House Wyoming 44-26 W

2/7 N. Muskegon 80-25 W

2/10 Mason Co. Central 51-32 W

2/13 W. MI Christian 62-24 W

2/16 Hesperia 64-7 W

2/21 Lake City 52-41 L

2/24 Holton 55-28 W

3/1 Shelby 70-37 W

3/3 Mason Co. Central 43-34 W

3/7 Northpointe Christian 49-29 W

3/9 Kent City 37-34 W

3/14 Buchanan 45-41 W

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