Tigers again show grit and hustle

The Howards Grove Tigers lost decisively to Whitefish Bay in Saturday’s Division 4 boys sectional basketball finals but have a lot to be proud of.

The Tigers could’ve folded after getting down 27-4 after one quarter against the three-time defending state champions but, as they have all season, they fought until the end. HGHS again lived up to its motto, “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”

It was impressive to see the Tigers’ grit and hustle throughout the game, even though it was an uphill battle pretty much from the start against the powerful Knights. The play which epitomized the Tigers’ determination and never-say-die mindset came in the second half when Tiger junior Derrick Grimm, a 5-foot-8 guard, outhustled 6-10 forward Diamond Stone to snatch a loose ball and draw a foul against Stone.

“When you’re down 27-4, it’s easy to give up on each other. We stayed together and didn’t give up on each other,” said Tiger senior guard Zach Fritz.

The Tigers had never seen such a talented, big team such as Dominican during the season and it took while for them to adjust to the Knights’ quickness and size. After settling in, the Tigers played Dominican fairly event after the opening period.

“We weren’t going to let them see any fear in our eyes. We wanted to show them we were going to play. We were a little star-struck at first,” said Fritz.

“Dominican is a good team. They have size and they create for each other [on offense].”

Knight head coach Derek Berger was impressed with the Tigers.

“Howards Grove is a great team. I saw them a few times this year and they do really good things on offense,” said Berger.

“They have some real good players. Ethan Brinkman [senior guard] is really good.

“I give Howards Grove a lot of credit. They played us tough and they never quit. They kept playing hard and battled on defense,” said Berger.

“They got to all of the loose balls and they made some open shots. They are a well-coached team.”

The Tigers and their fans will take many great memories from the season which included the program’s first Central Lakeshore Conference championship since 1992 and the second appearance in the sectional finals in the past four seasons.

“I loved playing with this team. It was so fun throughout the year. We stayed together and got to the sectional finals,” said Fritz.

The Tigers’ teamwork, hustle and determination paid off this past season and the team should be proud of what it accomplished.

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