By: Daniel Stickradt
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Midland Calvary Baptist dominates in girls sports, adds another MACS state crown to resume
BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — A mark of a solid program is how it can handle the graduation of seven players and still compete or win championships.
Small school Midland Calvary Baptist more than fits that bill.
The Kings recently captured their third straight Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I girls basketball state championship and coupled with the school’s three varsity girls sports — volleyball, basketball and soccer — have won eight MACS state titles in under a three-year span. The girls soccer team will be gunning for a three-peat later this spring.
On the basketball court, top-ranked Calvary Baptist rolled past third-ranked Davison Faith Baptist, 70-38, at Clarkston Springfield Christian High School in this year’s MACS-I state finals despite losing seven players off of last year’s squad and carrying just two seniors on a 13-player varsity roster this season.
The 70 points was also a season-high, while the 32-point win came after the Kings had defeated Faith Baptist twice in the regular season by 11 points both times.
“We lost some of our leadership, but we definitely had some talent back this season,” offered Calvary Baptist coach Heather Ouderkirk, who prepped at nearby Class C Sanford-Meridian High School. “We have some nice players who stepped up and players who knew their roles on the team.”
Calvary Baptist, which held a 46-36 edge on the boards in the finals, opened with a 20-6 run and never pulled the foot off the pedal in the convincing win. The Kings led 33-18 at the half in the title-clinching victory and pulled away in the second half with a 37-20 edge.
Seniors Tara Lewis and Brianna Simmons and juniors Tamrah Konieczka and Jenna Wallenbeck have been on all three girls basketball state championship teams, while several others were key contributors this winter.
“We’re still young — just two seniors,” admitted Heather Ouderkirk, whose team finished 23-1. “We had a different look, but some of our top players returned this season. We had to mature a lot this season and we came a long ways.”
Calvary Baptist opened the campaign with a loss to Lansing CHAP home school. The Kings did not taste defeat again, even defeating some MHSAA Class D schools.
Enrollment-wise, Calvary Baptist would be mid-sized Class D school if it were a member of the MHSAA.
“I think we learned from that loss. I think they saw that we had a lot of work to do and that we were not the same team as last year,” said Ouderkirk. “The girls worked really hard after that loss and we got better and better throughout the season.”
Sophomore guard Courtney Warner scored a game-high 19 points and four steals to pace the Kings in the MACS finals. Konieczka, a 5-9 junior forward who recorded 10 double-doubles this season, scored 13 points and nine rebounds, and junior guard Jenna Wallenbeck added 12 points for the Kings.
Lewis, a college soccer prospect, contributed nine points and 14 rebounds, and sophomore guard Abbie Ouderkirk finished with nine points and six rebounds in the finals.
For the season, Konieczka averaged 13.9 points a game, while Warner followed with 10.7 points an outing. Several other players were steady performers all season.
Junior Savannah Wallace was a defensive spark plug and vocal leader for the Kings. Freshman Bailey Hunger, a 5-foot-11 post player and the team’s tallest player, averaged over eight rebounds an outing and showed poise down the stretch.
“I think being a small school you do have some advantages. Not only are you friends with kids in your own grade, but you are friends with everyone in the school,” noted Ouderkirk. “You are around everybody every day. We have a lot of girls who play two or three sports, and they work out together in the off season. They are in class together, in (bible) studies together. They are around each other the whole year and that can create amazing chemistry.
““I think next year we’ve got a great chance of doing it again,” continued Ouderkirk. “We only lose two players and we have some good, solid players coming up from our junior high. We have a couple of eighth graders who I think can step in next year as freshmen and contribute.”
A total of 11 of the 13 girls basketball players also suit up for the Kings girls soccer team — a program not only going after their third straight MACS crown, but the ninth in a row for the girls sports programs at Calvary Baptist.
“We have a lot of girls playing soccer, too. The pressure is on them (to win),” said Ouderkirk.
The one change for next season will to beef up the schedule in each sport. The Kings left the Central Michigan Christian Athletic Conference two years ago because the school dominated the conference in most sports.
Midland Calvary Baptist would like to play more Class D and Class C schools, including public high schools.
“That will help us gain some recognition,” offered Ouderkirk. “It’s hard when your a small school (around 100 high school students) and not in the (MHSAA). Schools are sometimes reluctant to play us. This year we had Akron-Fairgrove on our schedule. We would like to go over to the Thumb area more and play some public schools, some harder competition, which will make us a better (program).”