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Comets Fly By

COLOMA — Coloma used pressure defense to get off to a fast start in Tuesday’s 85-59 boys basketball victory over rival Watervliet.

Zach Goodline took over the rest of the way.

Goodline had 36 points, 10 assists and six steals, and the Comets forced Watervliet into 41 turnovers in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore Division victory.

“We’ve got to hang our hat on defense,” Coloma coach Paul Marfia said. “I think we executed a little bit, and conditioning’s been big for us. We really tried to work on getting in shape this year, kids have been committed to that and I think that made a difference too.”

Watervliet won the girls game of the doubleheader 38-33.

In the boys game, Coloma (4-0 SAC Lakeshore, 6-0) scored the first seven points of the contest. Levi Wilkens had three of his five steals in the first quarter to get the Comets off to a good start.

“I thought Levi Wilkens did a great job setting the tone early,” Marfia said. “He got what we were going to do on defense, and that was big for us. That really just sets the mindset for everyone involved. I’ve never seen anyone score three points but have such an impact, such a thumbprint on the game.”

Coloma led 10-5 before Goodline had his first point, but he then scored the Comets’ next 10 to build a 21-9 lead. Though he made just two 3-pointers, Goodline had success driving to the basket as well as scoring off turnovers.

“I think what happened is being a rivalry game, being Watervliet, he maybe tried to do too much,” Marfia said. “I think at times he was trying to force it and put too much hot sauce on the shot instead of just relaxing and letting the game come to him. I think he calmed down a little bit there at the end and played much better. He’s a kid that works hard and deserves what he’s got out there.”

Watervliet (2-2, 4-2) used an 8-0 run to cut the Comets’ lead to 21-17, but Coloma went up by double digits for good on a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers by Tevon Blazier that made it 36-24. Blazier finished with 12 points.

The Comets dominated the third quarter and built their lead as high 30 in the fourth before removing the starters.

Sheldon Tobar led Watervliet with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jakob Aldrich scored 10, and Daniel Cluster added nine points, 11 boards and three blocks. The taller Panthers won the rebounding battle 35-28.

“We didn’t take care of the ball well, and credit to them, they’re a pretty good defensive team,” Watervliet coach Chris Prom said. “Their man-to-man pressure was causing some havoc tonight.

“(Goodline) had probably five steals that he converted for layups. I thought we did well on him at times, and rebounded the ball well when he missed some of those, but he’s a great player.”

In the girls game, Madalyn Hutchins put Watervliet (4-0, 6-1) in control early. She hit three straight 3-pointers for a 9-0 run, putting the Panthers up 13-6.

“She hit three straight 3s, and she can do that,” Watervliet coach Jason Forrester said. “She hadn’t done that yet this year, but that’s huge. That’s kind of the same thing as last year, every game we’d have someone different step up, and tonight it was Madalyn Hutchins.”

Watervliet led the rest of the way, but Coloma (3-1, 4-3) stayed close. The Comets pulled to within two points on four different occasions in the fourth quarter, the last being a 3-pointer by Morgan Wagner that made it 35-33. Wagner scored a team-high 10 points and Kayla Yore added eight.

“You can’t pick and choose when you play hard,” Coloma coach Fred Paulsen said. “Our ceiling is only so high. Now when we play hard, I think we’re pretty good, we make things happen. But we weren’t very aggressive tonight, especially offensively. That zone spread us out and we never hit the gaps.”