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Vote for the Kalamazoo-area basketball Player of the Week (March 2-8)

MLive - GrandRapids/Muskegon/Kalamazoo logo MLive - GrandRapids/Muskegon/Kalamazoo 3/10/2020 By Patrick Nothaft,

KALAMAZOO, MI - The stakes are raised during tournament time, and that’s where we’re at in both the girls and boys high school basketball seasons.

The girls wrapped up their district tourneys last week, while the boys regular season came to a close, setting up an exciting week of playoff basketball.

For some, the pressure is too much to handle, but others thrive with their seasons on the line.

There were plenty of Kalamazoo-area players who relished the big stage over the previous seven days, so follow along to see who stood above the rest from March 2-8, then vote for the Player of the Week.

Readers have unlimited voting until the poll closes at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 14.

Ashton Atwater, Otsego boys

The biggest question mark for Otsego heading into the 2019-20 season was how the Bulldogs would replace star point guard Addison Atwater. As it turns out, the answer was living under the same roof as the program's career assist leader.

Sophomore Ashton Atwater, the younger brother of Addison, has developed into a reliable play maker for the 19-1 Bulldogs, and he had one of his best performances in Thursday's 81-55 Wolverine Conference championship game win over Edwardsburg, in which he tallied 19 points, 11 assists and four steals.

Parker Ellifritz, Thee Rivers boys

The senior guard went off for 31 points in Thursday's 66-53 win over Allegan and became the fifth player in Three Rivers history to reach the 1,000-point milestone. Ellifritz is the first Three Rivers player to reach that mark since Ryan Cottingham in 1990.

Andrew Harris, Paw Paw boys

The senior big man imposed his will in the paint against Sturgis, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in Friday's 68-59 win over the Trojans to send Paw Paw into the playoffs at 8-12.

Kali Heivilin, Three Rivers girls

The junior forward helped Three Rivers claim a district championship and led the Wildcats in the scoring column in each of its first three playoff games, beginning with a 14-point, five-rebound, four-steal performance in the quarterfinal matchup with Buchanan, followed by a 23-point, 16 rebounds, four-steal, two-block effort in the semifinals against Niles and ending with a 20-point, 13-rebound, three-steal, two-block outing in the district title game against Edwardsburg.

Jason Jergens, Marcellus Howardsville Christian boys

The junior guard opened the week with 27 points and nine assists in Tuesday's 63-25 win over Burr Oak, then added 16 points and four rebounds in Thursday's 46-45 win over Benton Harbor Countryside Academy.

Krystina Kasson, Kalamazoo Hackett girls

The 6-foot-1 junior made her presence felt on both ends of the court throughout the district tournament, opening with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the quarterfinals against Potterville, then added 23 points and 14 rebounds in the semifinal matchup with Delton Kellogg, before closing out a district title win with 11 points and 13 rebounds against rival Kalamazoo Christian.

Perhaps the most impressive part of her week was the fact that Kasson averaged more than 30 minutes per game during districts.

Josiah Kenney, Climax-Scotts boys

The senior opened the final week of the regular season with 22 points and four rebounds in Tuesday's win over Galesburg-Augusta, then added 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in Thursday's 79-52 win over Jackson Christian to put the Panthers at 11-9 heading into the playoffs.

Joanna Larsen, Centreville girls

The 6-foot-1 senior saw her high school basketball career come to an end with a district finals loss to Schoolcraft, but Larsen has no reason to hang her head, as she led the Bulldogs to a 21-2 record this season and tallied 14 points in her final game, after erupting for 33 points and 15 rebounds against White Pigeon in the district semifinals.

Abby Long, Portage Central girls

The senior point guard opened her week with 11 points in Monday's Division 1 district quarterfinal win over St. Joseph, then helped the Mustangs capture their second consecutive district title with 22 points and seven rebounds in Friday's 46-26 victory over Kalamazoo Central.

Gabi Saxman, Schoolcraft girls

Some of the best basketball players can impact a game without the ball in their hands, and while senior Gabi Saxman is the Eagles' unquestioned floor general, she can also lead Schoolcraft without putting up a bunch of points. Her tenacious defense helped Schoolcraft hold Marcellus to eight points in the district semifinals, and she managed to outscore the Wildcats with 18 points of her own.

In Friday's district championship game against Centreville, Saxman held Bulldogs' point guard Kenleigh West-Wing to five points in Schoolcraft's 38-31 win.

Kaeler Stafne, Marcellus boys

The senior forward closed his final regular season contest on a high note, tallying 25 points and 16 rebounds in Tuesday's 51-50 win over Eau Claire to send the Wildcats into the postseason at 15-5.

Caleb Taylor, Richland Gull Lake boys

The junior point guard closed out Gull Lake's regular season with 24 points, four rebounds and two assists in Tuesday's 62-39 win over Comstock to give the Blue Devils an 11-9 record heading into districts.

Sam Todd, Centreville boys

The junior guard helped Centreville wrap up a share of the Southwest 10 title with 22 points in Tuesday's 68-44 win over Hartford, giving the Bulldogs a 16-4 record heading into the playoffs.

Brenden Williamson, South Haven boys

The senior guard opened the week with 24 points in Tuesday’s loss to Holland, then added 17 points, three steals and two assists in the Rams’ 74-61 loss to Dowagiac in the battle for third place in the Wolverine Conference.

More Kalamazoo-area high school hoops coverage

See 2020 Kalamazoo-area boys basketball district tournament pairings, schedule

Six Kalamazoo-area girls high school basketball teams capture district titles

Joanna Larsen’s 33-point double-double headlines Kalamazoo district semifinal hoops

Schoolcraft caps perfect season to headline Tuesday’s Kalamazoo hoops action

Lockdown defense leads Kalamazoo-area girls hoops teams in district openers

Kalamazoo-area boys hoops rankings: See who’s on the rise for week of March 2

Kalamazoo-area girls hoops rankings: See who’s on the rise heading into playoffs


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