Updated: Mar 16
Lance Campbell said his team was up for a tall task Wednesday night.
“It was just a huge obstacle going into that game giving up so much size. The shortest guy in their starting lineup was 6-foot-3,” the Croswell-Lexington boys basketball head coach said. “When you shake their hands before the game, they’re not just big, they’re put together pretty good too.”
Cros-Lex took on Goodrich in the Division 2 Region 16 championship, a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal.
And while the Pioneers held their own in the first half, the Martians opened the second half on a 6-0 run to lead 24-17. With size and momentum, they would go on to win 56-39.
“There was never a lack of effort. They played hard,” Campbell said of his team. “We were focused on stopping two guys…who each average about 20 points a game, and we held them to 14 points combined.”
Offensively, senior Trey Kolakovich led the Pioneers in the loss with 15 points while seniors Mitchell Geiger and Zachary Kroetsch added nine and eight, respectively. The trio is part of nine seniors on this year’s squad which finished the year 22-4 with league and district titles.
Kolakovich, a four-year varsity veteran, has experienced some of the best years in the program’s history. He finishes his career with an 83-7 overall record. Kroetsch and fellow senior Donovan McDonald joined him a year later to end their careers at 63-6.
“I believe Cros-Lex right now in the last four years has the most wins out of any team in the state of Michigan. If we’re not on top, we’re in the top five for certain,” Campbell said. “Now when kids think of Cros-Lex [boys basketball], they expect to compete for championships and be good because of those kids and the kids before them.”
And kids like Geiger or Drew Hosterman who could be counted on for big buckets, according to Campbell, or Trevor Soule who brought energy, hustle, and toughness.
Or fellow seniors Bradley Jacobs, Landon Butler, and Sam VanderBee.
“Bradley is a kid who’s been around for four years and continues to come to practice every day and works hard. I wish Sam [who joined the program late] came a little earlier to get that 6-foot-9 frame a little more acclimated to basketball,” Campbell said. “And Landon never had a bad day in his life I don't think. He comes every day and gives everything he’s got. He’s a great teammate and so focused on the team’s success.”
Thanks to these athletes and many others, since 2019-20, the Pioneers have won four league, three district, and one regional titles.
Kroetsch and Kolakovich will join Hunter Soper ('20) next fall on the list of former Pioneers playing at the college level. Soper is at Lake Superior State University, while Kroetsch and Kolakovich will be attending Hiram and Olivet Colleges, respectively.
“I’m proud of them, they're great young men,” Campbell said. “You never question their passion and love for the game. They play with great energy, unfortunately last night we just couldn’t make enough shots.”
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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