Midway through the second quarter of a girls basketball regional final last week, St. Ignace's Kelley Wright hit a three-pointer to break a 20-all tie with Posen and begin an 18-0 run. Posen went into halftime down by 16.
Suddenly the battle of the last two unbeaten Class D teams seemed a little one-sided and many of the fans in the packed Gaylord High gym probably felt St. Ignace was on its way to a rout.
But Posen had other ideas, because after all this is March Madness. But a late rally and a career-night from Korynn Hincka weren't enough and Posen lost 74-68.
For the past three seasons, I've seen the Posen girls team's last game of the season and twice it's been in a regional final.
As heartbreaking as those losses have been for Posen, the success the Vikings have had in that span is astounding. Posen has gone 66-6 and racked up three district titles along with three North Star League crowns.
The Vikings' regional final showdown this year with St. Ignace was one of the best basketball games I've ever seen and if it's possible to be impressive in defeat Posen was just that. St. Ignace has won 17 games by 40 points or more this season and 10 games by 50 points or more. The fact that Posen only lost by six and kept the game so close at the end, shows that the Vikings aren't just a flash in the pan. In fact Posen is only one of two opponents the Saints haven't beaten by double digits.
"Those kids, you can't tell them they don't belong on the same floor with a team that should probably be a Class A team, that's how good that team is," Posen coach Karl Momrik said after that game. "What does that say about Posen with 84 kids?"
That's certainly a question worth asking, especially when the Saints' next closest margin of victory after a 42-36 win over Climax Scotts on Thursday was 14 points against Class A Brighton early in the year. Not even AP Class D Player of the Year Lexi Gussert and Crystal Falls Forest Park came as close as Posen did.
After the game, Momrik said his team proved its doubters wrong. The fact that there are doubters is a bit of a surprise I think. Yes, St. Ignace is a multiple time state champion. Yes, St. Ignace has been the top-ranked Class D team all season. Yes, the Saints are a darn good team if you ask me. And yes, conventional wisdom might have said the Vikings would get rolled, but that's why games are played on the court, not on paper.
If you're going to lose, you might as well lose to the best and Posen's done that. Three of their losses in high stakes playoff games, but they've also pulled off some big wins too including a win over Cedarville this season and a regional semifinal win over Brimley last year.
The Vikings have had good teams the past three seasons, but they've run up against buzzsaw teams with lots of depth. The first two years, Gaylord St. Mary had the likes of Karli Jacob, Kari Borowiak and Mary Spyhalski. This year's St. Ignace squad boasted the likes of Sarah Cullip, Abbey Ostman and Wright, an AAU teammate of Hincka and a fellow first-team all-state pick.
The Vikings' success is downright impressive and speaks to two things: How good a job Momrik and his staff do running the program and the dedication and talent of Posen's players. None of that success comes if players don't buy in to what the coaches are trying to teach. On the flip side, Posen has had incredible talent in the last few years and it still amazes me that a school with less than 100 kids is able to produce such competitive teams year in and year out.
I've seen Hincka play for three seasons now and in that time I've seen some impressive games, but this year she had a season for the ages, breaking several school scoring records. What she did against the Saints was truly remarkable because she rose to the occasion and played the game of her life when her team needed it the most. She notched a career-high 40 points, including 22 in the third quarter when her teammates kept feeding her the ball inside.
Hincka still has her senior season left to play and you can bet Posen is going to give its all to make that deep playoff run its craving, especially after this season.
There will be a lot of intriguing questions surrounding Posen in the 2013-14 season.
The Vikings will have Hincka, but they'll also have Ashley Meyers who's developed into a potent outside shooter, Jenna Hincka and Kayla Lenard who got their feet wet at the varsity level this season and Austin Sharpe who was an excellent defender for the Vikings this season.
The future is bright for Posen and like a lot of local basketball fans, I'll be waiting to see what that future holds.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.