Nate Schneider

Sports Scene

What stands out immediately when perusing the game-by-game scores for the DeWitt girls basketball team this season is that it is incredibly difficult for the opposition to score.

The lone team to eclipse 50 points against the Panthers is undefeated East Lansing, who set DeWitt to its only defeat with a last-second shot in a 52-51 decision.

Aside from that heartbreaking defeat, the Panthers are without a blemish and have held every other opponent to 44 or fewer points. The season opened with a commanding 52-4 victory over Lansing Eastern, which set the tone for an elite defensive team.

DeWitt is now 17-1 on the season following a 51-35 home victory over Haslett on Feb. 16.

“We knew we had a chance to be a pretty good team returning eight of 10 players,” DeWitt head coach Bill McCullen said. “But we also lost our starting guard from last season’s strong team, so we knew replacing that leadership and ball handling would be our biggest challenge. Plus they were really good defenders. So we had a couple girls who had to change their role a little bit and do a little bit more here and there. I think it’s starting to come together.”

Helping matters immensely was the return of All-Stater Grace George from last season’s 21-2 team. George, who is committed to Wayne State University, is averaging 15.7 per game.

Also back in the fold are a pair of junior post players in Annie McIntosh (11.4 ppg) and Sydney Mills (8.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg), who are not the tallest interior players around but add athleticism to a team that gets by just fine despite not having anyone over 6-foot-0.

DeWitt will look to avenge not only its only loss of the season in districts, but also last year’s district final when it lost a 48-47 heartbreaker to East Lansing.

The Panthers recently clinched the Capital Area Activities Activities Red with the win over Haslett, their fourth consecutive conference championship and 12th in 13 years.

“Our conference is really tough with us, Haslett, St. Johns and Waverly all having been to the Breslin Center for the state finals in recent years,” McCullen stated. “It really helps prepare us for the postseason with the competition we see in our own conference.”

DeWitt opens postseason play in the district quarterfinals versus St. Johns, the third meeting this season between the two rivals. The Panthers won the first two meetings by scores of 56-44 and 51-44.