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  • Writer's pictureMWPA News Wire

MWPA Quarterfinal Preview of Pioneer vs. Grand Haven

The State Runners up from this past June have returned to the State Tournament, this time, in the second seed in the East Region to face off with the surging Grand Haven Buccaneers out of the West Region in the third spot.

Meet the East Region Runner-Up Pioneer Pioneers

Record: 31-7

Prior Match Ups: Pioneer leads 1-0 (October 15, 10-3 win)

This Year: East Region Runners Up, District 4 Champions

Head Coach: Don Packard

Award Winners:

Gabe Sanchez Burks - East Region First Team

Marton Flautner - East Region Second Team

Calvin Anderson (G) - East Region Second Team

Jensen Wood - East Region Honorable Mention

Under the direction of Don Packard (yep, still here. Still awesome), the Pioneers are back in the state tournament. With some key returners from the 2022 Spring State Runner Up finish including the dynamic Gabe Sanchez Burks, expect the Pioneers to be a tough beat in the state tournament yet again.

It hasn't been perfect, but Pioneer seems to peak late in the year, and is unafraid of putting themselves in positions to learn how to play in all situations. Despite their sparkling record, they did get plenty of chances to play from behind, even, and play in tight games late. Nothing beats experience, and the Pioneers, one of the state's three 30+ win teams, have plenty of it as they prepare to take on the Grand Haven Buccaneers.

Meet the West Region Third Seed Grand Haven Buccaneers

Record: 19-16

Prior Match Ups: Pioneer leads 1-0 (October 15, 10-3 loss)

This Year: West Region Third Seed

Head Coach: Bill Hamm

Award Winners:

Evan Kasbohm - West Region Second Team

Kinley Tubergen (G) - West Region Second Team

Braxton Sewell -West Region Honorable Mention

You have to hand it to Grand Haven, at several different junctures of this season, it looked like we might not be talking about them this week. They showed some TRUE grit this year to be back in the State Tournament yet again. They were 4-6 through their first ten games, albeit an extremely challenging slate, the Buccaneers went 15-10 the rest of the way, and put together another strong regional tournament to come out of the West sitting third with a win over statewide second ranked Jenison.

They play in a district with #1 Hudsonville and #2 Jenison, as well as a scrappy Zeeland crew. They avenged an earlier season loss to East Grand Rapids in the Regional Quarterfinal to qualify for the state tournament again this year. Nothing seems to faze Bill Hamm's group. Lose a game in a tough spot? They've almost always seemed to have a response this year to those. By no means should anyone expect this game to be lopsided in either direction. It may very well be the most evenly matched quarterfinal of the bunch.

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