ANDERSEN: Despite loss, Posen can be proud of great season

SAULT STE. MARIE-Even as her body ached from the bumps and bruises of a long playoff run, everything from a banged up elbow to sore knees, Korynn Hincka kept playing.

“I was definitely tired. But I knew it could be my last game, so I had to go out and give it my all,” Hincka said. “My body has hurt so much lately. I don’t know how I got up from some of those (falls) because those hurt really bad.”

Even as it became evident the Trojans were headed to their second semifinal appearance in three years, Hincka kept playing.

She drove in for a pair of buckets as the final minute began, the last one cutting the Trojans’ lead to 63-55.

The final minutes ticked down and a chant rained down from elated Crystal Falls Forest Park fans in the crowded Sault Ste. Marie gym.

“U-P Power, U-P Power.”

But Hincka kept on playing.

Even as Hincka fought for every rebound, tried to score on every putback and do all that she could to will Posen to victory once more, Tuesday would not be the Vikings’ night.

What more can you say about Hincka’s career that hasn’t already been said? She was Posen’s backbone for four years and been a part of the team since the 8th grade. She’scollected big moments by the dozen and dazzled opponents and fans alike. She finishes her career as the program’s all-time leading scorer among other school records, she’s the all-time leading scorer in the North Star League and she leaves a legacy as one of the best basketball players Northeast Michigan has ever seen.

In a matchup between two skilled Class D teams with two of the best players in the state squaring off, one of their brilliant careers had to come to an end and unfortunately it was Hincka’s.

Her final effort wearing Posen’s Red and White was a valiant one: 25 points and presumably a double-digit night on the boards, all while defending Lexi Gussert, who was announced as this year’s Miss Basketball on Wednesday and was also the AP Class D girls Player of the Year.

Posen’s loss Tuesday was a heartbreaker for sure. No team gets that far in a season and loses without feeling sad that it’s all over; especially for a group that just turned in the best season in the history of the program. But as Posen coach Karl Momrik was quick to point out, the loss doesn’t diminish their accomplishments this year.

There was another perfect run through the regular season and another North Star League title, not to mention a winning streak in league play that’s reached about five dozen games at this point. There was also the fifth straight district title.

Oh yes, there was that regional title as well.

Five years of frustration finally ended last Thursday as Posen won that elusive regional crown. The Vikings turned up the defense and shut down Brimley to get over that hump. It’s no wonder when Momrik was presented the regional trophy he proudly raised it over his head with all enthusiasm of a child getting their favorite toy on Christmas.

“When I was looking at the clock and there was a few minutes left, there was less time and less time and we were still winning,” Posen senior Austin Sharpe said on Monday. “That last 30 seconds was like, “Oh my God, we just did it! We finally conquered this!”

Up until this year, I’d seen Posen’s last game of the season three years running. All three years the Vikings had good teams and all three years they ran into the very best teams in Class D. There was back-to-back losses against loaded Gaylord St. Mary teams and then last year’s classic against No. 1 St. Ignace.

But this year was different. This year was Posen’s best chance to shine and the Vikings took full advantage of it and made history.

The scene was a little different Tuesday. Rather than elation and being one step closer to a state title, many of Posen’s players were in tears, even as they were congratulated on a fine season. For Posen’s seniors-Hincka, Sharpe and Ashley Meyers-there was also the realization that their high school basketball careers were over.

But those seniors made sure to make their last game a memorable one. If there was ever a time when Posen’s seniors need to be clutch, this was it and they came through.

Along with Hincka’s big night, Sharpe scored 10 points and turned in a solid defensive effort. Meyers finished with 14 points and drained four three-pointers. Whenever Posen needed a big shot, Meyers seemed to provide one. She drained a trey in the first quarter to give Posen a four-point lead. She canned two more in the second quarter to help tie the game 22-22. In the third quarter she drained another one in the waning seconds to send Posen to the fourth quarter with a 47-46 lead.

As a team, the Vikings reached even higher highs and once again put Posen on the map this season. They were the No. 2 team in Class D all year and proved they could hang with the No. 1 team again this season. Last year Posen took St. Ignace down to the wire and lost by six. This year the Vikings went toe-to-toe with the Trojans until the final few minutes and ended up playing Crystal Falls to its closest margin of victory so far, 16 points.

As tough a pill to swallow as Tuesday’s loss was for Posen, the Vikings can take some solace in the fact that they lost to a good team. A 48-2 clip in two years with the two losses coming against a No. 1 team is amazing and if anything it has made people take notice of Posen even more.

“A lot of teams think we’re a small school and we can’t do it, but we proved to a lot of people that we can,” Hincka said. “It definitely shows what Posen’s really made of. We got stuck playing the No. 1 team two years in a row, but we gave it our all.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.