FOWLER, Mich. (WLNS) – The path to defending the Division 4 state title wasn’t going to be an easy one for the Fowler girls basketball team.

The Eagles ended the regular season with only three loses and ranked third in Division 4. Destined to make another run to the Breslin Center, there was one issue. With a district title on the line, Fowler would need to make it past top-ranked Portland St. Patrick, who beat the Eagles twice in the regular season.

Fowler indeed proved how tough it is to beat a team three times in a season. In a back-and-forth game, the Eagles came away with a 50-41 win to advance to the regional tournament.

Avery Koenigsknecht knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with under two minutes remaining, showing the change in confidence in the third game versus the first two.

“I needed to have more energy and more confidence,” Koenigsknecht said. “In the first two games, I would not have had the confidence to shoot that one shot that I did at Lansing Christian.”

Fowler senior guard Mia Riley said, “We knew we could do it, but we just needed that reassuring factor of beating them, to really advance in the tournament.”

“Oh, this team has an extreme amount of confidence,” Fowler coach Nate Goerge said. “That’s one of the things that we talked about as a coaching staff. I knew they would be prepared and ready once the tournament rolled around.”

What also made Friday’s win special for the Eagles was that they did it in front of a full house at Lansing Christian High School. Last season, when Fowler won the state title, the crowds were limited due to COVID-19. So, the Eagles made sure to put on a show and soak in the envirnoment.

“It was so rewarding, because last year we made such a big run for like the first time ever, and no fans could come watch,” Riley said. “We went to the Breslin and there was like a total of 100 people there.”

Koenigsknecht, “The people at Lansing Christian said there was 1,000 seats and over 900 tickets were sold. So, that was really cool.”

Goerge said, “That’s another reason I’m so happy for them, that they got to go through that, given the reduction in crowd size last year.”