Vikings able to turn steals into points with full court pressure defense during 58-42 win
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Our defensive intensity definitely aided in our ability to score points. We turned Boyne City over pretty regularly with our full court pressure, and our girls did a great job of turning those possessions into easy buckets. Offensively we have been working very hard to cut down on our turnovers and on Tuesday we took very good care of the ball. With less than 20 turnovers, we were able to turn more possessions into more shots and score more points." – Sparky Nitchman, Grayling High School Varsity Girls Basketball Coach
It was a close game early – at halftime, the score was Vikings 21, Ramblers 20 – but Grayling pulled away in the second half to win by 16 points, 58-42, vs. Boyne City in a Lake Michigan Conference varsity girls basketball contest hosted by Grayling High School on Tuesday night.
Grayling trailed by one, 12-11, after the first eight minutes of regulation. The Vikings led by one, 21-20, after 16 minutes of play.
The Ramblers opened the third period with a 6-0 run. Grayling scored two on a put-back by Madison Longendyke. Boyne City scored, extending its lead back to five.
Natalie Amy hit a three-pointer for Grayling at the 6:00 mark. Amy stole the ball and scored on a lay-up. The Vikings got the ball back with another steal and Amy hit one of two from the free throw line.
Grayling scored with jump shots by Molly Leslie and Mallory Hatfield at the 2:28 mark and 1:20 mark, respectively. Amy scored for the Vikings on a drive to the basket. Erin Prosser hit a three-pointer for GHS in the final seconds of the third quarter. Boyne City made a lay-up at the buzzer.
Going into the fourth period, Grayling had a 38-33 advantage.
The Vikings scored the first points of the fourth quarter with a jumper by Prosser and a jump shot by Amy. The Ramblers scored on a put-back.
Grayling led 42-35 with 6:18 left in the game.
A 6-0 run – the series included an inside shot by Prosser, two free throws from Amy, and two free throws from Hatfield – gave the Vikings a 48-35 lead with 4:47 left in regulation.
Boyne City scored on a lay-up. The Ramblers made two free throws at the 3:01 mark. Grayling led by nine, 48-39.
Hatfield scored for GHS on a put-back. Boyne City hit a three-pointer at the 2:17 mark to pull within eight.
Grayling outscored the Ramblers 8-0 in the game’s final 2:16. The series included five points by Hatfield, a put-back by Kaitlin Bennett, and one free throw from Leslie.
The Vikings won 58-42.
According to the team, Amy had 15 points, eight steals, and six assists vs. Boyne City. Hatfield had seven rebounds. Esa Powers had seven rebounds and four steals.
Going into the contest vs. Boyne City, Grayling was averaging 33.5 points per game with point totals of 32, 35, 35, and 32. What was the difference in Tuesday’s effort? Coach Sparky Nitchman said cutting down on turnovers and generating takeaways on defense with full court pressure were keys to the win.
“Our defensive intensity definitely aided in our ability to score points. We turned Boyne City over pretty regularly with our full court pressure, and our girls did a great job of turning those possessions into easy buckets. Offensively we have been working very hard to cut down on our turnovers and on Tuesday we took very good care of the ball. With less than 20 turnovers, we were able to turn more possessions into more shots and score more points,” Coach Nitchman said.
It was Grayling’s first win of the 2016-2017 season.
“Starting 0-4 clearly wasn’t our plan, but I think the girls were able to take a lot of positives from our losses. We were competitive in three of our first four games, and their improvement in a lot of key areas was evident. While we never want to lose a game, the nonconference portion of the season was a great opportunity for the girls to get acclimated to our defense and full-court pressure, and they took advantage of that opportunity,” Coach Nitchman said.
Grayling, after starting the year with four nonconference opponents, will now get into its Lake Michigan Conference schedule. Tuesday’s victory vs. the Ramblers was the first league game of the season for the Vikings.
“Always nice to start off the conference slate with a win, nice boost of confidence heading into the 14-game conference schedule. I think it showed our girls that we can compete, and that we can close out games. The LMC is one of the toughest conferences from top to bottom, but if we can replicate our intensity from Tuesday’s game every night, we will put ourselves in a great position to win a lot of games,” Coach Nitchman said.
The Vikings (1-4 overall, 1-0 league) will host the Charlevoix Rayders on Friday, Jan. 6, at 5:30 p.m.