By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

A solid zone defense and some timely buckets came in handy for the North Muskegon Norse on Monday night.

That combination propelled North Muskegon to a 33-28 nonleague girls basketball victory over visiting Western Michigan Christian. It was NM’s first victory of the season.

“I feel like in the first two games, anytime there was pressure – no matter what point of the game – in a pressure situation we could not come up with a big bucket,” Norse coach Doug Clark said.

Big buckets by Abby Clark and Morgan Seaberg and free throws from Clark, Hannah Meier and Alli Wierda turned a 24-all tie with 3 minutes remaining into a five-point victory.

The effective zone kept the middle clogged up and that meant the Warriors’ 1-2 scoring punch of Rachel Bruinsma and Vanessa Eekhoff had to work hard for everything they got. Bruinsma scored a game-high 11 points and Eekhoff was limited to just three.

“We were trying to shut down the middle and shutting down Bruinsma and Eekhoff,” Clark said. “We were trying to keep the ball away from her (Eekhoff) and I thought we did a good job at knowing where Bruinsma was flowing.”

Neither team could gain much momentum throughout the game. The teams were tied at 8-all after on quarter and WMC took a 16-15 halftime lead on a late bucket by Alyssa Wright.

The teams went back and forth throughout the third quarter. North Muskegon led 21-20 after three quarters.

Midway through the final quarter, Weirda gave NM a 23-21 lead on a short bank shot, but WMC’s Jessica Knoll canned a 3-pointer 50 seconds later to give the Warriors a one-point lead.

And that’s just the game unfolded for much of the night.

Bruinsma made one free throw with 2:08 left, but that would be the last time WMC would  own the lead. Clark hit a bucket with 2:56 left then two free throws with 2:23 left. Seaberg scored on a 10-foot banks hot then Meier split a pair of free throws with 48 seconds left.

“North Muskegon made shots when they needed to,” WMC coach Mike Henry said. “That was a big key right there. They got some easy shots.”

After Meier made it 31-25 with 48 seconds left, that pretty much sealed the victory for North Muskegon (1-2).

Seaberg and Wierda had nine points each for North Muskegon. Wierda and Meier had five rebounds each and freshman Olivia Duncan three three steals.

“We made mistakes that weren’t forced, to a great extent,” Henry said. “Sometimes in the middle of the floor with no pressure at all, we made mistakes. Inside we made mistakes I thought we should not make.”

WMC is now 1-1.