By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

Reeths-Puffer girls basketball coach Brandon Barry knows he has a special player on his roster in Kalisa Willliams.

And the best part is that not only will the freshman guard be around for three more seasons, but she’s already making a huge impact on this year’s Rocket team this season.

Williams scored a game-high 21 points and led the host Rockets to a 46-33 nonleague girls basketball victory over Western Michigan Christian.

“She’s pretty special for a freshman,” Barry said. “It’s something that we’ve been lacking the last couple of years and I think I have three really solid guards with the ball with Camaryia Williams, her cousin, and Taylor Seidell, our senior.

“They all take care of the ball pretty well, they can all start the offense,” Barry said. “But Kalisa is pretty impressive getting to the basket. She kind of, right now, is making our offense go.”

That was evident right from the start on Tuesday night when she had a pair of three-point plays in the game’s first 3½ minutes. She added another one later in the game on a hard drive to the basket. Among her 21 points was a 9-for-9 performance from the free-throw line.

Had it not been for a long 3-pointer by Julie Merz to end the first quarter, the Warriors would have been in a bigger hole after eight minutes.

The Rockets increased their lead early in the second quarter on a 6-2 run and by halftime, the hosts were leading 24-15.

“We try to speed the game up because we’re not big,” Barry said. “We feel we are at a little bit of a disadvantage when other teams that are bigger than us can come down and set up.”

WMC had a lot of trouble setting up.

Warrior coach Mike Henry continued to try to solve Puffer’s pressure defense, but to no avail. His team did cut the lead to 29-23 by the end of the third quarter, but another Rocket run to start the fourth effectively put the game in the Rockets’ corner.

“We let Puffer get a lot of string of three baskets in a row real quick and I think that happened at least three times,” Henry said. “Reeths-Puffer was kind of relentless of going after the ball.”

Besides Williams, the Rockets received eight points from Kayla Melton, seven from Grace Swanson and six from Taylor Walker. Swanson also had 10 rebounds and Melton had six.

“Finishing things was a big factor for us,” Henry said. “We’d get a break situation, we didn’t finish it.”

Rachel Bruinsma led the Warriors with nine points and 19 rebounds. Vanessa Eekhoff had seven points and nine rebounds. Merz had five assists and four steals.