By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

Slowing down D’Erika Varenhorst on the basketball court doesn’t happen very often.

On Thursday night in the opening night of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Girls Basketball Classic, some first-half foul trouble slowed the Ludington Oriole senior a bit, but her dominance in the second half really showed in a 61-45 victory over the Muskegon Big Reds.

Varenhorst was “limited” to 10 first-half points, but cut loose for 16 in the second half for a game-high 26 points. She also had 17 rebounds.

“She’s just a great player to have on your team,” Ludington coach Thad Shank said. “She’s just a phenomenal athlete as well as being a good basketball player. She posts and seals incredibly well and handles the ball well.”

That was needed against a quick, athletic Muskegon team.

“A full court, fast tempo type of game like this, she really thrives in those games whereas other post players might get lost in a game like that,” Shank said.

A steady, four-court effort is what led the Orioles to the victory over Muskegon.

Ludington led 13-10 after one quarter, 29-20 at the half and 42-30 after three quarters.

The supporting cast for the Orioles wasn’t too bad either.

“Muskegon High is a tough team to play against,” Shank said. “They really come after you and pressure the ball extremely, extremely well. I thought, in spots tonight, our guards did a good job finding the open person.”

Rachael Petzak finished with 15 points, including 13 a first half in which she and Varenhorst had all but six of the Orioles’ points. Petzak canned a trio of 3-pointers among her points.

Muskegon was led by Mardrieka Cook with 16 points and Janiece Levelston with 13. Jade Paige chipped in with eight.

Ludington enjoyed a 47-36 advantage in rebounds. Muskegon had 35 turnovers and Ludington had 31.


Ludington 61, Muskegon 45

Erin Thomsen 1 0-0 2, Rachael Petzak 5 2-2 15, Kalli Wahr 0 0-1 0, Logan Meeker 2 0-0 4, Mekayla Steckel 3 0-0 6, Molly Hallead 0 2-2 2, D’Erika Varenhorst 10 6-11 26. Totals 21 10-16 61.

Keiarra Guy 3 0-0 6, Artmetria Williams 1 0-0 2, Mardrieka Cook 5 5-9 16, Janiece Levelston 6 0-0 13, Jade Paige 4 0-2 8. Totals 19 5-11 45.

Ludington 13 – 16 – 13 – 19 — 61
Muskegon 10 – 10 – 10 – 15 — 45

3-pointers: Cook, Levelston, Petzak (3). Fouled out: Paige. Total fouls: Ludington 15, Muskegon 16. Technicals: none. A: 300.