By Mitchell Boatman

NORTON SHORES – The Western Michigan Christian and Muskegon Catholic girls basketball teams are pretty even when it comes to skill, which was evident in a close first half on Friday.

But WMC has a full roster, while MCC only suited up seven players, which made a big difference in the second half.

After a competitive, evenly-played first half, the Warriors pulled away for a 57-34 victory on their home court in Lakes 8 Conference action.

The Warriors are now 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Lakes 8. MCC drops to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference after starting the season 3-0.

Aubrey Goorman drives baseline around MCC’s Liz Isom. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon Catholic led 13-12 after the first quarter, and the game was tied 24-24 at halftime.

The Warriors used the halftime break to adjust and take control of the contest.

“In the first half, we gave them a lot of open looks,” said WMC head coach Jeremy Goorman. “In the second half we switched defenses, and I think that threw them through a loop.”

Muskegon Catholic scored just 10 points in the second half. While the WMC defense had a lot to do with that, the Crusaders didn’t do themselves any favors with a large number of turnovers.

“Even if shots aren’t falling, you’re getting into a rhythm,” said MCC head coach Matt Callow. “But when you have turnovers and you’re not getting a shot every possession, it’s really hard to get in a rhythm. It’s harder to get those shots to start falling.”

Both teams employed full-court pressure defense to start the game, and Goorman thinks that helped his team in the long run.

Talia Tyler makes the pass for MCC. Photo/Jason Goorman

“We did that and I thought ‘Uh oh,’ because they were breaking it left and right,” Goorman said. “But I think it paid dividends in the second half. They (MCC) ran out of gas.”

The teams battled to a 24-24 draw through the first half, with neither leading by more than five points. Aubrey Goorman led WMC with 12 in the first half. Hannah Ladd and Isabelle Bertolone each had six before the break for MCC.

The Crusaders scored the first point of the third quarter, but it was all WMC from there.

The Warriors went on an 8-0 run and never looked back. By the end of the quarter, WMC had gathered a 38-29 lead and a lot of momentum.

“I think part of that’s fatigue,” Coach Callow said. “We had six girls playing and that’s hard. I think they just kind of got worn down. WMC is a good team. You relax for a second and they’ll score six in a row on you.”

The Warriors went on another run in the fourth to close out the game. Over the last four minutes, WMC outscored MCC 14-3, extended the margin of victory to a commanding 23 points.

Goorman led all scorers with 22 points, and is averaging 18.8 points-per-game this season.

“I think her patience is getting better,” Coach Goorman said of his senior forward, who is also his daughter. “When she gets it down low she’s not rushing shots anymore. She’s starting to understand the game.”

Freshman Taylor Folkema added 10 points for WMC, Madison Heiss scored eight while Anna Sytsema and Meghan Heiss each tallied seven.

Bertolone and Talia Tyler scored eight points apiece for MCC. Liz Isom added seven and Hannah Ladd had six.