CUSTER — Pentwater’s girls basketball team came into the game with three starters out, and only seven players suited up. But, the Falcons still held their own through the first half.

In fact, they even went into the break with a one-point lead in Wednesday night’s Western Michigan D League game with Mason County Eastern in Custer.

Eventually MCE wore the Falcons wore down in the second half. Like everyone else, Pentwater had only limited gym time the last two weeks, and their lack of reserve strength spelled their doom as the Cardinals pulled away for a 40-20 victory.

“I was really happy with our defense in that first half,” Pentwater coach Joe Gorton said. “We were able to limit their scorers. I think we gassed a bit, and it allowed their shooters to find some openings.

“Offensively, we lost our focus and our spacing, and we were unable to make anything happen. It’s not very easy to find success with only two points in the second half. Hopefully, we can get back a player or two.”

Pentwater got off to a strong start, taking a 12-6 lead after the first quarter. The Cardinals came back, though, to outscore the Falcons, 11-6 in the second period which trimmed Pentwater’s lead to 18-17 at the half.

But the game really went south on the Falcons in the third quarter when they were shut out, 7-0 and trailed by a 25-17 margin going into the last period. Eastern outscored Pentwater, 16-2 in the final eight minutes.

Jenna Alvesteffer scored 14 points to lead all scorers in the game for Eastern. Corinna Hernandez was also in double figures for the Cardinals with 11 and Hilary Howe added seven.

“It was a huge win for us after three losses in a row,” Eastern coach Jacob Smith said. “We played great defense, and had a phenomenal intensity the whole night.”

Mikalyn Kenney was high point scorer for the Falcons with eight points, and she also hauled down seven rebounds. Jocelyn Richison contributed five points, grabbed six rebounds and picked off six steals. Audrey Kieda hauled down seven rebounds, while Marissa Sayles had six. Pentwater had 35 rebounds as a team.

The Cardinals improved to 4-3 in the WMD and 4-4 overall, and next plays host to Mesick on Friday, Jan. 14 in a non-conference contest. Pentwater fell to 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the WMD, and is next scheduled to play at Manistee Catholic Central on Friday in a league game.