By Greg Gielczyk

BEAR LAKE — After the home team scored the first basket of the game, Mason County Eastern’s girls basketball team quickly gained control and never looked back, posting a decisive 41-27 victory over

Bear Lake in the Western Michigan D League on Thursday night.

The Cardinals were coming off a low scoring, 24-22 loss to Hesperia on Monday night and focused on getting their offense rolling early in this one.

Maybe that quick bucket by the Lakers woke the Cardinals up, because they gained control after that and dominated the rest of the game.

Igniting the offense for the Cardinals was Corinna Hernandez, who knocked down a pair of 3-point shots in the first quarter, while Hilary Howe added five and Deanna Codman had four.

Eastern stepped out to a 17-10 lead at the end of the first period, and just kept going. outscoring the Lakers, 9-6 in the second to head to the locker room with a 10-point margin, 26-16 at the half.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of controlling our tempo,” Cardinals head coach Jacob Smith said.

“They’re kind of a quick, slashing team. We don’t play a lot against that.

“We gave up a few shots in a couple spots in our zone which we need to work on. But, overall I thought we played a pretty good game against them.”

Despite experiencing some trouble getting shots to fall as much as they would have liked, the Cardinals still managed to keep the Lakers at bay defensively.

Howe drained a 3-point shot as the Cardinals outscored the Lakers, 7-6 in the third period and headed into the fourth holding an 11-point lead, 33-22. Janessa Alvesteffer dropped in four points, Olivia Wing hit two free throws and Howe tossed in a bucket as the Cardinals tied the Lakers in scoring in the final period, each team notching eight.

“We’re still missing a few of our open shots,” Smith said. “They’re good, quality shots. That’s every coach’s problem. You take a beautiful shot and it doesn’t go down for you,

“But, I thought our scheme was okay. I thought we could have used a little more movement, but I thought we did pretty good tonight. We distributed the ball.

“I think our defense is strong enough to carry us a few times. But, we’re going to run into some teams that can make shots, so we’re going to have to shoot right along with them.”

Howe and Alvesteffer each scored 10 points to lead the Cardinals. Hernandez dropped in nine, Claudia Fuster added six, Codman four and Wing a deuce.

The Cardinals improved their record to 6-5 overall and bumped their league mark up to 6-3 with the win. Eastern returns to the friendly confines of its home gym for a matchup with league opponent Big Rapids Crossroads Academy on Tuesday, Feb. 1.