By Greg Gielczyk

MANISTEE — Fighting the COVID bug has kept the Hesperia girls basketball team from establishing any consistency, and the Panthers showed just how much they are still struggling with it Tuesday night in a non-conference game at Manistee Catholic Central.  

The Panthers managed to make a run here and there, but never anything that was sustained long enough to put a scare into the Sabers, who won their fifth straight game, 47-28.  

“We’ve had girls out, they were out two weeks and we’re just getting them back,” Panthers head coach Vince Grodus said. “They kind of lost their rhythm, but to Manistee’s credit they came out and played prepared, and they took it to us in the first half.  

“We did not respond. We did not counter punch. I felt we played better in the second half, and we had a couple of runs there. But, we just have to get our sea legs back.”  

In a low scoring first quarter, with neither team looking like they had their “sea legs,” the Sabers managed to hit a couple more buckets than the Panthers and led, 6-2 at the buzzer.  

Hesperia fell behind by 10 points, 17-7 midway through the second quarter and scored just one more point after that to trail, 20-8 at the half.  

Despite some short scoring spurts, the Panthers couldn’t get the deficit under 10 points throughout the third quarter and eventually fell into a 19-point hole, 37-18 entering the fourth quarter.  

The Panthers had particular difficulty containing the Sabers leader, Grace Kidd who pumped in 23 points, including four 3-point buckets.  

“She’s a very nice player,” said Grodus. “She has some skills. She can shoot very well from the outside, and she’s very athletic.”  

Emma Joppich led the Panthers in scoring with 12 points and Emmi Tinkham added eight.  

The Panthers fell to 2-9 overall on the season with their third straight loss, and will next be in action Friday, Feb. 4 at home against Lakeview.  

Photos/Greg Gielczyk