By Greg Gielczyk
BEAR LAKE — Pentwater girls basketball coach Joe Gorton admitted he was a little nervous about Saturday night’s makeup game at Bear Lake.
For one thing, there would be no junior varsity game. Plus, the Falcons would play the second game of a varsity/varsity doubleheader. And, it was a bus ride on a non-traditional basketball night.
As it turned out, he needn’t have been concerned. The Falcons responded to the challenge, busting out of the gates with a solid performance in cruising to a convincing 45-26 victory over the Lakers (0-15 overall, 0-14 WMD) in the Western Michigan D League.
“I was able to go 12 deep into my bench, and give lots of girls some time,” said Gorton later.
“We got some really good minutes from our key contributors, and I think it will be some good momentum heading towards the tournament.
“Wins have been few and far between this year, so it’s kind of nice to get one every once in a while. The girls played really, really well. It was really encouraging.
“Every time we step out there, I compare their height, their athleticism and their skills to the other team … it really makes me wish certain circumstances had been different, because I really think we could be in a different position right now.”
Pentwater typically leaves its legs on the bus on road trips, but this time was different. The Falcons came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, and was especially effective on the defensive end.
The Falcons pestered the Lakers into a flat performance on offense, limiting them to just three points in the first eight minutes while knocking down 14 points themselves.
Pentwater was never really challenged the rest of the way.
Despite experiencing a bit more difficulty making their shots in the second quarter, the Falcons continued to put the clamps on the Lakers defensively. They outscored Bear Lake, 9-6 in the second quarter and built a 14-point lead, 23-9 at the half.
The Falcons outscored the Lakers, 10-8 in the third period and cruised into the fourth quarter with a 33-17 advantage. Pentwater had a 12-9 edge in the final eight minutes.
“I really think that we can make some noise (in the tournament),” Gorton said. “I had some key kids step up tonight. It was exciting to watch.”
Although she was still on a little restriction as she recovers from a concussion, Pentwater senior Mikaylyn Kenney had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I don’t think she’s 100 percent yet, so I was kind of picking and choosing my spots with her,” Gorton said. “She was really active tonight.
“Really, my trio all showed up. This is one of the first games I’ve had (junior) Jocelyn Richison, senior Haidyn (Adams) and Mikaylyn all put up good numbers.
“When they’re doing that, we obviously do better offensively. The other bright spot is my foreign exchange student, Maren Martinsen.
“She’s from Norway. I knew she had it in her. We’ve been working and working. She kind of broke out a little bit. She was kind of all over the place. She was great defensively.
“She was really kind of a bright spot for us. She gave us some energy, gave us some spot minutes. Once she puts this together, she’s going to be someone teams are going to have to deal with, and that’s kind of exciting.”
The three combined to score 32 of the Falcons’ 45 points. Richison was the leading scorer for Pentwater with 13 points and Adams added eight while Maren Martinsen contributed seven.
Adams and Madelym Green each dished out two assists. Adams also had six steals, Samantha Schaeger picked off three, while Richison and Mackenna Hasil had two apiece.
Pentwater improved its record to 3-13 overall and 3-11 in the league. The Falcons are off now until Thursday, Feb. 24 when they travel to Mesick for a game with the second place Bulldogs (13-5 overall, 11-4 WMD).