By Craig Beilfuss
HOLTON—Yes, the headline is correct. After having lost to Shelby twice during the regular season by solid scores of 33-12 and 47-18, the Lady Norsemen of North Muskegon pulled off the huge upset on Monday evening in the opening round of girls basketball district action at Holton high school by a score of 37-35.
“No one expected us to beat Shelby except for us,” said an elated North Muskegon coach Sarah Knuth.
“We believed that we could if we worked really hard and followed the game plan. It was a great game” Knuth said! “We had a game plan and the team executed it well.”
Both teams struggled on the offensive end during the first quarter which saw North Muskegon get out to a 9-6 lead.
The Norsemen put the clamps down on the Shelby offense in the second stanza outscoring the Tigers 13-4 to take 22-10 halftime lead.
Shelby managed only two free throws by senior Kendall Zoulek, who eventually finished with a game high 21 points and a bucket by Molli Schultz.
Josee Cooke led the second quarter surge for the Norsemen with six points along with Molly Stewart who chipped in with five points.
Shelby wasn’t going away anytime soon though as they kicked the offense into high gear in the third quarter as Zoulek rallied the troops, scoring eight points in the third quarter and the Tigers outscored North Muskegon 15-5 to close the halftime deficit to 27-25 entering the fourth quarter.
Shelby trailed 27-15 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter before closing out the quarter on a 10-0 run.
Zoulek hit a 3-point shot along with a pair of free throws. Aubrey Klotz hit from long distance and Schultz hit a bucket and the Tigers were back in business and the game.
“We started the game strong,” said Knuth. “We lost our composure a bit in the third quarter when Schultz got a couple steals and Zoulek hit a deuce and triple plus went to the line for three out of five free throws.
“But after a timeout, we collected ourselves and continued to play aggressively on defense and work together on offense,” said Knuth.
The final eight minutes saw four lead changes and three ties.
The Tigers took the lead for the first time since they led 1-0 on the opening possession of the fourth quarter as Zoulek hit a 3-pointer to put Shelby up 28-27 with 7:40 remaining.
Both teams scored ten points in the fourth quarter.
Shelby held leads of 30-28, 32-28 (largest lead of the game), 32-31 and 33-31 but couldn’t put the Norsemen away. The game was tied at 28-28, 33-33 and 35-35 with 1:30 remaining.
The final and winning bucket came with 1:15 remaining when Allie Jenson of North Muskegon hit a layup.
Each team turned the ball over twice down the stretch with neither team able to capitolize on the others’ miscues.
Shelby had a last chance shot fall way short as time expired.
“This game is what tournament play should be: intense, exciting and all-out effort,” said Knuth.
Senior Josee Cooke led North Muskegon with a team high 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior Molly Stewart tossed in eight points, while sophomore Allie Jenson chipped in with seven points and dished out three assists. Senior Jena Francis finished with five points and grabbed four rebounds. Junior Georgia Skujins helped out with four points.
The Norsemen had eight turnovers, 18 rebounds, eight assists and two blocked shots.
Zoulek was the lone Shelby player in double figures. Molli Schultz scored six points for the Tigers. Ella Olmstead led the Tigers with a team high eight rebounds. Shelby went 11-of 46 from the field good for a dismal 24 percent. The Tigers were 9-of-15 from the charity stripe,
North Muskegon improves to 4-17 overall and will face the Western Michigan Christian Warriors on Wednesday evening at Holton in district action. The game has a 7 p.m. scheduled start time. The Warriors will come in with a 15-4 overall record.
Shelby finishes the 2021-2022 season with a 11-10 record.