By Greg Gielczyk
MANISTEE — Without its leading scorer Libby McCarthy, absent on vacation, the Manistee girls basketball team rose to the occasion and turned back a streaking Shelby squad, 45-30 in non-conference action in Manistee Thursday night.
As the winter storm picked up intensity outside, the Chippewas turned up the defensive intensity inside and forced a slew of Shelby turnovers, especially in the second half.
The Tigers, who came into the game carrying a three-game winning streak, were able to stick close to the Chippewas through much of the first half, but crumbled under Manistee’s defensive pressure in the second.
“We didn’t talk about it before the game, but the one thing I did notice was everybody stepped up their game tonight,” said Manistee head coach Kenn Kott. “They had too, because we were without our leading scorer, Libby McCarthy (on vacation).
“So when you’re missing 18, 19 points a game, someone has to make up for it, and boy they sure did. It was a team effort. Everybody gave extra effort out there, and made up for those points.”
Early on it was Brooke Jankwietz for the Chippewas, who was making her first start of the season and made the most of her minutes on the floor.
She scored the first basket of the game to give the Chippewas a 2-0 lead. Manistee never trailed the rest of the way, although the Tigers forced two ties in the first eight minutes.
Jankwietz would score again in the first period, and Abby Robinson contributed four points as Manistee finished the first with a 15-12 lead.
The Tigers were able to stay with the Chippewas thanks to the long range shooting of Aubrey Klotz and Kendall Zaverl as each sunk a 3-point shot, while Molli Schultz chipped in three points as well.
But the Chippewas tightened the defensive screws on the Tigers in the second quarter, holding the Tigers to just seven points while scoring 13 and went into the half with a nine-point lead, 28-19.
Jayna Edmondson led the way for Manistee, scoring five points including a 3-point bomb, while teammate Allison Kelley notched four.
“We talked a little bit at halftime (about the defense),” Kott said. “Our defense was good, but not real solid, and of course we had way too many turnovers, which kept them (the Tigers) in the ball game.
“The second half we cut down on the turnovers, and I definitely think our defensive intensity picked up.
That’s what made the difference. We turned it the way around.”
Manistee’s offense slowed a bit in the third quarter, but the defense cut off numerous Shelby possessions, and the Chippewas outscored the Tigers, 11-5 and pushed their lead to 15 points, 39-24 going into the fourth.
Each team scored six points in the final eight minutes, all of Manistee’s coming from Edmondson, while Zaverl buried a three and finished with four points for the Tigers.
Manistee was led in scoring by Jayna Edmondson with 16 points, while Kelley contributed 10. Jankwietz and Robinson had six apiece.
Kelley ripped down eight rebounds to top the Chippewas charts and Robinson cleaned the glass for six. Robinson also had seven steals and Lacey Zimmerman and Edmondson each picked off four.
Zimmerman was the Chippewas’ big playmaker with five assists with Robinson dishing out three while Kate Somsel and Mariah Bialik each had two.
Schultz scored nine points and picked off four steals to lead Shelby. Biloxi Lee finished with seven points and gathered in nine rebounds.
Manistee improved its record to 5-3 overall with its second consecutive win and will be idle now until it returns to the court for a West Michigan Conference Lakes Division game at Ludington on Thursday, Jan. 5.
Shelby saw its record fall to 4-3 and is off for the Christmas break before turning to action on Tuesday, Jan. 3 with another non-conference game at Muskegon Mona Shores.