By Greg Gielczyk  

MANISTEE — It was another tough assignment for a Pentwater girls basketball team just trying to find its feet this season with a group of young and still learning players.  

Facing yet another tough assignment in battling Manistee Catholic Central, which is one of the top three teams in the Western Michigan D League, the Falcons stayed close through the first eight minutes and then faded in dropping a 44-18 decision Wednesday night in Manistee.  

“We’ve got a lot to work on,” said Pentwater head coach Joe Gorton. “We have two juniors and one sophomore, so the gap is apparent. We have some youth that we had to pull up to fill some space.  

“Obviously they have some talent there, they’re just young and raw that we’ve got to keep working on. Against a team at the top of the conference like Manistee this year, that’s a tough ask.  

“Amongst it all, there’s some positives we can look at. We’re realistic with it. We set goals such as ‘Can we limit our turnovers to four this quarter? Can we score six points this quarter.’  

“We just try to go quarter by quarter, play by play. We know that the sledding is going to be tough, especially against the top part of this conference.”  

The Sabers broke out to a 7-2 lead early in the first quarter, but the Falcons came back on baskets by Charlie Swanger and Samantha Schaefer to close the gap to just one, 7-6. They trailed, 10-6 at the quarter break.  

Unfortunately for the Falcons, it was all downhill after that as the Sabers soon established a 10-point lead, 16-6 midway through the second quarter and rolled into the half with a 26-7 advantage.  

Scoring was at a premium for the Falcons in the third period, largely because the Sabers forced numerous turnovers, and Catholic would take a 39-11 cushion into the fourth period.  

“We have some games on the horizon that I think we can take what we’ve learned in games against the top teams in the conference,” Gorton said.  

“They all kind of kicked us in the teeth, but we can take what we learned from them and use it throughout the rest of the league. We’re hoping we can turn it around in the second half.”  

Audrey Kieda led the Falcons with five points and Mackenna Hasil added four.  

Kaylynn Johnson scored 12 points to lead the Sabers (7-2, 4-1 WMD), while Regan Leiffers added 10 and Leah Stickney nine.  

Pentwater fell to 2-6 overall and 2-4 in the WMD, and will travel to Mason County Eastern in another conference matchup Friday night.