HOLTON — A strong start pushed the Holton girls’ basketball team to a 44-37 victory Friday night over visiting Shelby in the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division.

The victory extended the Red Devils’ winning streak to four straight.
The Red Devils powered out of the gates, exploding for an 11-1 advantage in the early stages of the first quarter. Holton led 13-5 edge after one and 23-11 at the half.
But the second half was a little different for the Red Devils, as the shots they made in the first half weren’t there.  Shelby sharpshooter Molli Schultz found the range for eight points, all of them coming on transition baskets after a steal.
Shelby finished the third quarter with a 12-9 edge and went into the fourth quarter still very much in the game. The Tigers shaved Holton’s lead to nine, 32-23.
The Tigers eventually climbed within four in the fourth quarter. But the Red Devils held off the Tigers as Abbie Fowler dropped in a 3-pointer and Layla Cannady and Courtney Boes both hit some big free throws to stretch the Red Devils’ lead to 10.
“We were happy to get out of the game with a win,” said Red Devils coach Robert Jordan. “Shelby made it a game. Our defense and press were really moving well in the first half and we created turnovers that we were able to capitalize on. Our goal was to limit Molli Schultz offensively because she hurt us in the first game. We held her to zero at half, and felt we were doing a really good job at the defensive end. All game really, but especially in the first half.”
Cannady was the Red Devils’ high scorer with 14 points. She also had five rebounds. Fowler had 12 points, six rebounds, five steals and two assists.
Boes contributed 10 points, while Ryan Robins added seven points and nine rebounds.
Shelby’s leaders were Schultz with 12 points and four steals, while Kendall Zaverl had nine points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Holton (10-8, 5-5) will travel to Grant next Tuesday.
Shelby (8-11, 5-5) will travel to Mason County Central next Thursday.