Quality shot selection and maximizing its strengths lifted the Sturgis girls basketball team to a 52-38 victory over Vicksburg Wednesday in a Class B district semifinal contest at home.
With 80 percent of their shots from 15 feet or closer, the Trojans (7-14) worked the paint and took advantage of open mid-range jumpers to gain a four-point lead by halftime and pull away with a 16-9 third quarter.
Nikki Nelson (16 points) and Rachel Anderson (13) steadied Sturgis throughout, while Gretchen Inman heated up in the second half with 11 of her 14 points.
“We came out tonight with a little bit of nerves, which is normal in a district game,” Sturgis coach Amie Burger said. “Once we calmed down we played a better second half with more patience and really worked it in to our post players. Rachel Anderson, Nicolette Nelson and Gretchen Inman played big for us tonight — all scoring in double figures. Courtney Lovelace and Jessie Cline did a great job again putting pressure defense on their guards. We are looking forward to Friday night putting ourselves in a position to win a district championship.”
Anderson pulled down 12 rebounds, Nelson grabbed seven and Inman finished with four for Sturgis, which was slightly edged on the glass 26-23. Anderson and Lovelace led the squad with three assists apiece.
Lovelace netted four points, Parker and Goretti Alfaro-Cardiel scored two each and Jessie Cline finished with one for the Trojans.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Nelson gave the Trojans a 10-8 lead in the first quarter and they would stay out front the rest of the game. When Vicksburg made it a 21-19 contest early in the third frame, Nelson scored a pair of buckets and Parker added a third to push the lead to eight.
An Inman score late in the third period game Sturgis its first double-digit lead of the game.
“We kind of started off the first half really slow,” Anderson said. “We weren’t really making passes and we were shooting outside and they weren’t going in. After halftime we kind of got with it and were trying to work it down and driving because [Vicksburg was] in a zone [defense].”
The game plan shifted to Inman in order to get baskets under the hoop, draw contact or both. She made 8 of 11 free throw attempts to finish at 72.7 percent.
Hitting free throws will be just one part of the game Sturgis must execute well Friday against Three Rivers, which beat the Trojans 52-45 back on Dec. 10. Sturgis lost to the Wildcats in last year’s district championship.
“This year we’re going to get that win,” Anderson said.
“There’s no doubt,” Nelson confidently added.
“Shut Teagan [Reeves] down,” Nelson said of what that would require.