With the double-double duo of Teagan Reeves and Linsey Masnari routinely doing the heavy lifting, the Three Rivers girls basketball team and head coach Jason Bingaman have the luxury of letting some players learn on the job.
Though it was Reeves (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Masnari (12 points, 11 rebounds) — a senior pair unmatched in this part of the state — that directed the Wildcats to a 51-27 victory over Edwardsburg Monday in the opening round of Class B districts, freshman Krishanna Carter might be the key to the team making a deep postseason run.
The rookie appeared in just her sixth varsity game Monday. Carter’s initial outing in a home loss to Otsego showed flashes of great athleticism but was marred by 10 turnovers in the pressure-packed tilt against the Wolverine Conference East Division’s top squad.
Since then, Bingaman said, she has developed into a confident weapon. Not only is Carter effective at feeding the ball to Masnari and Reeves and handling the ball, she’s finding her own offensive openings. She finished with seven points, five assists and five rebounds against the Eddies.
Carter has had just six turnovers in her last two games, including last week’s victory over Otsego in the league championship.
“She’s starting to get a feel for the varsity game,” Bingaman said of the 5-foot-9 player. “Tonight you could see why we brought her up. She adds another dimension to us and she was able to break any of the full-court pressure pretty easily. Now it’s just a matter of getting her more confident and looking at the hoop a little bit more; I think she passed up some opportunities that she could have.”
It affords Reeves the ability to get down the floor and set up without adding ball-handling duties to her plate. Reeves certainly capitalized, shooting 62 percent for the game and finishing 5-for-5 at the foul line.
“I think [Carter] is finally getting used to her new teammates and our new sets,” Reeves said. “She’s understanding that most of us want her here a lot. She’s just so confident with the ball now. I’m just so happy she’s out there.
“Getting moved up to varsity as a freshman halfway through the year; I can’t even imagine how hard that would be. The cliques and the friendships have already been formed. Krishanna is one of the sweetest girls I know. She deserves to fit into this team.”
Three Rivers, which heads back to Sturgis Wednesday to take on Coldwater in the semifinals, held a 22-7 halftime advantage after blanking the Eddies in the second quarter.
Senior guard Alicia Schmidtendorff again led the Wildcats defensively, grabbing five steals and generally making life hard on Edwardsburg’s backcourt. She added two points, two rebounds and an assist in the effort. Senior Cory Sanders scored four points, and juniors Addy Cooper and Alexis Herbert chipped in two apiece. Herbert pitched in six rebounds and two assists as well.
“When a team comes out in a special defense, in the first couple of possessions you’ve gotta have someone step up and make another type of play — whether it’s make a really nice pass or hit a shot,” Bingaman said. “Cory [Sanders] was able to do that. [Schmidtendorff], she did exactly what she did Thursday night [vs. Otsego]; she was all over the court and she absolutely knows her role. We had a bunch of other players that were able to come in and give good minutes.”