Three Rivers’ girls basketball team learned that nothing short of 32 minutes of focus is necessary to live up to lofty expectations this season. Sturgis figured out that it has plenty of grit and resolve.
After racing out to a 21-0 lead Tuesday, the visiting Wildcats staved off a Sturgis rally for a 52-45 victory to improve to improve to 2-0 this year. The loss dropped the Trojans to 0-2, though a moral victory was in hand.
Western Michigan University signee Teagan Reeves, a senior forward, scored eight of her game-high 24 points in the first quarter and the Wildcats led 19-0 heading into the second. Reeves was 7-for-18 from the field and 7-for-10 at the free-throw line, adding 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Senior forward Linsey Masnari netted 17 points on 4-for-16 shooting, doing damage at the stripe with an 8-for-10 effort. She, too, posted a double-double with 10 boards.
By the 1:38 mark in the third quarter, the Trojans had clawed their way back to a 36-25 deficit. Triples by Rachel Anderson and Morgan Pueschel narrowed the gap to five points (44-39) with 3:03 to play in the fourth quarter.
Three Rivers capitalized at the foul line down the stretch to put a bow on a nerve-wracking night on the road. The Wildcats ended up shooting just 27 percent from the field (15-for-56) but outscored Sturgis 18-7 at the stripe.
“A lot of that is just a matter of not executing properly,” Three Rivers coach Jason Bingaman said of the second-half slide. “We were out of rotation a couple times defensively. They played tougher, too. I think we shocked them right out of the gate and did a lot of things well. We just couldn’t match that intensity in the second half at all. We had a lot of instances where things were things were going really bad for us, but we found some ways to make some plays to keep them at a safe distance.”
Anderson led the Trojans with 12 points, four steals, four blocks and five rebounds. Pueschel added 10 points, three steals and three rebounds. Gretchen Inman, who broke the invisible barrier over the rim for the Trojans (0-2) with the team’s first bucket in the second quarter, finished with three points and three defensive boards and Nicholette Nelson chipped in eight points, a block and 10 rebounds.
“We dug ourselves into a hole in the first quarter; we didn’t score a point,” Trojans first-year head coach Amie Burger said. “That really hurts. I’m really disappointed that we come out more scared than anything. These kids are a good group of kids and a good team if they just believe. Right now that’s what we’re trying to do is convince them of that. Once we do that we’re going to turn some ball games around.
“We’re getting there. I don’t know that they quite believe it yet. Until we can get a definite ‘yes’, to me they’re not ready yet to compete at the level at which they need to compete to win ball games.”
Masnari said the close call was a wake-up call for the Wildcats.
“We started off so intense that I feel like it was kind of hard for us to match that the second half,” she said. “We played here two years ago and it was a struggle then. We’ll be ready next time we see them in districts.
“We have to be intense all the time. Close games like this are good to have every once in a while as long as you get the win. It’s a reminder that you have to work hard every second.”