GWINN - Sometimes it didn't look like a fair fight.
The small Class D school from Alger County, Superior Central, used a full-court pressing defense to toy with bigger Class C Gwinn before the Cougars ran off with a 60-38 girls basketball victory on Friday evening.
Despite a roster of just eight players, Cougars coach Greg Trowbridge has no problem employing that press until their opponents succumb.
Superior Central’s Mikayla Barrows, left, moves in to defend Gwinn’s Ellie Olsen during the fourth quarter in Gwinn on Friday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
It's worked wonders as SC has built a 6-0 record this season.
The Modeltowners, under new coach Ben Olsen, are a work in progress at 1-5 with several of their veteran players out or just coming back from off-season injuries.
"Superior Central is a good team," Olsen said. "But we're not very refined yet as we just got two of our best players back.
"We're still working on fundamentals, so we don't have many wrinkles in our game. If our basic game doesn't work, we don't have much else to fall back on yet.
"But I'm hoping it will all start coming together by the end of the year."
Trowbridge has nearly all of the players back from a team that made it to the Class D regional finals last season.
"We try to get into an uptempo game," he said. "We can play it all 32 minutes if we have to, even with only eight girls on our roster."
The Cougars forced Gwinn into 28 turnovers while committing just seven themselves.
"What I didn't like tonight is how many layups we missed," Trowbridge said. "You've got to start making layups when you get the opportunity. It's a waste of time pressing if you can't make them."
While that may have happened early on, the problem fixed itself during a 3 1/2-minute, 12-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters, turning a tenuous 10-9 lead into a healthy 22-9 advantage. Gwinn never got closer than 10 points again.
While four players contributed to that run, it was junior Vanessa Freberg who proved to be the scoring constant throughout the night, finishing with a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds. Junior teammate Teslyn Tyner added 13 points and three steals, while yet another junior, Brooke Pasanen, had nine points and nine rebounds.
For Gwinn, senior Megan McGuire led the way with 12 points, while junior Katie Aho pulled in seven rebounds to go with four points.
On Thursday, Gwinn won the JV game, 60-27.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.