MARQUETTE - Hunter Viitala was a one-woman wrecking crew for the Marquette girls basketball team on Friday night.
She insured the Redettes wouldn't be challenged by Great Northern Conference foe Menominee as MSHS ran off with a 68-23 victory.
Marquette improved to 7-2 overall and 3-0 in the GNC, while the Maroons slipped to 5-2 in their first conference game this season.
Marquette Senior High School sophomore Hunter Viitala (10) catches a long pass before driving in for a layup during the third quarter against Menominee at Marquette Senior High School on Friday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Viitala finished with a game-high 22 points, but just as importantly, six steals and four rebounds as the Redettes made 22 steals and outrebounded Menominee more than 2 to 1.
"Our defense needs to be there every night," MSHS coach Ben Smith said. "Your offense can come and go, plus the defense can give you some good opportunities offensively."
That was the case Friday as the Redettes turned an early 4-1 deficit into a 24-4 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.
It was MSHS's best run, but not their only one on Friday. This 23-0 run was nearly matched by a 20-0 spurt in a four-minute stretch to end the third quarter and gave Marquette a 61-16 advantage.
Numerous steals in the backcourt or near midcourt became quick fast-break layups, and by halftime, all nine Marquette players had scored at least one basket.
"I'm in a good position to make some steals," Viitala said about usually guarding her opponent's point guard. "We like to add some pressure and push it into a higher tempo."
It worked, according to Menominee first-year coach Lucas Chouinard.
"I saw Viitala play on the JV last year, and she's always been the fastest player on the floor," he said. "Tonight she was the best player, too."
Marquette's No. 2 scorers were sophomores Kirsten Iwanski and Shayla Huebner with eight points each. Senior teammate Liana Storm pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, while sophomore Elizabeth Kurin had five steals.
The Redettes also won the JV game, 36-20.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org