MARQUETTE - On a night when their offense was less than fluid, the Marquette Senior High School basketball Redettes used some stifling defense to post a Great Northern Conference victory.
Holding the visiting Escanaba Eskymos to just 13 baskets and helping force 27 turnovers, MSHS improved to 10-2 overall and 6-0 in league play with a 53-31 triumph.
Hunter Viitala led the U.P.'s No. 1-ranked Redettes with 14 points, but it was their defense which dropped the Eskymos to 3-8 overall and 1-4 in the GNC.
"We started slow on offense, but our defense was good," said MSHS senior guard Liana Storm, who netted eight points, hauled in 10 rebounds, dished out five assists and came up with five steals.
"We've been working on our defensive play. We pressed the ball and tried to trap the ball. We also read their passing lanes."
Said MSHS head coach Ben Smith: "Liana was in people's pockets all game. She's a leader in a quiet way."
MSHS, with Viitala and Lydia Kurin notching four points apiece, led 13-9 after one quarter despite four points by Lynsey Collins of Escanaba.
The Redettes stretched their lead to 19-9 with 6:30 left in the half on a three-point play by Viitala before settling for a 25-15 advantage at intermission.
MSHS scored the first eight points of the third stanza before Esky's Ashley Cook sank a shot to make it 33-15 with 4:12 left. Cook finished with a team-high eight points.
"We always try to make the other team earn something offensively, take them out of their offense," Smith said. "We did a good job guarding (Michelle) LaFave."
The Redettes led 49-27 late in the fourth quarter on a bucket by Storm before closing it out.
Escanaba head coach Kelly O'Connell said it was a "great effort" by his team, despite the loss.
"Marquette is the No. 1 team (in Class ABC) for a reason," he said. "Their pressure bothered us ... and they just wear on you.
"Collins is a good defensive player and she matched Viitala's quickness all game (on defense).
"My girls didn't hang their heads, though," O'Connell added. "They know what they have to do now."
LaFave led the Eskymos with nine rebounds.
Marquette captured the JV game, 53-18.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.