Redettes suffocate Petoskey with 2nd-half defense
By MICHAEL MURRAY
Special to the Journal
MARQUETTE — The Petoskey High School girls basketball team went into halftime Friday night trailing Marquette by six points, hopeful that a Class A district championship might be in its reach.
A dominant second half by the host Redettes, however, crushed any optimism the visitors might have had. Marquette outscored the Northmen 14-3 in the third quarter and 16-2 in the fourth to pull away for a 52-21 victory.
The Redettes’ strong second half was sparked by a stifling defense, aggressive rebounding and some cold shooting from Petoskey.
“To be honest with you, when we were down six at halftime after not shooting it really well, I thought maybe we could get some breaks in the second half and see what happens,” Petoskey coach Bryan Shaw said. “But Marquette has been there and done that. They did a great job.
“(Coach Ben Smith) has got a machine going right now. We were getting some shots that we’ve been hitting the last six or seven games. But with their defense, their pressure, those shots didn’t go today.
“And the thing about Marquette is if you get that shot, it’s only one shot. They get the 50-50 balls. They get the rebounds.”
Smith said a point of emphasis coming into the game was limiting Petoskey’s second-chance opportunities. After struggling in that area in the first half — especially in the first quarter, which ended 11-11 — he said his team turned it around after the halftime break.
“They’re athletic and they’re big, and they play against physical competition all year,” Smith said of the Northmen, champions of the Big North Conference. “So we had to be ready to combat that. A huge focus of our game plan was keeping them off the glass, and once we adjusted we did a much better job.”
Marquette’s Aspen Michelin and Petoskey’s MaCayla Corey traded 3-point baskets to open the third quarter. From that point on, the Redettes outscored the Northmen 22-0 over the next 10 minutes.
Junior forward Avery Ledy scored eight of her game-high 17 points in that stretch, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“At halftime, (Smith) really helped us see that we had to play how we play, we had to be ourselves, we had to go out and work hard,” said Ledy, who also reached double figures in rebounds with 10. “We had to communicate more and play as a team, and I thought we really did that in the second half.”
Shaw added: “We start missing a few shots, they get some easy baskets, and you know how it snowballs. … We found throughout the year that you can guard one or two girls, but when a team has five or six or seven or eight — however many (Smith) was shuffling in there — it’s hard to guard that many who can score and are that skilled.”
Senior guard Claudia Hale contributed nine points, six rebounds and four steals for Marquette, while junior center Megan Kolp led Petoskey with six points.
Marquette (16-6) advances to the regional tournament and will take on Saginaw Heritage (22-1) on Tuesday night in Gaylord.
“We ended the regular season with a three-game losing streak … but we refocused pretty well,” Smith said. “We took Traverse City Central’s best shot the other night and had a really good second half tonight. Next Tuesday, we’ll have to be ready to go right from the start.”