Warriors fighting on to semifinal

Duncan MacLean • Feb 28, 2017 at 12:41 AM

NORTON SHORES—Home court advantage seemed to pay off in a big way Monday for the opening round of the Class C district tournament at Western Michigan Christian High School.

The Western Michigan Christian girls basketball team kicked off their run through MHSAA District 81 in style, downing visiting North Muskegon, 63-24, on their home floor.

“I like that to begin with,” WMC head coach Jeremy Goorman said. “It’s a good confidence boost going into the next game. The girls are unselfish and they know our strengths. Tonight, they did a really nice job.”

The game was over by halftime, with the Warriors holding the Norse to just one made field goal through the first quarter and outscoring them, 37-16, by intermission.

A slow WMC offensive start feigned a glimmer of hope for North Muskegon, with the Warriors only netting four points in the opening two minutes.

Katelyn Wright kicked off a scoring barrage with back-to-back triples.

“Katelyn Wright had 10 points in the first quarter, if she can open up the floor then they think ‘oh we have to get out’, then our bigs can get to work down low. She changed the whole game on the offensive end.”

From there, lockdown defense created all the offense the Warriors needed.

It took 4:30 of play before the Norse got on the board, grabbing their first field goal on a botched press effort by the Warriors.

The WMC full-court press, in all its variations, befuddled the Norse transition game. Creating turnovers of every sort- botched passes, travels, foot dribbles and even collisions.

“Our press was working, I think we forced around 30 turnovers,” Goorman said. “That was the game plan, apply pressure and get Mya Duncan out of the game.

“Cassie Kingma did a nice job on her and then Shantelle (Wilkonson) came off the bench and played hard on her too. If you shut her down, you’ve got them.”

Stellar rebounding throughout the game allowed WMC to control pace throughout, and strong discipline on the court kept the Norse off the foul line. With every facet of their game firing, the Warriors were able to relax and play some beautiful basketball.

When the game did slow down enough for a half-court look on offense, the Warriors capitalized. Aubrey Goorman had a stellar day working the paint, netting a game-high 22 points, going 4-for-4 from the free throw line and dishing 3 assists.

“Aubrey and Anna (Sytsema) pass well together, they had a lot of nice looks to each other and had a lot of nice ball reversals to the guards. When they are passing like that, good things happen.”

Sytsema scored nine points of her own, while grabbing as many rebounds.

Wright ruled the open plains, dropping six from behind the arc and netting a few juicy mid-range jumpers for her 11 total points.

Cassie Kingma rounded out the scoring leaders with nine points of her own, while dealing four assists.

The scoring went deep for WMC, with 10 girls cracking the book. Wilkonson followed the leaders with four points, ahead of Haylee Mosers with three, Harlie Hubers and Addison Liggett with two. Elli DeKam and Grace Johnson rounded out the scoring book with one point each. Johnson also nabbed four steals and slung three assists.

The shellacking of North Muskegon will serve as a tune-up for the Warriors before their second-round matchup with Ravenna, who took a bye into the district semifinals.

Should the Warriors advance past the Bulldogs, they will take on the winner of Kent City (16-4) vs. Muskegon Heights Academy (9-10) for the District 81 championship.

“Anything is possible right now,” coach Goorman said. “Athletic defensively wise we can play defense on any team. If we can get shots up we have a chance.”

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