Strong start fuels Cardinals

BR uses press to defeat Central Montcalm

BIG RAPIDS — Jessica Haist can see the progression of her Big Rapids girls basketball team just in how it begins games.

At the start of the year, the Cardinals were slow and sluggish and didn’t play with much intensity. But in recent games, Big Rapids has started with a press that has jumped started the squad.

TIED UP: Big Rapids' Taylor Leach (left) and Central Montcalm's Michaela Crooks (center) battle for a rebound during Tuesday night's girls basketball action at Big Rapids High School. (Pioneer photo/Bob Allan)

That was evident Tuesday night as the Cardinals used that post a 64-45 victory over Central Montcalm at Big Rapids High School.

“(Our starts) has been because of the press and our mindset,” Haist said. “A lot of times we use the press to climb back into games, but now we are using it to spark us.

“The big thing is the girls have to buy into it that as soon as the we score, we have to get into the press,” she continued. “When we get beat is when we don’t do that.”

Tuesday was a perfect example.

Big Rapids never trailed and didn’t allow a field goal until nearly five minutes went by as the Cardinals took a 7-3 lead. Though the Hornets closed the lead to 9-7 late in the first quarter, Big Rapids scored the final eight points of the stanza for a 17-7 advantage.

The Cardinals continued with the press, which Central Montcalm had trouble breaking in the second quarter. The Hornets went nearly four minutes in the second quarter before recording their first field goal.

The success of the press is because of the play of Alex Folkema, Haist said. The senior scored only four points, but makes the game tough for opponents.

“She doesn’t score as much as I think she could,” Haist said. “She plays 32 minutes and she runs and she plays and is a lot of the reasons why our press is successful.”

What also made Haist proud was the number of turnovers the defense forced. Big Rapids recorded 24 turnovers though it didn’t press the whole game.

What the turnovers did was give easy buckets for the rest of the team. Cameron Baumunk led the Cardinals with 26 points, while Elizabeth Nonhof added 12 points. Kasey Woodworth tallied eight points.

Big Rapids would lead by as many as 23 points in the second half though the Hornets would close to within 13 at the end of the third quarter.

Central Montcalm was led by Alex Barnwell with 15 points, while Amber Thomas added eight.

The Cardinals are in action Friday when they travel to White Cloud.

BIG RAPIDS 64, CENTRAL MONTCALM 45

Central Montcalm 7 10 17 11 — 45
Big Rapids 17 15 15 17 — 64

Central Montcalm

Amber Thomas 2 4-7 8, Michaela Crooks 0(2) 0-2 6, Alex Barnwell 3 9-10 15, Karli Clark 2 1-2 5, Kirsi Singh 0 1-2 1, Savannah Case 4 0-0 8, Haylee Misner 1 0-2 2, Totals 12(2) 15-25 45.

Big Rapids

Elizabeth Nonhof 4 4-5 12, Cameron Baumunk 5(3) 3-9 26, Cydni Chaney 1 3-6 5, Taylor Leach 2 0-0 4, Alex Folkema 2 0-0 4, Kasey Woodworth 4 0-0 8, Kendra Enszer 2 1-2 5, Sam Weaver 0 0-2 0, Totals 20(3) 11-24 64.

Rebonds — Central Montcalm 30 (Barnwell 13, Clark 5), Big Rapids 30 (Enszer, Woodworth 7). Assists — Central Montcalm 10 (McKeown, Crooks 3), Big Rapids 9 (Baumunk 3).

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