Chippewas hold off Spartans for season-opening victory

SCOTTVILLE — Trailing in the fourth quarter on the road is not the ideal position to be in at the start of the season.

Losing a starting point guard to injury in crunch time does’t help either.

Manistee, however, overcame early adversity and made enough shots down the stretch to pull out a 48-43 win at Mason County Central on Monday.

“All in all, it’s a good first game,” said first-year Manistee coach Todd Erickson who replaced Kenn Kott after 18 seasons. “I’m glad we started on a positive note.”

Manistee’s Emma Burns scores over Mason County Central’s Makila Hodges during the first quarter of Monday’s season-opener in Scottville.  (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Emma Burns scores over Mason County Central’s Makila Hodges during the first quarter of Monday’s season-opener in Scottville. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Manistee closed the game on a 9-3 run as back-to-back baskets by Audrey Tomaszewski gave the Chippewas a five-point lead and Annie Fuller’s breakaway layup with eight seconds left sealed the win.

“I think we did a good job of just being patient and finding the open shots,” Tomaszewski said, “and not going insane and taking shots that aren’t open.”

Tomaszewski led the Chippewas (1-0) with 13 points, Emilee Kott had eight points and seven rebounds, Emma Burns eight points and six rebounds and Fuller finished with seven points and three steals. Emily Thompson chipped in five points while Jessica Gustad had two and nine rebounds.

Manistee’s Stephanie Smogoleski (31) shoots over MCC’s Kylie Mount. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Manistee’s Stephanie Smogoleski (31) shoots over MCC’s Kylie Mount. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Madison Geers scored a game-high 17 points despite suffering an apparent ankle injury late in the first quarter.

“It hurts to lose, but that’s OK if it hurts a little bit,” said MCC coach Mike Weinert, whose Spartans were eliminated by Manistee in a district quarterfinal last season. “That will make them hungry.”

Both teams struggled from the floor as MCC shot 33 percent (15-for-45) and Manistee 36 percent (18-for-50). It didn’t get any better at the free throw line as the Chippewas shot 9-for-22 and MCC was 11-for-24.

“There’s so much new stuff in practice we can’t shoot a ton, so I think over this week and next week, it should go up in numbers,” Tomaszewski said. “The shots are going to come.”

Manistee seemed more determined to get the ball inside against the zone and outscored MCC 8-2 in the paint in the first quarter for an 11-10 lead.

“We didn’t get to the basket like we normally do,” Weinert said. “We shot a lot more outside.”

The game was close throughout with neither team leading by more than five points, resulting in four ties and 17 lead changes — including nine in the second quarter alone as MCC took a 27-26 lead into halftime.

“We were all kind of feeling it out tonight, but I was real proud of the girls’ effort,” Weinert said.

MCC took a 31-26 lead in the third as Manistee went scoreless for the first 3:32 of the quarter while missing a number of layups.

“First-game jitters,” Kott said. “As the year goes on, it gets a lot easier to just go out there and play, but it’s good to have a little bit of pressure.”

The Chippewas and Spartans combined for just 12 points in the third, the last two of which came on a Mackenzie Thompson layup at the buzzer to give Manistee a 33-32 lead.

“We had nice looks underneath,” Erickson said. “There were quite a few that we should have capitalized on and we didn’t.”

Back-to-back triples from Tomaszewski and Kott gave Manistee a 39-35 lead, but the Spartans scored five straight for a 40-39 advantage with 3:50 to play. Burns scored in the paint on the ensuing possession to put Manistee ahead for good, though the Chippewas had to overcome the loss of Kott, who appeared to bang her head on the floor while being fouled with 2:35 to play and never returned.

MCC stayed within striking distance in the final minute, but the two baskets by Tomaszewski and one by Fuller were enough to give Manistee a win to start a three-game week.

“When we played more poised, better things happened,” Erickson said. “When we were in a hurry, good things didn’t always happen.”

The Manistee JV team beat MCC 46-15 on Monday. Rebecca Carrier led the Chippewas (1-0) with 22 points while Natalee Kott scored 14.

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