Onekama girls routed at Benzie Central, 59-28

Onekama’s Zoe Morley (11) finds the going difficult in the Portagers’ 59-28 loss at Benzie Central on Tuesday. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

Onekama’s Zoe Morley (11) finds the going difficult in the Portagers’ 59-28 loss at Benzie Central on Tuesday. (Robert Myers/Pioneer Sports Network)

By ROBERT MYERS

Pioneer Sports Network

BENZONIA – Benzie Central’s press ruled the night as the Huskies defeated the Onekama Portagers 59-28 in Northwest Conference girls basketball action Tuesday night.

The Huskies took control of the game early on the defensive end, often forcing turnovers before the Portagers could make it up the court and set up a shooting opportunity.

“We have spent a lot of time working on trapping and reading the next pass. At practice the girls are focused, and Tuesday night you could see it,” said Benzie Central coach Sarah Ross. “They knew when to trap and they didn’t reach in as much … I really feel like their hard work in practice on the defensive stuff is what we saw on man-to-man, out away from the basket and then on the trap.”

As effective as Benzie’s press was, the Portagers only trailed 4-2 nearly six minutes into the opening quarter, riding a feisty defense and a fighting spirit that made Onekama coach Jim Armstrong very proud of his team despite the lopsided loss.

“When you run a Class D school against a Class B school, they (the Class B school) are so much bigger and stronger and have more kids, but we competed Tuesday night,” Armstrong said. “Last time we played these guys, we had a running clock. This time, coach Ross came up to me and said we played hard and competed, and that was my challenge … This is a game that you’re probably not going to win, but you’ve got to hold your heads high and compete, and my kids competed hard. I was pleased.”

Try as they might, the Portagers could not hold the Huskies in check forever, and at the break Benzie Central led 26-6. A strong Onekama effort to start the third quarter helped make things closer for a bit, but Benzie’s deep and talented bench could not be overcome.

The Portagers were led by McKayla Haske, who finished with 10 points, four steals and three blocks. Devon Edmondson added four points and six rebounds off the bench. Kassidy Ward also scored four points, and Grace Hughes led the team in rebounds with nine.

With the loss, Onekama fell to 5-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play. The Portagers return to action at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 in a home game against conference foe Suttons Bay.

“My goal right now is to finish in fifth place. If I can finish in fifth place in our first year in the Northwest Conference, I’ll be happy,” Armstrong said. “Right now, we’re 4-4, so I’m happy. There’s an upper tier and a bottom tier in this league, and we’re right here in the middle. We’re only going to get better playing in this league. That’s why we came here.”

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