Sabers edge Bobcats in county clash

Manistee Catholic Central’s Rylee Feliczak goes up for a layup on Thursday during the Sabers’ season-opening victory over Brethren. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

Manistee Catholic Central’s Rylee Feliczak goes up for a layup on Thursday during the Sabers’ season-opening victory over Brethren. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

BRETHREN — A 19-point third quarter lifted Manistee Catholic Central girls basketball over Brethren, giving the Sabers a 42-32 victory in Brethren Thursday in a West Michigan D League contest.

“The younger kids stepped up (Thursday) when the juniors got in trouble,” said MCC head coach Todd Erickson. “The younger kids really stepped up and we weathered some storm there.”

The Bobcats (0-2, 0-1 WMDL) held a 15-14 lead at halftime but the Sabers’ (1-0, 1-0 WMDL) Rylee Feliczak outscored the Bobcats 8-6 in the frame after seeing limited playing time in the first half due to foul trouble. Manistee Catholic built a 33-21 lead heading into the final quarter.

“I felt a one-point (deficit) at half was in our favor because we had a lot of fouls out of the three starters,” Erickson said. “I thought those young kids stepped up real well. They’re in the right spot on varsity.

“We’ll falter at times, but they’ll learn as they go.”

The Bobcats started finding the net on some outside shots in the fourth quarter. Meggan Macurio hit a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer from the corner while Charlee Schaefer hit a jumper from the baseline as well. However, Feliczak scored seven in the frame and Jenna Bialik made a layup which allowed the Sabers to win comfortably.

Brethren head coach Julie Riggs would like to see a little more toughness from the Bobcats and hopes it will develop throughout the course of the season.

“They’re a very intelligent team, and they overanalyze,” Riggs said. “Because of that, they never just flow with the game. They quit playing because they’re going to help that girl up off the floor.”

Feliczak led the Sabers with 18 points. Nicole Kaminski added 12 and Bialik had seven.

Erickson felt the juniors were able to temper their aggression on defense so they could avoid foul trouble and contribute on offense in the second half.

“I think when the three (Sabers in foul trouble) got to return they understood the offensive end has to be stronger, and they have to just pick their spots to play defense,” Erickson said. “… I just think they played real well as a unit (Thursday).”

The Bobcats were just 5-for-19 from the free throw line Thursday.

“We’re not getting boards,” Riggs said. “We’re not getting put-backs. In the first half, we missed our shots from the charity stripe. Free throws, you can’t get those back. We should have had a 10 or 12-point lead going into halftime.”

MCC jumped out to a 7-3 lead with 3:53 remaining in the first quarter. Brethren’s Eleni Guenther scored two layups and Megan Cordes made a basket as well to put the Bobcats up 10-7 after one.

Whitney Danks led the Bobcats with 12 points and seven rebounds. Cordes chipped in with six points, four assists and five steals, Kylah Fischer had two points to go with three assists, Schaefer finished with four points, five boards and three steals while Macurio provided a spark off the bench with five points.

The Sabers got into some foul trouble in the second quarter, but Brethren was unable to capitalize and only held a 15-14 advantage at halftime.

“(MCC) got in early foul trouble, and during one of Todd’s timeouts I said, ‘We have to take advantage right now,” Riggs said. “Rylee and Jenna, they’re on the bench right now, and trust me, they’re coming back in the third quarter angry. You have to take advantage of them not being on the floor right now.’”

Brethren hosts Mesick and the Sabers host Big Rapids Crossroads Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Brethren’s JV won in a 43-18 blowout. Halle Richardson led the Bobcats with 14 points.

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