Chips hold on for win over Crusaders

MANISTEE — Manistee girls basketball hosted Muskegon Catholic Central Friday in a Lakes 8 contest. The Chippewas’ 15-point halftime lead was cut to two in the fourth quarter but Manistee closed the game with an 11-0 run to take a 47-34 win.

“(The key) was keeping our composure in a very hectic game,” said Manistee head coach Kenn Kott. “Many times out there, it didn’t look like we were very composed, but at the end, we needed some people to step up and we started to do the things we needed to do in order to win.”

Crusaders (2-12, 2-6 Lakes 8) scored five points to start the third quarter, cutting the Chippewas’ (8-7, 5-3 Lakes 8) lead to 24-14. Manistee’s Sara Thompson found Lyndsey Kelley down low for a score and Kelley scored again after a Muskegon Catholic free throw to put the Chippewas up by 13.

Manistee entered the game fresh off a 59-11 drubbing of Muskegon Orchard View Monday.

The Crusaders went on a 7-2 run, with Manistee’s Erin Vander Weele accounting for the Chippewas’ two points. Kelley hit three foul shots during the remainder of the third frame while MCC hit a pair of jumpers to leave Manistee with a 33-26 advantage heading into the final stanza.

“In that third quarter, they broke our press, we weren’t rebounding and they were making shots, but they started to get some easy ones,” Kott said. “We’re not used to giving up easy baskets. It got in our heads a little bit, I think, and we’re still at that point where we try too hard sometimes.”

The Crusaders opened the fourth quarter with an 8-3 run, with Kelley hitting a free throw and using a nifty post move to score down low along the way. Manistee called a timeout nursing a 36-34 lead.

“We were really excited and we just kind of let them back in it,” Kelley said. “We were going into it too confident at times. We usually don’t do that, but when you do, you get behind.”

The Chippewas came out of the timeout firing on all cylinders. Thompson split a pair of free throws while Kelley made a pair, Kelley threw a great pass to Erin Dorn in the paint for a score and Kelley scored in the post to put Manistee up by nine with 1:50 left on the clock.

“(Kelley) got going,” Kott said. “A couple times there, she got too far underneath the basket and didn’t have good enough position to make the shot, but once she got her balance and we started getting better passes to her, she was able to put it in.

“She’s a force underneath for us.”

Dorn converted a 3-point play and Kelley split a pair of free throws to close out the game. Kelley had 15 of Manistee’s 23 second-half points and was instrumental in holding off the Crusaders’ comeback.

Kelley led the Chippewas with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Dorn added eight points and seven steals while Thompson recorded five points, five assists and six steals.

Kelley was quick to acknowledge the role her teammates had in her big night.

“I give a lot of credit to my team,” Kelley said. “I posted up well, but I couldn’t have done it without their passes and assists. Hats off to Sara Thompson, because she had a lot of assists. … A lot of them were to me and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have had what I had.”

Muskegon Catholic Central scored the first points of the game but went scoreless for the remainder of the first quarter. Kelley scored the next six points of the contest with a layup off a Vander Weele assist, two free throws and a bucket down low. Dorn made a foul shot before Thompson hit a 3-pointer and Vander Weele found Olivia Smith for a score to put Manistee up 12-2 after one.

Kott believes competing in a tightly contested game will benefit the Chippewas down the road.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “I think the best part of a game like that is, in a close game there are tons of teaching points. On the bench, we’ve got sophomores and we’ve got juniors a lot of times and they’re learning as they go.

“The coaching staff is constantly making out points,” Kott continued. “’Did you see what happened there? What could you have done there? What could we have done there?’ Those type of things. So you have to have games like that, because those teaching moments are precious, and you can’t waste them.”

Smith scored to start the second quarter, forcing a Muskegon Catholic timeout. The Crusaders scored a basket before Dorn made a pair of free throws and Thompson found Vander Weele for a score to put Manistee up 18-4 with 6:24 left in the first half.

“On defense, I think we talked together, and I was behind a lot, so my teammates talking really helped me,” Kelley said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

After a Muskegon Catholic basket, Thompson found Kelley for a score. Thompson split a pair of free throws and Kelley converted a 3-point play to put the Chippewas up 24-6. The Crusaders mustered three more points before the end of the first half, leaving Manistee with a 24-9 advantage heading into the locker room.

The Chippewas host winless Muskegon Heights Monday at 5:30 p.m.

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