Cold shooting ends Cards’ season

Big Rapids can’t overcome slow start in 60-48 loss to Clare; end season at 22-1

REED CITY — The Big Rapids girls basketball team was able to fight through poor shooting games in the first two rounds of the Class B district tournament at Reed City High School to advance to the final against Clare.

It was more the same Saturday, however, with a different result.

The Cardinals once again struggled from the field, but they wouldn’t be able to recover in a 60-48 loss to the Pioneers. Big Rapids concludes the season with a 22-1 record.

LOOKING AHEAD: Big Rapids guard Ashley Seath tries to find an open teammate during Saturday’s loss to Clare. (Pioneer photo/Bob Allan)

The Cardinals got in a hole from the opening tip and never had the lead as they trailed 9-1 before Kasey Woodworth hit a 3-pointer with 3:22 remaining in the first quarter for the first field goal.

“We haven’t hit shots all week and that is hard because we have hit shots all season,” Big Rapids coach Jessica Haist said.

The Pioneers had no such trouble, and in particular, Melissa Benchley.

The senior shot an airball in the opening possession of the game, but responded by draining three 3-pointers as Clare took a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“Melissa came out and shot that airball, but it shows that mental toughness she has scoring 10 points in that quarter,” Clare coach Matt Rodenbo said.

Despite the hot shooting from the

Pioneers, Haist believed the defense was performing how it should.

The Cardinals put a lot of emphasis on stopping all-state guard Lindsay Winter, who was constantly serenaded by the Big Rapids student section as a ball hog, despite recording six assists, four of which came in the first half.

Winter did lead the team in scoring with 15 points, followed by 14 from Benchley and 12 points from Courtney English on the strength of three 3-pointers. Clare connected on six 3-pointers in the first half.

“We thought (Benchley) was their third best shooter and she hit shots,” Haist said.

Big Rapids found its stride late in the first half.

Trailing by as may as 14 points, the Cardinals trimmed the deficit to six, 28-22, with an 8-0 run. Clare responded by closing the half with a 7-0 run of its own to take a 35-22 advantage into halftime.

“I really thought our press took them out of their flow,” Rodenbo said. ‘When they started breaking it at the end of the game, we took it off.”

Big Rapids would get the lead down to six one more time, late in the third quarter.

The Cardinals used a 14-5 run to trim the deficit to 42-36 with just a little more than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

But a triple by English and a pair of free throws by Winter pushed the lead back to double digits.

“We clawed back a couple of times and then they hit a three in our face,” Haist said.

Big Rapids spent most of the fourth quarter trading buckets with Clare, never getting any closer than 10 points. The Cardinals were led by Kendra Enszer with 15 points and Elizabeth Nonhof with 14 points.

“They shot the ball well, but I also thought we didn’t shoot as well as we usually do,” Enszer said.

Putting the ball in the basket was the common theme among the Big Rapids players afterward.

“Our shots weren’t falling, especially in the beginning,” the Cardinals’ Taylor Leach said.

CLARE 60, BIG RAPIDS 48

Clare 16 19 12 13 — 60

Big Rapids 8 14 16 10 — 48

Clare (21-1)

Lindsay Winter 5 5-9 15, Alex Stark 0(3) 0-0 9, Melissa Bencley 2(3) 1-2 14, Ashley Petree 3 3-6 9, Courtney English 2(20 2-4 12, Corrine Wezensky 0 1-2 1, Totals 12(8) 12-23 60.

Big Rapids (22-1)

Elizabeth Nonhof 2(20 4-6 14, Kasey Woodworth 2(1) 0-0 7, Ashley Seath 2(1) 0-1 7, Taylor Leach 2 1-2 5, Kendra Enszer 5 5-7 15, Totals 13(4) 10-16 48.

Rebounds – Clare 36 (English 7), Big Rapids 39 (Enszer 12, Leach 8). Assists – Clare 13 (Winter 6), Big Rapids 12 (Seath 4).

 

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