Cards take the first step
REED CITY — Big Rapids girls basketball coach Jessica Haist admitted that starting the league on a positive note was big for her team. That it happened against its biggest rival was a coincidence. The Cardinals rode the 32-minute rollercoaster in gaining a 52-42 victory over Reed City at Reed City High School on Friday. Big Rapids is now 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Central State Activities Association. The Coyotes fall to 1-2 on the year and 0-1 in the league. Big Rapids has aspirations of winning the CSAA title this year and Haist knew it was important to start the march toward the championship on a positive note. “The kids talked about this game, dream about this game, so this was big to get this win, especially on their court,” she said. The Cardinals started the game with a bang with back-to-back 3-pointers by Elizabeth Nonhof and Kasey Woodworth. But Reed City clawed back, going on a 14-3 run to close out the first quarter to take a 14-12 advantage. “(The quick start) kind of surprised me when it happened, but it also was nice to see us come back and get back to the game plan,” Haist said. The game plan included a triangle-and-two defense on Reed City’s Emma Lockhart and Kalee Hensel. The defense had some success as Hensel tallied nine points and Lockart six. Makenzie Switzer also tallied nine points for the Coyotes. “I’m glad we played this game and saw what they did and the kids get to see what they have to do next time,” Reed City coach Brian Koopman said. “They played the triangle on us and that allowed others to step up.” Big Rapids trailed 18-14 nearly three minutes into the second quarter when Lockhart picked up her third foul. With the senior on the bench, the Cardinals began to press and turned the deficit into a 27-23 lead at halftime. “Hensel and Lockhart were who we wanted to stop and I think we probably did a good job,” Haist said. “So when (Lockhart) was out of the game, we had to take advantage.” The Cardinals pushed their lead to as many as eight points, 39-31, with Lockhart sitting on the bench after her fourth foul. But the Coyotes responded late in the third and early in the fourth quarters, trimming the deficit to 39-38. “When Emma handles the ball, we are a different team,” Koopman said. “She knows what to do — she can shoot, she can penetrate, she’s an all-around good player. “I’m upset that we lost, but glad we saw this game early in the year,” he continued. “We know what to work on.” Big Rapids pulled away late in the game, hitting free throws and getting the ball into the post. The Cardinals were paced by Elizabeth Nonhof with 20 points on the strenght of four triples, while Kendra Enszer netted 12 points. Woodworth finished with nine points for Big Rapids. “I felt confident with my shot, even when I miss, coach says to keep shooting,” Nonhof said. “But I have to give credit to my teammates for getting me the ball.” View more photos at our photo gallery!