Turnovers hamper Coyotes girls basketball in season opener

REED CITY—It was a tough opener for the young Reed City Coyotes girls basketball team against Benzie Central.

Opening the season on Tuesday night, the Coyotes squad trotted out a young starting five that consisted of one junior, three sophomores and a freshman. With limited practice time and going up against a tough full court press, it took the Coyotes one half to get things going. Ultimately, they fell 53-42.

Benzie Central's full court press was initially too much for the Coyotes in the first half, causing issues for the young back court and forcing numerous turnovers.

"For what we ran out there with a junior, a sophomore, sophomore, sophomore in a flash game starting, I was happy" coach Tim Beilfuss said. "I was happy. I knew that we were going to turn the ball over if they pressed us and from what we've seen on film, we knew that press was coming. This was kind of the first live action we had. With no scrimmages and a shortened preseason, if you have a shortened preseason with a senior group you're fine. When you're doing it with all lower classmen, it's a little bit of an issue."

Despite the high number of turnovers, the Coyotes went to halftime down 33-23. The Coyotes would be outscored 12-6 in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter down 45-29. They bounced back to close the gap to nine points in the fourth before falling 53-42. Part of the reason for the stronger second half was the limited number of turnovers.

"I think the second half they were all better and that's one thing that we've been talking about everyday: be better in every rep every day whether it's in the gym in the classroom. You have to be better standards in the program." Beilfuss said.

The Coyotes also had a few issues at the free-throw line, shooting 11-of-24 on the evening.

"We're piecing it together. We've got great pieces. We're going put the puzzle together with the right kids, and they're a great group of kids," Beilfuss said. "That's the one thing: they get along so well. They know what we're coming in to work on. We talked about three things: take care of the basketball. Everybody talks about that. We can't get out rebounded. We have so many home games in a row that you want to protect home court. You also have to make free throws; shooting 11-of-24 isn't going to cut it."

Junior Molly Bowman led the Coyotes in scoring on the evening, putting up 11 points. Junior Kyleigh Weck had nine points, Freshman Morgan Hammond had eight points and Casey Terryn had six points.

"But the effort my kids gave, I'm actually really proud of them." Beilfuss said.

Sanford Meridian 60, Evart 52

Evart fell in Carrie Kunkle’s coaching debut on Tuesday.

“It was a hard fought game,” Kunkle said. “We had a very right third quarter where we came back from being down by 20 points and we actually tied it up at end of the third quarter. We had a pretty solid press that was effective in the third quarter.

“One of the things I ran into late is Addysen Gray, one of my senior captains, and Emma Dyer, my sophomore, both ended up fouling out. We had to foul because we were down. Meridian hit 8-of-9 free throws. Ally Theunick had a great game. She was solid on the boards and did a great job boxing out, and taking control of the game. I was also very pleased with Brooklyn Decker and her effort. She has a great nose for the ball. She did a great job rebounding and getting some crucial rebounds.”

Evart is home against Beal City on Friday in Highland Conference action.

Manistee 43, Pine River 38

LEROY – Steffen Halvorsen’s debut as Pine River coach was spoiled in this loss on Monday in the season opener.

Pine River trailed 18-13 after the first quarter but led, 29-25 at halftime and trailed 33-31 after the third period.

Freshman Emma Tice led the Bucks with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Madi Sparks and Amanda Hill had six points apiece.