2017-01-19 / Sports

St. Mary racks off fifth straight win

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


HALEY TARSA (22) tallies two of her 11 points Monday during St. Mary’s home win over Mesick. Tarsa put together an impressive three-game stretch last week, pouring in a combined 33 points. 
Photo: Dan Duffiney HALEY TARSA (22) tallies two of her 11 points Monday during St. Mary’s home win over Mesick. Tarsa put together an impressive three-game stretch last week, pouring in a combined 33 points. Photo: Dan Duffiney St. Mary may not want to mess with its halftime routine anytime soon.

Not after what the Lady Eagles did last week, anyway. The team outscored opponents 88-42 in the second half of three games last week en route to taking down Grand Traverse Academy 41-18 last Thursday, Hale 45-36 on Saturday and Mesick 45-16 on Monday.

The Lady Eagles (8-1, 1-1 Cherryland) aren’t necessarily known as a second-half team, but they’ve been awfully tough to beat since the second half of the 2015-16 campaign.

The team is 15-2 in that span, which started after a 31-26 loss at Grand Traverse Academy last February.

“What keeps you humble is one was a conference game and one was a district game,” St. Mary coach Pete Finch said of the pair of losses, which came against Suttons Bay and Northport. “Plus they were both against county rivals. That keeps you motivated.”


ST. MARY’S Hanna Grant lines up a free throw Monday during the team’s win over Mesick. Photo: Dan Duffiney ST. MARY’S Hanna Grant lines up a free throw Monday during the team’s win over Mesick. Photo: Dan Duffiney Last year’s loss at Grand Traverse Academy did the same, although the Eagles didn’t show it in the first half against the Mustangs on Thursday.

The Mustangs led 14-13 at halftime and seemed to have the Eagles on their heels, but a halftime adjustment allowed St. Mary to flip the script.

“We took a breath, took a half a second, and decided to lean into what we do well, which is defense and creating points off turnovers,” Finch said.

The Eagles did plenty of both in the second half, outscoring the Mustangs 28-5. St. Mary finished with 18 steals, 11 assists and five players with at least six points.

Balanced scoring was less of a factor Saturday when the Eagles found themselves in a neck-and-neck second half with Hale, but Hanna Grant and Haley Tarsa were up to the task.

Grant scored 13 of her game-high 15 points and Tarsa tallied 10 of her 14 points in the second half as St. Mary secured the nine-point win with clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch.

“We’re getting great leadership from both Haley Tarsa and Emily Holmes,” Finch said. “We had to really manage the game in the last five to six minutes in terms of protecting the lead and being more stingy on defense, and Haley and Holmes willed us to doing it right. For being a non-conference game on a Saturday, it was an emotional victory. We really had to dig.”

The team carried its momentum into Monday’s matchup with Mesick, opening up a 16-4 halftime lead before running away with a 29-point win.

Finch said the score was a bit misleading. Mesick made St. Mary work.

“We kind of got off to a rough start,” he said of the first half. “It didn’t feel like 16-4. There are days the basket has a lid on it and you have to muscle through it — and that’s what we did.”

Grant finished with her third 15-point performance of the season while Tarsa, who is averaging a teamhigh 5.5 rebounds per game, added 11 points.

The Eagles will look to stay hot at home, maybe even from the opening tip, on Friday against Ellsworth.

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