2017-03-09 / Sports

Glen Lake gets past Glads, captures district crown

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

For the first time since 2001, the Glen Lake girls are district champions.

The Lady Lakers lifted the district trophy following a 69-48 win over Elk Rapids in Traverse City on Friday, but the high point of the tournament took place on the same floor one day prior.

Six points from Jennifer LaCross made the difference in crunch time last Thursday as Glen Lake stunned No. 2 St. Francis in the district semis, 50-44.

The Lady Glads, who advanced to the Class C championship game last season, eliminated Glen Lake from the 2015 and 2016 district tournaments.

“That’s what our goal has been, to beat St. Francis,” said LaCross, who led Glen Lake with 16 points. “I’ve lost to them four times. We were sick of losing to them and just wanted to win. Our practices have focused on defense, boxing out and finishing games — and that’s what we did today.”

Glen Lake (now 21-3) led by as many as nine in the first half but couldn’t keep St. Francis (19-2) from mounting a comeback in the fourth quarter. Led by 6-foot-4 center Juliana Phillips, the Glads opened up a 6-0 run midway through the fourth frame and knotted the score at 42 apiece.

LaCross and the Lakers didn't panic, however. Instead, they tightened up defensively and went back to work.

Allie Bonzelet calmly put Glen Lake up 44-42 with a nifty pump fake and a 5-footer off the glass before LaCross put the game out of reach with back-to-back layups and a pair of free throws.

The Lakers closed the game out on an 8-2 run, sparking a long-awaited celebration full of smiles, sweaty hugs and tears of joy.

"Five years in a row, losing to them," senior guard Kelly Bunek said. "I said, 'This is my last chance, senior year. We're going to take it.' And we did."

Defensively, LaCross and Sarah Carney teamed up to limit 6-foot-4 senior Juliana Phillips to eight points and seven rebounds as Glen Lake held the Glads to a season-low 44 points.

Carney, a St. Francis transfer, finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.

"Everyone just came together and I felt so much support," Carney said. "It was hard to play against my old classmates in my old gym, but I just felt so much support from the fans, my teammates and my coaches."

Bonzelet finished with eight points and five rebounds. Bunek and Savannah Peplinski added six points apiece.

Glen Lake coach Jason Bradford was all smiles after the game.

"This is just amazing," Bradford said. "Nine years of coaching and working so hard — just amazing."

St. Francis coach Keith Haske said Glen Lake's ability to corral loose balls made the difference down the stretch.

That said, Haske was anything but surprised by the effort from Glen Lake.

"We expected them going to the hole and just being scrappy," he said. "They went to the hole and finished and we didn't, so a lot of credit to them."

Peplinski paced Glen Lake offensively against Elk Rapids in the district final, pouring in 19 points. LaCross chipped in with 13, Bunek tacked on 12 and Bonzelet added 11.

The Lakers, who shot 15-of-17 from the free-throw line, led 34-18 at halftime and finished in emphatic fashion with 25 points in the fourth quarter.

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