2017-03-23 / Sports

Spitzley, Pirates rally past Glen Lake in East Lansing

Lady Lakers run out of postseason magic in Class C semifinals, look ahead to next season
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


GLEN LAKE basketball players make their way to the locker room following their 64-51 loss to Pewamo-Westphalia in the Class C semifinals at the Breslin Center ast Thursday. GLEN LAKE basketball players make their way to the locker room following their 64-51 loss to Pewamo-Westphalia in the Class C semifinals at the Breslin Center ast Thursday. In many ways, the Glen Lake girls had no business being at the Breslin Center last week. The Lady Lakers lost three of four non-conference games in the regular season, made zero appearances in the AP Poll and, with just four postseason wins in their previous three seasons, weren’t exactly known for their playoff pedigree. In February, few would have guessed the Cinderella team would attend the royal ball.

The glass slipper fit, however, and the unranked Lakers danced their hearts out. The team knocked off Grand Traverse Academy, No. 2 St. Francis, Elk Rapids, Lake City, Charlevoix and No. 7 St. Ignace en route to its first trip to East Lansing in 16 years.

Cinderella finally met her match at the Breslin Center last Thursday, losing 64-51 to No. 6 Pewamo-Westphalia in the Class C semifinals, but the performance— and storybook season—has certainly put coach Jason Bradford’s program back on the map.


GLEN LAKE junior Jennifer LaCross looks for space in the Pewamo-Westphalia defense last Thursday. LaCross, who poured in 13 points in the loss, was the leading scorer for a Glen Lake team that finished 23-4 this winter. She and three other starters are expected to return next season. GLEN LAKE junior Jennifer LaCross looks for space in the Pewamo-Westphalia defense last Thursday. LaCross, who poured in 13 points in the loss, was the leading scorer for a Glen Lake team that finished 23-4 this winter. She and three other starters are expected to return next season. “It was a goal, a dream that we talked about,” Bradford said. “We talked about going to the quarterfinals. Our goal was to play St. Ignace in the regional final—and we took it one step further.”

Were it not for foul trouble and a primetime performance from Pewamo’s Emily Spitzley, the Glen Lake girls may have taken it two steps further.

The team gave its fans plenty to cheer for with 3:14 left in the first half as five straight Allie Bonzelet points broke an 18-18 tie, sparked a 9-0 run and gave Glen Lake its largest lead of the game, 25-16.


GLEN LAKE will be tasked with replacing two key contributors, seniors Kelly Bunek and Sarah Carney, next year. The Lakers are, however, expected to return 12 of 14 players from their postseason roster. 
Photo: Bob Ewing GLEN LAKE will be tasked with replacing two key contributors, seniors Kelly Bunek and Sarah Carney, next year. The Lakers are, however, expected to return 12 of 14 players from their postseason roster. Photo: Bob Ewing “Glen Lake came after us tonight,” Pewamo coach Steve Eklund said. “They were out-hustling us. One of our goals is to never get outworked ... and I’d say for the first eight to 10 minutes, we were getting out-hustled. They were quick to every loose ball.”

From there, Pewamo went to work.

Layups from Spitzley, Kate Hengesbach, Brenna Wirth and a pair of free throws trimmed Glen Lake’s lead to 25-24 at the half.

Pewamo kept attacking in the third quarter, scoring the first six points.

“They put us on our heels a little bit,” Bradford said of the 14-point swing. “We were kind of shell-shocked as the score went the other way.”

Bonzelet stopped the Pewamo run with a jumper at the 5:28 mark of the third quarter before three big free throws and a Kaitlyn Schaub layup put Glen Lake back on top, 32-31.

The lead didn’t last. Pewamo pulled away again late in the third quarter and, perhaps more importantly, put a handful Glen Lake girls in foul trouble.

The Lady Lakers, who trailed 45-38 entering the fourth frame, managed to cut Pewamo’s lead to one with buckets from Jen LaCross and Kelly Bunek—but could not swing the momentum.

Glen Lake’s press produced more fouls than turnovers, putting four of five starters in danger of fouling out. The fouls led to 21 fourth-quarter free-throw attempts, which allowed the Pirates to put the game out of reach.

“That made a big difference,” Bradford said.

The Pirates shot 23-of-41 (56 percent) from the stripe and 1-of-11 from long range (9 percent), but seemed to come up with timely second-chance points when they needed them most.

Spitzley paced Pewamo with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Wirth added 13 points while Hengesbach chipped in with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Bonzelet led Glen Lake offensively with 14 points. LaCross tallied 13 points and Bunek, who made her way off the court for the final time during a fourth-quarter timeout, had 11.

Bradford said Bunek and fellow senior Sarah Carney will be missed.

“There’s going to be some big shoes to fill,” he said. “Kelly Bunek’s been up here for four years on varsity, handling the ball up top and taking control. Tough as nails. It’s going to be tough to replace her. Carney coming over (from St. Francis), spent four years on varsity and was a two-year starter for me. A lot of intensity. She’s one of the smartest girls on defense. Now, we need some of these younger girls to step up.”

Bunek echoed a similar sentiment.

“It’s up to the younger girls to keep it going and hopefully be here again next year,” Bunek said.

Carney expressed her appreciation for the Glen Lake fans and members of the student section, which boarded three spectator buses for the occasion.

“It was just very rewarding to see the support,” Carney said.

Despite the loss, Bradford sees the trip to East Lansing as a stepping stone.

In fact, he said his girls are already looking forward to next season.

“Even as a coach, this experience is going to go a long way,” he said. “It’s about confidence for the girls.

“We’re losing two seniors, but I just look at the girls and at all the junior-high players in the stands— now they know that anything is possible.”

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