2017-11-30 / Sports

St. Mary girls start basketball season off with a bang

Lady Eagles lean on seniors, win big at Alba
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

ST. MARY girls basketball coach Pete Finch talks Xs and Os with his Lady Eagles at a Nov. 20 practice. The team began its season at Alba on Tuesday. ST. MARY girls basketball coach Pete Finch talks Xs and Os with his Lady Eagles at a Nov. 20 practice. The team began its season at Alba on Tuesday. The 70-point plateau proved elusive to girls basketball teams on the Leelanau Peninsula last season. No team, not even state semifinalist Glen Lake, scored 70 in a game.

It didn’t take long this year.

All 11 St. Mary players found the scoresheet in their season opener at Alba on Tuesday as the Lady Eagles erupted for 75 points — the most by a Leelanau County girls team since February 2016 — in a 75-18 win. The last county club to score 75 was Glen Lake in a 77-51 district quarterfinal win over Johannesburg-Lewiston.

“We really moved the ball well,” said St. Mary coach Pete Finch, who has guided the St. Mary girls to backto back 12-win seasons. “It was nice to see the things we work on in practice put to use in a game, whether it was blocking out or running the floor the way we want to run the floor.”

The top cross country runner in the county this fall, senior guard Hanna Grant, paced St. Mary offensively with 14 points. Senior forward Alyssa Davis reached double figures, as well, with 10 points. Senior guard Lexi Schaub netted nine. A pair of juniors, Alexandra Kirt and Breanna Weber, chipped in with eight points apiece while fellow junior Lindsey Fleis, a center, pulled down six offensive rebounds.

Offensively, Finch said St. Mary’s ability to establish an inside presence “made all the difference in the world.”

The team took care of the ball, too, tallying 17 assists and just one second half turnover.

“It was fun to watch,” Finch said.

Successful as the program was last season, a high-powered offense wasn’t exactly the St. Mary modus operandi. The team put up fewer than 40 points in 13 of 19 games, scoring a season-high 56 in a win over the Traverse City Bulldog Athletic Association. The offensive output on Tuesday more than doubled the team’s 2016-17 average of 34.8 points.

The team, which shot 45 percent from the charity stripe last season, knocked down 13-of-24 attempts (54.2 percent) in the victory.

“Alba’s down a little bit, but it was a good first game in terms of getting the jitters out,” Finch said. “We didn’t do any scrimmaging this year, so it was a good game to start the season and see what we’ve got.”

Two road games separate St. Mary from its home opener against Leland on Thursday. The Eagles play Buckley on Monday and North Bay on Wednesday in Northport.

North Bay was slated to start its season in Northport after press time last night against visiting Bear Lake; Glen Lake and Leland begin their 2017-18 campaigns Friday night against Elk Rapids and the Traverse City Bulldog Athletic Association, respectively.

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