ROGERS CITY-Rogers City girls basketball coach Gary Bisson loves when his team plays good defense.
So he was understandably pleased after the Hurons walked off their home court on Tuesday with a 51-29 win over Oscoda that came as a result of a solid defensive effort, particularly in the second half.
"I told them defensive pressure. I'm all about defense and I think every time you turn the volume up on defense it brings another level of play in the game of basketball," Bisson said. "You've got to keep playing the game, when you slow down, the whole game slows down."
News Photo by James Andersen
Rogers City’s Sarah Meredith (24) shoots while being defended by Oscoda’s Carley Brown during the first quarter of a girls basketball game on Tuesday at Rogers City High School.
The Hurons (4-1) jumped out to a 31-17 lead at halftime, thanks to a stellar defensive effort that held the Owls scoreless for almost five minutes, while putting together a 12-0 run on offense.
Courtney Streich led Rogers City with 13 points and Cassidy Purgiel added 12 points for the Hurons, who rebounded from a staggering loss to Posen after a 3-0 start.
Rogers City struggled early, but found its shooting touch late in the first quarter, outscoring the Owls 9-2 in the final minute and a half with seven of those points coming from Streich.
Baskets from Rachel Chojnacki and Purgiel early in the second quarter gave Rogers City a 19-10 lead and the Hurons kept a sizable lead the rest of the way.
"We're starting to go in the right direction where I want them to go, seeing the floor better, pushing the ball up the floor, just playing simple basketball," Bisson said.
The second half saw many turnovers on both sides, but it was Rogers City's defensive efforts that proved to be the different. The Hurons limited Oscoda to two buckets in the third quarter and kept the Owls off the scoreboard for the final 4:54 of the period. In addition to struggling with turnovers, the Owls missed whatever open looks they had and often had to settle for shots from outside which missed the mark.
Rogers City outscored Oscoda 12-8 in the final quarter, but kept up its defensive pressure and kept Oscoda scoreless for a nearly three-minute stretch.
Kaitlyn Scott led Oscoda with seven points.
The Hurons will have more than a week off to prepare for their next challenge, a rematch with the Vikings on Dec. 27 in Posen. Until then, Bisson can rest easy and be happy with his team's defensive improvement.
"I told them (with about five minutes to go), the first speech I gave to them when I took the job, I said, 'There's good teams and great teams. The great teams has to show up tonight.' They came out tonight and they never led down. The whole team showed a big improvement."
Rogers City's JV team defeated Oscoda 53-24. Kelly Ellenberger led the Hurons with 11 points, Brooke Dubie added 10 and Ally Streich chipped in eight. Savanah Simpson paced Oscoda with 14 points.
ROGERS CITY (51): S. Meredith 2 2-2 6; M. Quaine 3 1-2 7; Streich 6 0-2 13; C. Purgiel 6 0-2 12; R. Chojnacki 2 0-0 5; M. Hall 2 0-0 4; A. Hilla 2 0-0 4.
OSCODA (29): K. Scott 3 0-0 7; C. Brown 2 0-4 4; J. Fielders 2 2-4 6; K. Cox 0 0-2 0; L. Skidmore 2 0-0 4; C. Keathley 1 0-0 2; M. Walker 0 1-2 1; B. Ealy 0 1-2 1; P. Senn 2 0-0 4.