GREENVILLE — By the time the fourth quarter began the Greenville Yellow Jackets found themselves trailing by five points. It was also the time they settled down.
Greenville seniors Katie Dunham and Mackenzy Nichols hit shot after shot in the fourth quarter to lead the Yellow Jackets to a season opening victory over the Cedar Springs Red Hawks 40-33.
“I think it’s a good start. I think it’s was a typical game one where I have young kids and they were nervous,” Greenville coach Eric Nichols said. “I thought we really settled down at the beginning of the fourth quarter.”
With the Yellow Jackets down 27-22 to start the fourth quarter Dunham hit consecutive shots to pull Greenville within one point. After a defensive stop Nichols drained a 24-foot three-point shot to give Greenville it’s first lead since early in the second quarter.
“I think we had some pretty good senior leadership down the stretch,” Nichols said. “We started to eliminate second shots. I thought we owned the glass defensively in the fourth quarter, which was huge.”
Two free throws by sophomore Leah Somerfield (13 points and nine rebounds) and another three-pointer by Nichols gave Greenville a 34-27 lead with 3:48 remaining in the game.
“We made an adjustment and played a lot more pick and roll,” Nichols said. “That’s a credit to my staff because that was a suggestion. And that’s what we do is bounce ideas off each other. We went with it and found some mismatches.”
The Red Hawks scored the next six points to pull with one at 34-33 with just 2:10 remaining in the game.
“We played hard. We just didn’t make some shots we should make,” Cedar Springs coach Scott Taylor said. “They made a couple down the stretch that they hadn’t made the whole game. The difference was shooting percentage.”
Clinging to the lead, Dunham scored the four points to extend Greenville’s lead and put the game out of reach. In all, Greenville outscored the Red Hawks 18-6 in the fourth quarter.
“We scored six points in the fourth quarter,” Taylor said. “You have to make shots. We got some pretty decent looks that we make in practice, but didn’t here. We did have to rush some shots.”
The game started slow with Greenville leading 6-3 after the first quarter. Cedar Springs captured the lead early in the second and led at halftime 17-14.
“I thought we got better. We had six turnovers in the first quarter and 11 for the game,” Nichols said of handling the ball.
Nichols finished the game with 15 points. Dunham added 10 points and five rebounds. Britta Bernth grabbed five rebounds and Tayor Baker had four assists.
“I want to credit our bench for giving us solid minutes tonight,” Nichols said. “Britta Bernth, Sam O’Herron and Anna Ralph helped off the bench.”
Tiffany Karger led the Red Hawks with 14 points. Molly Holtrop added eight points and Rachael Ludtke had seven points.
The Red Hawks (0-1) will face Lowell at home Thursday. Greenville (1-0) will travel to rival Belding on Friday. The Redskins lost to Kent City on Tuesday 73-32.
“It’s a rivalry game. It doesn’t matter who’s young or old,” Nichols said. “They are going to be ready, but I know our girls will be too.”