BLANCHARD — The youthful Montabella Mustangs girls basketball team has been playing beyond its years.
The Mustangs (8-3, 3-1) are off to an outstanding start with its three losses coming at the hands of teams still undefeated (Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, Lincoln-Alcona and Clare) and ranked in the top 12 in their respective divisions.
“A lot of people thought if we could get to Christmas at .500 we would be doing good. I agreed being young like that,” Montabella coach Terry Larsen said. “They are coming along faster defensively than even I hoped for. They are really do a lot of it on the defensive side and it has gotten us a lot of wins this year.”
Montabella is coming off a 61-59 triple overtime win at MSAC rival Beal City on Monday. Sophomore guard Taylor Smith hit five three-pointers for a team-high 19 points. She hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
“That was a forever game. They would just not go away,” Larsen said. “They are a good team. Going in we knew they were tough. We led most of the game.
“Our guards brought us through. We made 10 three-pointers that night,” he added.
In addition to playing tough defense the Mustangs love shooting three-pointers.
“We don’t always make a lot of them,” Larsen said. “But we are going to throw a bunch of them up.”
Larsen mentioned his team’s offensive versatility as another key to their success.
“We play up-tempo, we run fast break every opportunity we can,” he said. “We will fast break to a three-point shot or go in for a layup. We have a scorer off the bench and some speed as well.”
With just one loss in the conference the Mustangs are looking forward to a rematch with Sacred Heart on Feb. 2.
“I didn’t have my point guard (Emily Korte) for that one,” Larsen said. “That’s not an excuse because we get another crack at them coming up.”
First, the Mustangs travel to Coleman tonight and then face Vestaburg at home and Evart on the road in the next week and a half.
“We have a bunch of tough teams coming up so we will find out more about our team,” Larsen said.
The return first-year coach is enjoying being on the sideline again.
“It’s fun getting right into the mix again,” he said.”