BLANCHARD — The first and second halfs for the Montabella girls basketball team were night and day.
The Mustangs couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, but unloaded in the the final two quarters to top MSAC rival Vestaburg 42-16 at home on Thursday night.
“We got our shots. We had 13 shots in the first quarter,” Montabella coach Terry Larsen said. “We just couldn’t get it in and we couldn’t rebound. We would have had more shots had we rebounded.”
Both teams combined for two points in the first quarter as the Mustangs were shutout, despite the 13 shots. The second quarter wasn’t much better.
Late in the second quarter — trailing 6-2 — Larsen called a timeout. He noticed his team was becoming hesitant shooting the ball. For the first time in the game, the Mustangs showed signs of life when play resumed.
Sarah Miller hit her first shot and that was followed by a three-pointer by Emily Korte to open a 7-6 lead. Vestaburg’s Emma Schuch hit a late shot for an 8-7 halftime lead.
“Our defense saved us,” Larsen said. “All we did at halftime was tell them they have to believe. They were hesitant since nothing was falling.”
“We were doing a good job defensively. They came out and knocked down like three three’s,” Vestaburg coach Gary Keyes said. “They got hot. It’s not that we didn’t play good defense. They were just knocking down shots.”
Montabella began the second half with a Korte three-pointer that started a 13-2 run to open a 20-10 lead with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter. The Mustangs combined for three triples in the third quarter.
“Emily Korte really took the game over offensively,” Larsen said. “She had three three-pointers. She took it over in the third quarter and then controlled it after that.”
Vestaburg was held to two points in the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t get into our sets,” Keyes said. “Montabella is good at ball pressure and we didn’t handle it well enough.”
The offense continued for the Mustangs in the final quarter as the outscored the Wolverines 22-5. Larson scored 10 of her 11 points in the quarter.
“Gabby (Larson) was definitely the most aggressive in the first half, but she only had a few shots.” Larson said. “She went after it in the second half. We did a lot more driving and rebounded.”
Vestaburg was playing for the first time without point guard Lauren Bissell who was injured.
“We lost her (Bissell) last week. We were at a disadvantage a little bit,” Keyes said. “She has played with these other four seniors throughout their careers. She calms the team.”
Vestaburg dropped to 6-6 overall and will host Big Rapids Crossroads Academy on Tuesday.
Montabella improved to 10-3 overall and 5-1 in the league.
They travel to Evart Monday and hosts MSAC leader Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart on Thursday.
Vestaburg 2 6 3 5 — 16
Montabella 0 7 13 22 — 42
VESTABURG (6-6) — Rons 1 0-1 2, Dove 0 0-2 0, Schuch 1 0-2 2, Gostomski 0 0-1 0, Calverley 0 1-2 1, Darmoday 3 1-2 7, Beach 2 0-0 4. Totals: 7 2-10 16. Three-point goals: None. Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.
MONTABELLA (10-3) — Korte 4 0-0 11, Smith 1 0-0 3, Larson 3 5-9 11, Miller 4 4-5 13, Allen 1 0-0 2, Okkema 1 0-0 2. Totals: 14 9-14 42. Three-point goals: Korte 3, Smith, Larson. Total fouls: 17. Fouled out: None.