HOWARD CITY — Tri County’s girls basketball team went into the Class B district tournament with just three wins. Belding’s team had six.
On paper, the Redskins had a big advantage. But the Vikings didn’t cooperate.
Tri County is moving on to semifinals after beating the Redskins 67-57 on their home floor Monday night.
“We played well (Monday night),” Tri County coach Wes Zerlaut said. “We found a way to put it in the bucket and even though we got down there late in the third quarter we battled back and put 26 points up in the fourth quarter.”
The Vikings jumped on Belding (6-15) early on, keeping the Redskins off the board until there was 3:25 left. That was the start of a 10-3 run for Belding that ended with an 11-10 deficit.
“We had a little bit of success with the pressure defense throughout the game,” Zerlaut said. “I think it gave them (Belding) a little bit of trouble early. They came storming back, it was just a one-point lead at the end of the quarter.”
In the second quarter both teams found their shooting touches, as the Vikings outscored the Redskins 19-18 for a 30-28 lead at the break.
But Belding forced a lot of Tri County turnovers in the third quarter to take a 46-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
“One of the things we talked about to the girls all the time was let the game come to you,” Belding coach Mike Nelson said. “They were probably a little overly geeked. We settled down and played a good third quarter.”
However the fourth quarter was the decider. The Vikings caused a lot of Belding turnovers and jumped out on a 13-0 run over the first 3:48 of the quarter to take a 54-46 lead, which they never gave up.
“That fourth quarter we had way too many defensive breakdowns,” Nelson said.
In fact, Belding had only two field goals in the final eight minutes.
“We talked at halftime about how the key to the second half was defense,” Zerlaut said. “We had to stop giving up those easy baskets. It helped us when No. 12 (Stefanie Harig) picked up her fifth foul because we could focus our defense more on No. 2 (McKenzie Breimayer) and trying to keep dribble penetration from getting to the lane.”
Geneva Keech and Alexis Firovich led the Vikings with 24 points each for 48 of the 67 total points.
Belding had four players in double figures, accounting for all but 12 of their points. Briemayer had 13, Haylee Batzer had 12 and Harig and Rachel Hunt had 10 each.
The Vikings will host Central Montcalm in the second game of the district semifinals Wednesday.
TRI COUNTY 67, BELDING 57
Belding 10 18 18 11 — 57
Tri County 11 19 11 26 — 67
BELDING (6-15) — Breimayer 4 4-6 13, Silvernail 0 2-2 2, Harig 3 2-8 10, Holyfield 3 2-8 10, Holyfield 2 0-0 4, Hunt 3 3-4 10, Batzer 4 3-4 12, Reminga 2 2-4 6. Totals: 18 16-28 57. Three-point goals: Breimayer, Harig 2, Hunt, Batzer. Total fouls: 19. Fouled out: Harig.
TRI COUNTY (4-17) — Lagunas 0 1-3 1, Keech 9 5-6 24, Redner 0 2-4 2, Caverley 1 0-0 2, Ke. Hackbardt 4 2-3 11, Ka.Hackbardt1 1-2 3, Firovich 8 4-5 24. Totals: 23 15-23 67. Three-point goals: Keech, Ke. Hackbardt, Firovich 3. Total fouls: 20. Fouled out: none.