GREENVILLE — It didn’t take long for the girls high school basketball season to heat up.
In just the second game for both schools, the Greenville Yellow Jackets will host longtime rival Belding Redskins tonight at 7 p.m.
Both teams are coming off Tuesday night opening season victories.
Belding defeated Wyoming Godwin Heights 67-27 at home. Freshman Katie Wood led the Redskins with 14 points.
“I think we played very well and I was pleased. I had the chance to see everybody on the team play,” Belding coach Brad Wilson said. “Overall, I was very pleased with the effort. We still have a lot to do and we worked on some of that this week.”
Wilson, in his first season as varsity coach, is looking to see a few things early in the season.
“We always want to play good defense. That is the foundation of our program,” Wilson said. “Offensively, we want to cut down on turnovers and be a little more consistent.”
The Yellow Jackets defeated Muskegon Reeths-Puffer at home Tuesday 46-33. A 20-9 fourth quarter output by Greenville helped to seal the game.
Greenville coach Eric Nichols said it took a little while to get going.
“I thought it was a typical first game where we did some nice things,” he said. “I thought we were very good defensively. Offensively, we played well in spurts. In the fourth quarter we finished some of the same looks we missed earlier.”
Leah Somerfield led the Yellow Jackets with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Tonight, the Yellow Jackets will have the advantage in experience. They will start four seniors, while the Redskins just one.
Wilson expects it to be a tough game and is focused on stopping Somerfield.
“They start four seniors, so they have a lot of experience coming in,” Wilson said. “They have a standout junior in Somerfield. They like to get the ball into her and she is exceptional off the glass. We have to pay special attention to her.”
Nichols is expecting a fast paced game.
“They will try to play up tempo. I expect them to shoot the three a little more than they have in the past,” Wilson said. “We expect them to bring as much pressure as they feel they need. It will be a fast paced game.”
Playing up tempo is something Greenville can do.
“We will play up tempo if we have to. I think we are interchangeable in a lot of places,” Nichols said. “We can play a power game when we have to and we can play up tempo when we have to.”
With Somerfield grabbing rebound after rebound, Wilson said they will need to find their own rebounds and hold onto the ball.
“We have to rebound well and take care of the ball,” he said. “Anytime your playing a team with four senior starters, they have been there and done that. We have a mixture of young and older players and they will have to grow up pretty fast.”
Wilson is excited to coach in the rivalry game for the first time. Winning the game, though is the key.
“I’m very excited,” Wilson said. “When I took over that was the first game I circled and really wanted to win. We have a long ways to go and a lot to prepare for. They are deep and don’t make a lot of mistakes. We are very excited and can’t wait to tip it off.”
Nichols is ready for the game, as well, but wishes the game opened the season as the schools do in football.
“From a rivalry standpoint it’s always good to get that focus early in the season,” Nichols said. “I wish we were able to open the season with a boys/girls doubleheader against Belding, but that is not the case.”