GREENVILLE — For the second consecutive game, the Greenville Yellow Jackets’ defense was the deciding factor in its victory.
Once the Yellow Jackets (2-0) got the lead, they used their size and strength to force turnovers, missed shots, grab rebounds and get to the free throw line in a 54-37 win over the Belding Redskins at North Gym on Friday night.
“I thought we were very good, defensively,” Greenville coach Eric Nichols said. “I thought Sam O’Herron was outstanding. Our team defense was very good and I was happy.”
After a slow start, Greenville grabbed an 8-6 lead on two free throws by Kae Page. For the next two-and-a-half quarters, the Yellow Jackets defense would surrender just 12 points, while increasing its lead to 32-18 after three quarters.
“Obviously, we are disappointed. We wanted to win this game,” Belding coach Brad Wilson said. “We didn’t get a lot of offense flowing early. We turned the ball over a lot and it’s really tough to play behind.”
Greenville led 21-14 at halftime, but opened the second half on a 7-0 run. Belding (1-1) did not score its first points of the third quarter until 2:29 remaining on a basket by Rachel Hunt.
“They are a really good defensive team and I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Wilson said. “Some of our errors were unforced; some of it we were trying to do to much. When you’re behind in a big game, sometimes you want to force things. We could not get into the flow.”
Greenville found its flow and were able to score inside and get to the free throw line.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and that is a credit to my staff,” Nichols said. “We moved people around into spots. Once we knew where we could get the ball to, they couldn’t stop our ‘bigs.’”
The Redskins fought inside, but could not win the battles. Fouls piled up and so did the free throws for Greenville.
Leah Somerfield scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. Eight of those points came from the free throw line.
“They were much bigger and stronger than we were,” Wilson said. “We wanted to run and turn this into a track meet. It did not work out, but Greenville executed well. Their seniors played well.”
Nichols credited his team’s defensive play to a variety of reasons, but mainly their experience.
“We are athletic, whether we are playing small or big, and we are smart,” Nichols said. “That’s the other thing. We have four starting seniors and they play well together. We are playing more man (defense) then we did last year.”
McKenzie Breimayer led the Redskins with 15 points. Stefanie Harig added eight points and Katie Wood six points.
After making just seven of its first 17 free throws, the Yellow Jackets connected on 14-of-17 in the fourth quarter.
“It is something we have to work on,” Nichols said. “We will adjust it and get better at it. Good thing is we are getting to the line. That is a positive.”
Megan O’Brien scored 10 points and Taylor Baker scored nine points for Greenville.
“It was a big game. It was a tough environment,” Wilson said. “I thought, overall, we played as hard as we could. A good team played really well and beat us.”
Belding will host Ottawa Hills on Thursday, while Greenville is at NorthPointe Christian on Friday.
GREENVILLE 54, BELDING 37
Belding 8 6 4 19 — 37
Greenville 10 11 11 22 — 54
BELDING (1-1) — Breimayer 5 4-6 15, Alkire 1 0-0 2, Harig 3 2-6 8, Hunt 1 0-0 2, Wilker 0 3-4 3, Batzer 0 1-2 1, Wood 2 2-5 6. Totals: 12 12-23 37. Three-point goals: Breimayer. Total fouls: 25. Fouled out: None.
GREENVILLE (2-0) — Baker 3 3-4 9, O’Brien 4 1-8 10, O’Herron 2 1-0 5, Bernth 0 3-4 3, Page 0 3-4 3, Howe 2 0-0 4, Somerfield 5 10-12 20. Totals: 16 21-34 54. Three-point goals: O’Brien. Total fouls: 20. Fouled out: Bernth.