GREENVILLE — The Greenville Yellow Jackets girls basketball team prides themselves on playing tough defense.
On Friday night, it was a defensive play in the final minutes that sealed a 55-47 O-K Bronze win over the Cedar Springs Red Hawks at home.
With less than two minutes to go, Cedar Springs senior Brittany Todd nailed a three-point shot to pull the Red Hawks within three points at 48-45. After a Greenville miss, the Red Hawks moved the ball up the court, but Greenville freshman Landon Kemp stepped in front of a pass for a steal. Kemp went the distance for a score and a 50-45 Yellow Jackets lead.
“Landon played very well,” Greenville coach Eric Nichols said. “Defensively, she anticipates really well. She got steals and those created easy buckets or, at least easy scoring opportunities. In the fourth quarter that’s what happened.”
Kemp finished with 12 points and seven steals.
“I think we had ourselves in a position down the stretch right where we needed to be,” Red Hawks coach Brandon Miller said. “We were down three points with a minute and a half left to go. At critical times we made a couple of turnovers in row so Greenville could extend the lead.”
After the Kemp steal and basket, the Yellow Jackets finished off the game by making 5-of-6 free throws, four of them by Paige Hallock.
“I thought we got out hustled tonight. I thought that was the big factor early on,” Nichols said. “They just won all the hustle points and we didn’t.”
Greenville (6-0, 1-0) led 14-12 after the first quarter and 26-22 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets extended their lead in the third quarter to 34-24 with 5:55 remaining. That’s when the Red Hawks started to chip away at the deficit. Cedar Springs trailed 39-34 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Red Hawks hit three three-pointers to pull within three points two separate times, but the Yellow Jackets responded each time.
The first time, at 42-39, with a pair of baskets by Leah Somerfield and the second time on the Kemp steal.
“We had a couple of kids step up,” Nichols said. “I though Leah (Somerfield) stepped up late. That’s what seniors are supposed to do.”
Mouthaan led all scorers with 17 points. Todd scored 11 points, while Mary Monterusso finished with 10 points for Cedar.
“That is the best we’ve shot the ball all year,” Miller said. “We’ve struggled from the field this season. Some girls stepped up and hit some shots. It makes the game go a lot smoother.”
Hallock finished with a team-high 14 points. Somerfield added 11 points and five rebounds, while Nikota Howe had 10 points and six rebounds.
“I thought we played very, very hard,” Nichols said. “I’m glad we protected at home, which is one of our goals.”
The Yellow Jackets will make up a game on Monday at home against Forest Hills Central. They travel to Grand Rapids West Catholic on Tuesday and host Forest Hills Northern on Friday.
“We have a tough three weeks coming up with eight games,” Nichols said. “They girls have to step up. We will have to find a couple of others to get in the mix of things. Hopefully, we will.”
Cedar Springs (1-5, 0-1) will face Forest Hills Northern on Tuesday.
GREENVILLE 55, CEDAR SPRINGS 47
Cedar Springs 12 10 12 13 — 47
Greenville 14 12 13 16 — 55
CEDAR SPRINGS (1-5, 0-1) — Mouthaan 8 1-1 17, Francis 1 1-2 3, Monterusso 4 0-0 10, Todd 4 0-0 11, Wight 1 2-4 4, Baker 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 4-7 47. Three-point goals: Todd 3, Monterusso 2. Total fouls: 19. Fouled out: None.
GREENVILLE (6-0, 1-0) — Bell 1 3-4 6, Paulino 1 -00 2, Kemp 4 3-4 12, Howe 4 2-2 10, Somerfield 5 0-1 11, Hallock 3 7-12 14. Totals: 18 15-23 55. Three-point goals: Bell, Kemp, Somerfield, Hallock. Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.