STANTON — It is a sign of a good team when players from the winning team aren’t satisfied with just a dominating win.
The Central Montcalm girls basketball team took control of Tuesday night’s game against the Montabella Mustangs early to earn its fourth victory of the year with a 53-20 win, but Bree Brasington wasn’t happy with her team’s performance despite the win.
“I think we played horrible. I don’ think we played hard at all until the second half after we got in (foul) trouble,” said the senior forward. “Then we came out and tried harder.”
With 3:37 minutes to go in the third quarter, the Green Hornets (4-1 overall) made back-to-back fouls from two seniors, Libby Ledford and Kenzie Rutz, who each drew their fourth foul and had to be pulled from the game.
Though Central Montcalm was up 27-11, Hornets coach Rob Putnam didn’t want to see the Mustangs (1-2 overall) climb back into the game.
That’s when Brasington took charge.
“I really thought that, in the second half, Bree was our spark plug,” Putnam said. “Both defensively and with rebounding. I really thought that when Libby and Rutz got in foul trouble, Bree was the leader. She carried us, and it wasn’t all scoring. It was the little things.”
Brasington harassed the Mustangs in the paint all night, pulling down eight rebounds and scoring five points.
“When we got into foul trouble, I stepped it up on defense and rebounding, where I think I did a good job taking control there. I feel like I did a good job there, but that did hurt us when (Rutz and Ledford) got in foul trouble.”
Ledford, who led all scorers with 18 points, starting hitting more shots when she came back into the game.
“The first half was really rough. We came out kind of slow and we knew we had to pick it up in the second half,” Ledford said. “We just weren’t feeling it in the first half. I try to change it up, look for whatever is open. In the first half, I wasn’t moving enough. I needed to get myself more open.”
For Montabella, hesitancy to take more shots was one of the bigger reasons the Mustangs couldn’t make a second-half comeback, said Mustangs coach Terry Larsen.
“In the half, we tried a couple different things and it worked, we shut (Hannah) Putnam and Ledford down pretty good,” Larsen said. “But we were slow motion on offense and didn’t want to take a shot. If you don’t take shots, you’re not going to make points.”
One thing Larsen’s never seen from his usually spitfire team was quitting, but Tuesday night, he believed he did.
“We could’ve whittled the lead down and loss by less, but instead we quit. It’s not something I’ve seen from these girls before,” he admitted.
With one more game before Christmas break, a home game Friday against Ashley, Larsen will look for one thing in particular from his girls that evaporated against Central Montcalm — intensity.
“I’m going to tell my girls to bring the intensity for the next game, don’t quit when you’re way ahead or way behind,” he said.
For Central Montcalm, which faces Grant on the road Friday, confidence must be balanced, according to Ledford.
“We’re confident but not too over-confident,” she said. “We know we’re a good team, but we can’t look down at any team.”
Along with her 18 points, Ledford collected seven rebounds. Both Rutz and Wilkie scored eight points for the Hornets. Wernette finished with four steals, three assists, four points and one block.
Montabella was led by Hanna Stockwell, who finished with 10 points and three rebounds, followed by Madi Cutler, who had eight points, three rebounds and one steal.