STANTON — It wasn’t a clean game or a crisp game, but Rob Putnam will take the win.
After a long holiday break, his Central Montcalm girls basketball team had to shake off some rust that built up over Christmas and New Year’s break to beat the Morley Stanwood Mohawks 53-35 Tuesday.
“You could tell we were sluggish,” Putnam said. “We did have a scrimmage over break, no school today, so just getting back into it, it will be good tomorrow to get back into the routine. I knew tonight would be a little sluggish just because of those circumstances, but I thought we battle through it and pulled out a very good win.”
Since losing their season-opening game, the Green Hornets have put together a six-game winning streak, although, according to senior forward Kenzie Rutz, it took a bit to get back on track versus the Mohawks (3-4 overall).
“Definitely, I think it’s hard to get back into the groove of things after any break,” said Rutz, who scored 11 points on the night. “We played a little slow to start and not to our full potential, but towards the end, I think we started playing our game again.”
Sophomore guard Kiara Wernette got a steal and a buck to start a 10-0 scoring run for the Green Hornets, establishing a 17-8 lead, in which Central Montcalm never relinquished.
Putnam said it was his team’s defense and finishing-drive-layups that kept the Mohawks from creeping back into the game. The Hornets led 24-13 at halftime.
“We really been working on our defense and did a lot of shooting over break,” Putnam said. “Made a lot more lay-ups tonight. Didn’t miss nearly as much as we have in past games.”
After senior forward Bree Brasington and Wernette got into foul trouble in the third quarter, each collecting their fourth foul, Putnam turned to his bench to keep the Hornets going.
Sophomores Emilee Bohen and Kiley Guelzo, as well as junior forward Nikki Wilkie kept the team from wilting its lead.
“Em (Bohen) came in tonight and she did very well,” Putnam said. “She’s aggressive, chasing loose balls, got a couple shots to go in. That’s the great thing about these girls, somebody goes out, the next girl seems to step up. We don’t miss a lot of beats. I think her and Nikki both did a good job, getting more minutes. Overall, I was very happy.”
Bohen, who finished with four points, took over as point guard when Wernette took the bench, leading offensive drives and wasn’t afraid to get scrappy on defense.
“I’m normally scrappy on defense,” Bohen said. “We worked as a team pretty well tonight, I thought. We all worked together.”
Rutz said teamwork has been the key to the Hornets’ success, both against Morley Stanwood as well as the entire season.
“When we were struggling (against the Mohawks), we just kept chipping away,” she said. “We looked for each other. I think being a non-selfish team is the reason behind many of our successes.”
The Hornets have five league games coming up next, including a home game against Newaygo on Friday and a key match-up against undefeated Big Rapids on the road Jan. 13.
Wernette led all Hornets in scoring with 15 points, also collecting two rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Libby Ledford had nine points, five assists and three steals.
Morley Stanwood was led by freshman forward Bre Barry, who had 15 points and three rebounds, followed by senior guard Marissa Frye with 6 points.