BELDING — First-year head coach Connor Hoke told his Belding girls basketball team all week to be tough with everything they do and good things will come.
On Tuesday, at home against a taller Hopkins Vikings team, the Redskins earned its first conference win of the season with a 47-38 win.
“We’re going to be a small team on the court every time we play and so we have to be physical. We call it toughness,” said Hoke, whose team is now 4-5 overall and 1-0 in the OK-Silver Conference. “That’s everything we talked about. Boxing out, communicating, even when you’re tired. It comes down to toughness.”
After establishing a 13-2 advantage after the first quarter, the Redskins flexed its toughness, extending their lead to 19-8 after an acrobatic, behind-the-back shot from senior point guard Hallee Breimayer.
But then Belding felt too good in the second quarter, which the Vikings took advantage, trimming the Redskins’ lead to 22-17 going into halftime.
“We need to work on playing all four quarters. We got too comfortable in that second quarter and stopped communicating,” Hoke said. “We boxed out but gave them too many chances on the offensive end for them.
“The past four or five games, we came out slow. So my message to them all week was we need, in the first four minutes of the game, to come out, put the pressure on them first, cause turnovers and do what we do.”
With 4:26 left in the third quarter, Breimayer drove to the basket, banging her knee against an opponent. She was taken out of the game temporarily but came in and fought through the charlie horse to finish with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’m good. It’s a little sore,” Breimayer said about her injury. “The same thing happened in the last game.”
With the Redskins leading 34-27 after the third quarter, foul trouble started plaguing some of Belding’s starters. However, Hoke’s bench players like Avery German and Summer Eubank filled in phenomenally.
“We had two girls in foul trouble and our bench came in and we just replaced them. We didn’t miss anything,” Hoke said. “Hallee is always impressive. But Olivia (Stephan) was great, she hit a big three for us, and Avery came off the bench and played great defense for us, too.”
Despite the Vikings tall center Mikayla Bulich racking up points and rebounds, the Redskins, with Breimayer back in the game, were able to maintain their lead and come out with a win.
“She’s a stud,” Hoke said about Bulich. “She killed us on the boards tonight, she was physical. That’s what I told the coach after the game, she outplayed us.”
Despite Bulich’s double-double of 13 ponits and 10 rebounds, Breimayer was happy with her team’s effort, especially on defense.
“On defense, when we talk, it helps out a lot,” she said. “I think what really worked out tonight was just executing our plays because we’ve struggled with that in the past. It felt great to get this win.”
Belding travels to Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian on Friday.