2009-12-27 / Sports

FEARLESS

Bluestars lay it all on the line in win over N. Huron
BY CHRIS OGRYSKI EDITOR

PORT HOPE - Allyson Koglin shoots over North Huron’s Ashley Case and Sara Clancy. PORT HOPE - Allyson Koglin shoots over North Huron’s Ashley Case and Sara Clancy. PORT HOPE – Their offense got them the early lead, but it was their defense that made it hold up.

Port Hope coach Don Pitts has said that so far this season, his team has put up points early, which seems to carry throughout the game. While that was the case on Monday against North Huron (the Bluestars led 11-2 after the first), it was the defense that set the tone in their 46-33 win over the Warriors.

“Defensively, I thought we were outstanding for most of the night,” Pitts said. “We had some lapses and you’re going to throughout the night.”

Those lapses were few and far between against North Huron, as Port Hope held the Warriors to a single score in the first quarter. North Huron was held scoreless for the next 9 1/2 minutes until Caitlyn Homrich scored two of her six points on a pair of free throws.

PORT HOPE - Ashley Case fights with Allyson Koglin and Kayla Gust for a rebound. PORT HOPE - Ashley Case fights with Allyson Koglin and Kayla Gust for a rebound. “Right now we’re not executing offensively at all,” Warriors coach Mark Krug said.

“We are forcing shots that are not there, we’re not being patient like we were (earlier in the season), but again, the competition is different,” he added.

Port Hope extended their lead to 11 at the half (21-10) and Pitts explained there is a definite advantage to grabbing the early lead. “A lot of games we’re jumping out quick and getting nice leads. That is helping us get comfortable and relaxed and try new things,” he said.

But it wasn’t all a bed of roses for the Bluestars, as post players Allyson Koglin and Kristen Smaglinski were in early foul trouble. “That hurt, but luckily I have a third player (Kayla Gust), my point guard, who is as tall and as physical as Allyson and Kristen,” he said.

Coach Don Pitts talks strategy during a fourth quarter timeout. Coach Don Pitts talks strategy during a fourth quarter timeout. “So I switched Gust on her (Clancy) to buy some time and I never had to switch out of it when I could have,” Pitts explained.

Clancy, who just a week earlier scored 15 against Caseville, was held to 10 against Port Hope and was of a factor in the game. “The success KG had (defensively) was because of Allyson and Kristen dropping down and double teaming off of their girl,” Pitts said.

“I didn’t think we played terribly offensively, we just aren’t executing offensively right now,” Krug added. “They did a real nice job containing Sara, but she was also doing things and rushing shots that she normally doesn’t do.”

While Koglin made her presence felt on offense, she was even a bigger contributor on offense, as she scored a game-high 27 points against North Huron. “When she catches the ball, she gathers herself and gets a good shot,” said Pitts. “When she is within five feet, I want her shooting the ball every time.”

Port Hope’s Allyson Koglin Port Hope’s Allyson Koglin While Port Hope’s offense was in sync for most of the night, Pitts was a little nervous during a three minute stretch in the fourth, where the Warriors cut a 19 point deficit (37-18) to 15 (40-25) and had seemed to be finding more of a groove offensively. “We struggled for about three minutes, until we got to a point where I felt comfortable with running some clock,” Pitts explained. “Those three minutes, I was getting a little nervous, because we weren’t exactly putting the ball in the hole every time.

“We did end up getting a big hoop when we needed it, but it seemed that those three minutes were a struggle.”

Brittany Schave, Sara Clancy Brittany Schave, Sara Clancy Despite a few tense moments in the final quarter, Port Hope held on for the 13 point win, which Pitts felt was huge for his team. “It is huge as far as a confidence booster and helping us to realize we are good,” he explained.

“Will we get beat again? There is very good chance we could. We have to play them again and Memphis again and Kingston twice, so…

“(But) it is a win and every time we get a win that puts us one step closer to what our goal is (a league title).

“We’ve got wiggle room now, but we don’t want to give up that wiggle room.”

While the Bluestars are rolling after their victory, which put them one game ahead of North Huron in the North Central Thumb League North standings, the Warriors are reeling after back-to-back losses.

Last week’s 51-40 loss to Memphis was a particularly disappointing effort for the team, who were 16-of-58 from the field in their loss.

In looking for a positive from that game, Krug looked at how despite their poor play, the Yellow Jackets were never able to pull away. “You have Sara Clancy sitting on the bench for two quarters, you miss six lay-ups and six put backs, you have a less than 22 percent shooting night and 29 turnovers, yet you lost by the points you gave up in the first quarter,” he explained.

Krug hopes some tough competition in the Bad Axe Holiday Tournament this Tuesday and Wednesday will be just what the doctored ordered for his team.

“The biggest thing is, we need to get some confidence back in ourselves and we have to get back to doing the little things that we know work. The competition has been tough the last two games, but we should still be able to execute,” he said.

“I think (at this point) it is good we have a little break. I don’t think they are quitters at all and I think they will refocus,” Krug said.

As for Port Hope, they host Ubly on Tuesday and Pitts is hoping it will be a battle. “I knew I wanted a game over the break and I wanted team to come in that is going to give us fits,” he said.

“I hope they give us fits and I hope we have to battle for the win, because that is only going to help us in games like this (in the future).”

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