By JAMES COOK email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City St. Francis tipped off the season with not only a tournament victory, but an unusually early league contest as well.
The Gladiators held about a 2-to-1 advantage most of the way en route to a 47-23 win over Harbor Springs in the Katie Heintz Tip Off Tournament.
After Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s had to pull out of the tourney, Harbor Springs filled in and the Glads and Rams decided to make it a Lake Michigan Conference contest as well, canceling a St. Francis home date later in the season.
“It’s always good to start with a win,” St. Francis coach Mike Knudsen said. “Not only was this a win for us in the Katie Heintz tournament, it was a conference game for us this year.”
The tournament’s opening round was moved to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Middle School while St. Francis’ new gym floor surface finishes curing. Wednesday’s final round is slated to be held at St. Francis, starting with Bear Lake against the Gladiators in the junior varsity consolation game at 3 p.m. and Harbor Springs against Glen Lake in the JV title game at 4:30 p.m.
Harbor Springs will face Glen Lake in the varsity consolation at 6 p.m., with the Glads taking on Bear Lake in the championship contest.
The Gladiators (1-0, 1-0 LMC) sprinted out to the top of the Lake Michigan race a little earlier than normal.
The Glads started a lineup with one senior, one junior, one sophomore and two freshmen.
“We are young this year,” Knudsen said. “We lost five seniors last year, so we’ve got a couple freshmen, a few sophomores. We only have one senior. Overall, I was very happy with how we played.”
Still, St. Francis led 12-8 after the first quarter in which Harbor Springs — which has six seniors — pressed often.
“The girls held it together there,” Knudsen said. “We had a couple moments where being young and being the beginning of the season showed, but I think in the end it will work out well.”
The Glads extended that lead to 28-10 by halftime as Megan Knudsen scored the quarter’s first six points and Anne Lyman added four more.
“At times, I liked our defense and our rebounding,” Knudsen said of a 36-24 advantage on the boards. “At other times, we know some things we need to work on in practice.”
In the second half, the Glads turned to freshman Sarah Carney in the post, and she responded with 10 of her game-high 14 points over that span.
Carney and fellow freshman Juliana Phillips will face a tough task in Bear Lake’s imposing inside duo of Emileigh Ferguson and Hannah Harrington.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” Mike Knudsen said. “They’ve got a couple of pretty tough post players who like to be physical down underneath and they press the whole game, so I’m looking forward to seeing how our team handles that.”
Harbor was led by four points each from Morgan Reeves and Perry Bower.
Bear Lake beat Glen Lake 53-48 in the opener after building a 34-18 lead at half.
“We adjusted, we settled down in the second half,” Glen Lake coach Jason Bradford said. “Hopefully, we got the bugs worked out.”
Glen Lake pulled to within three in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Peplinski’s 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists paced Glen Lake. Maddy Brown added 11 points and seven rebounds, McKenna Turrill eight points and seven rebounds and Jessica Lee eight points and five rebounds.
Bear Lake was paced by Ferguson (23 points) and Harrington (14 points), while McKaya Groenwald and McKenna Fink each had six.
In the junior varsity games, Harbor Springs knocked off St. Francis 50-25. Claire Fleming and Mikayla Dickinson each scored 12 for Harbor Springs. For St. Francis, Gigi Ward and Colleen LaBonte each tallied seven points.
In the other tournament opener, Glen Lake defeated Bear Lake 24-14. Nichole Cox led Glen Lake with eight points and Casey Moore added seven. Bear Lake’s Katelyn Pruyne led all scorers with nine points.