TRAVERSE CITY — Brooklyn Barber had only four points Friday.
But two of them were huge.
With Traverse City St. Francis clinging to a 29-25 lead over Elk Rapids — a lead that had shrunk from 14 points to four — the Gladiators ran a motion offense, taking over a minute and a half off the clock. That long play resulted in finding Barber all alone in the paint for an easy bucket and a much more comfortable 31-25 lead with 3:13 remaining.
St. Francis would hold on to win 39-30 to establish a one-game cushion in the Lake Michigan Conference standings.
“We were able to get someone open underneath the bucket,” Glads coach Mike Knudsen said. “That was a big play in the game.”
The Elks suffered their first LMC setback.
Julianna Phillips led the Gladiators with 12 points. Sarah Carney added nine points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 1:33 to go.
Megan Knudsen scored six points and had five steals and Anny Lyman dished out five assists.
“We started out very well,” Mike Knudsen said. “Defensively, we probably played some of the best basketball that we have all year. The first half, the girls were just outstanding defensively, which we were able to get some transition baskets and get a halftime lead.”
St. Francis (8-2, 5-0 LMC) led 23-10 at halftime.
“To keep that team to 10 points in a half is just a great effort by the girls,” Mike Knudsen said. “The whole team stood out defensively. We really focused all week on playing defense. And they did. I want to give Elk Rapids credit; they came out in the second half and got us out of rhythm and made a nice run in the third quarter to close the gap. In the fourth, the girls were able to settle down and get back on track and hold the lead.”