BELLAIRE — It’s a two-team race in Ski Valley Conference girls basketball, and on Thursday things got a lot tighter.
With two league games left to play, Bellaire moved into a tie for first with Gaylord St. Mary as the Eagles handed the Snowbirds their first conference loss of the season, 38-31, at Bellaire High School.
Bellaire (16-2, 13-1) overcame a slow start, then surged past St. Mary early in the second half when it held the Snowbirds scoreless for the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter.
“I’m really excited,” said Bellaire junior guard Leighten Koepke, who led all scorers with 15 points. “We came to play. They’re a really good team and it’s just a great feeling. We were really confident. The first game we played well, but our shots weren’t falling.”
The Eagles’ shots weren’t falling at the start of Thursday’s rematch, but their defense was tough all night. Bellaire was especially tough in containing St. Mary’s leading scorer Kari Borowiak, who still led St. Mary (16-2, 13-1) with 10 points, but half of that total came in the last five minutes and the Snowbirds scrambling to get back into the game.
“Her range is when she walks in the door and she made it interesting like Kari does,” said Bellaire coach Brad Fischer. “You never can completely stop her, you just try to slow her a little bit and tonight we were able to do that.”
Bellaire trailed 9-4 at the end of the first period and faced their largest deficit of the night early in the second, 13-4. But the Eagles started attacking the basket and it allowed them to score and quickly get back into the game.
“Our shots weren’t falling all that well so we drove and they couldn’t stop us,” said Koepke, who created several opportunities with her drives to the hoop.