TRAVERSE CITY — When Traverse City Central defeated Traverse City West in girls basketball in mid-January, West head coach Dave Ginsberg felt his team had hit rock bottom.
But since that loss — part of a 1-9 start for the Titans — they’re a much different team.
West finished the regular season by capturing its fifth straight win — and its seventh victory in the last nine games — in beating Central 36-22 on Senior Night at West High School.
Thursday’s victory was an entirely different feeling than the one Ginsberg had after the first matchup.
“We felt we stunk in that game that night,” Ginsberg said, reflecting back on the 24-21 loss. “I think we got to the depths of despair at Central that night. We were 1-9 and now we’re 8-11. We’ve lost against Manistee (by three points) and at Cadillac by one. We’ve done a good job. We’ve regained ourselves.”
Part of West’s turnaround can be attributed to being completely healthy. Kimmy Bilinski, who led the Titans with 12 points on Thursday, missed the first six games and Kiley Kreple, who has provided a shot in the arm offensively, defensively and from a leadership standpoint, missed seven straight games mid-season.
“I believe if those two would’ve played the whole season we would’ve won the league,” said Ginsberg. “I really believe that.”
West’s defense keyed Thursday’s victory as the Titans held the Trojans (4-16) to one point over a 12-minute stretch between the latter stages of the first quarter and the midpoint of the third quarter. In that time Central went from leading 8-5 to trailing 25-9. West’s performance was typical for what it has done this season, where it has allowed only 27 points per game.
“We moved our feet fast. We were practicing that,” said Bilinski, one of five seniors to be honored before the game. “We know they shoot and fake, and go drive, so we were practicing that and we got it down so we didn’t give them extra shots.”