TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central’s girls basketball season tipped off Tuesday with a 69-32 loss to Midland.
And new head coach Heather Simpson says that’s not the worst thing.
“What I took from that is we have a team full of high-character kids,” Simpson said. “We’re going to have a great season. We really are. We’ve been working hard and we’re changing the way we do things. I think it was evident with our defense and not giving up. Midland is a good team. Jess Walter, she’s a fantastic player. But, at the same time, we’re OK with that. The effort was there. We missed some key shots — and those will fall. I can’t ask for a better effort from our kids.”
Midland — which was 13-8 last year and has much of its team back along with an influx of quality freshmen to bolster Indiana-bound Jessica Walter — looks like a team that could be a Class A power this season.
The Chemics led 18-4 late in the first quarter and never looked back. That didn’t deter Simpson.
“It was a good start,” Simpson said. “With the score, people will probably wonder, ‘What is she talking about?’ But for us, we accomplished our goals — and that was to compete, to work hard and have a good team attitude. We’re going to be OK.”
Central scored six straight points to pull within 25-14 early in the second quarter, but Midland pulled away from there, putting on an 11-0 spurt as its defense applied heavy pressure.
“All I ask my kids is to give their heart out there and to dive for loose balls,” Simpson said. “And to still do that when you’re down by 40, says a lot. It really does. When you can do it when you’re down 40, it’s going to be pretty easy to do it when you’re down by two or up by six.”
Walter scored 15 by the time the Chemics led 38-16 at halftime and finished with 28.
“She has been sitting out quite a lot,” Midland coach Elaine Mahabir said. “She’s had a rolled ankle the last few months. So she hasn’t gone a ton at game speed, so she was frustrated with her shots not falling and had to focus more on layups. Nobody else in the gym noticed that. They thought she was a dynamic player, but for her, that’s a sub-par performance in her mind.”
Sophomore center Sierra Fraser led Central with eight points, while Callie Bartkowiak had seven and sophomore forward Jennifer Rose six.
“Traverse City finished well around the basket,” Mahabir said. “Their bigs hit a few pull-up jumpers over the top of us. They worked hard on every bucket and didn’t stop playing, which you can appreciate in a 40-point loss. They kept coming at us, and I think that says a lot about what Heather is trying to build here. Once they get their first couple wins, I think they’ll really realize how much potential they have.”
Walter finished with 28, with freshman Jayden Williams scoring 16 and Emily Resmer adding 10.
Midland won the JV game 61-23 as Kelly Marsh, Riley Hazen and Zoe Stirn each scored eight points. Central was led by Jessica Budz and Montanna Brumfield with eight points apiece.