BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — Petoskey solidified its shot at earning a share of the Big North Conference girls basketball title Thursday with a 36-16 victory at Traverse City West.
Petoskey is tied in the loss column with Cadillac with just two home league contests remaining.
After a low-scoring first half in which West struggled mightily from the field — the only Titan bucket was on a short baseline jumper by Lauren Ellison — the Northmen led 13-5.
"Traverse City West was really looking to control the tempo," Petoskey coach Adam Dobrowolski said. "There were times where we were settling for shots instead of being a little more patient. So we were playing defense for 30 seconds or a minute at a time and we were taking shots in 10 or 15 or 20 seconds and not getting the shot we were looking for. In the second half, we were much more patient. We worked the ball and found the high post quite a bit and we were able to find the back side because of that."
The Northmen (15-2, 9-1 Big North) were held scoreless for the first five-plus minutes of the second half as well before putting up 23 points in the game's final 11 minutes to put it away.
"We're really happy with how our kids stuck together and stayed with it when the game was tight," Dobrowolski said.
West (6-10, 6-3 BNC) was 1-for-17 from the field in the first half, and finished 4-for-30.
"We played terrific defense and battled," Titans coach Dave Ginsberg said. "We missed 10 to 15 shots we should have made.
"They're used to scoring in the 50s and 60s. They scored 36 and we gave them 10 points."
The Northmen, meanwhile, knocked down 16 of 38 shots to notch their second win this season over West.
And that was with top players Kelsey Ance and Megan Tompkins sitting for stretches with foul trouble.
"We had quite a few players with three fouls and we really had to manage our lineup," Dobrowolski said. "At one time in the second half, we had Megan with three, Kelsey Ance had three, Katie Lewis and Amanda Stinger had three. Alyssa VanWerden, I can't say enough about how she played. She was on Katie Placek all night whenever Katie was in the game."
Liz Fraser also played almost the entire game and stepped up defensively, adding four points.
Placek was held to four points and seven rebounds.
Ance led Petoskey with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Tompkins added nine points and eight boards and VanWerden pitched in six points and five rebounds. Tompkins and Ance scored all 11 of Petoskey's fourth-quarter points, led by Tompkins' eight.
The Northmen have two BNC contests remaining, hosting Ogemaw Heights and Alpena, a pair of teams they've already beaten once this season.
West won the JV game 27-17, led by seven points and seven rebounds from Erica Whiting and seven points by Jodi Turnquist.
The Titans claimed the freshman game 33-17 as Makenna Mattson scored 11 points.