TRAVERSE CITY — After scoring only 18 points by halftime, Traverse City St. Francis girls basketball coach Mike Knudsen wasn’t happy.
By the end, he was.
The Gladiators stretched their lead to as many as 25 points in a 51-30 Lake Michigan Conference victory over Charlevoix to remain undefeated in conference play and atop the league standings.
“We started out very slow in the first half,” Knudsen said. “They played some good defense on us. Fortunately, in the second half we were able to get ourselves back together and we played a much better half. The fast break and the press was much more effective in the second half than it was in the first. We did a much better job on the boards and attacking the basket.”
The low-scoring first half didn’t hold in the second, as St. Francis scored almost twice as many points over the final 16 minutes as in the first half.
A 15-4 run to start the third quarter played a large role in that. Sarah Carney started things off with two quick baskets in the first minute.
The Glads (9-2, 6-0 LMC) led 8-1 after the first quarter, holding Charlevoix to just a Kourtney Putman free throw over the first eight minutes.
The Rayders (5-5, 3-3 LMC) closed out the first half with a 5-2 run to pull within nine at 18-9.
“I didn’t feel like we were patient in the half-court,” Charlevoix coach Liz Shaw said. “We would beat the front tier of the press and then turn the ball over. We’ve got a lot of young players, and it’s game experience and making good decisions. The big difference was our turnovers and rebounds. We didn’t do a very good job on the boards.”
Carney led St. Francis with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Suzanne Britten added nine points and five steals, Julianna Phillips had eight points and Anne Lyman seven points.
The game also marked the debut of Macy Schwert, a transfer from Traverse City West. The junior forward entered the game in the early fourth quarter, setting up Carney for two quick inside buckets and then scoring herself off a Carney pass for a 47-22 lead to match St. Francis’ largest lead of the game with 4:43 remaining.
Monday happened to be the first day she was eligible to play under transfer rules.
“When she got in, she did a nice job,” Knudsen said. “She got a couple quick assists and a basket. That was very helpful. The type of defense we run, it’s nice to have an extra player.”
The Rayders were led by 12 points and eight rebounds from junior Madeline Boss.
The Gladiators will try to remain unbeaten in LMC play Friday at Kalkaska, while Charlevoix travels to Boyne City.