On Dec. 12, DeWitt watched as Grand Ledge came into its gym and handed the Panthers their first loss of the season.
On Tuesday night, it was DeWitt’s turn to do the same to Eaton Rapids.
The Panthers held the Greyhounds to just 12 points in the first half and used their full-court press to force Eaton Rapids into mistakes and a hurried pace in a 45-30 nonleague victory.
“What a difference a week makes. We were pretty down in the dumps last Tuesday and we’ve had two big wins to kind of bounce back,” DeWitt coach Bill McCullen said. “We were embarrassed on our court. Grand Ledge took it to us, especially in the second half, and so we wanted to see how the kids would respond.”
The Panthers (5-1) were coming off a 72-67 overtime win over Haslett last Friday.
“It’s probably a good thing that we had such a big league rivalry game on Friday,” McCullen said. “There was no time to feel sorry for yourself. We had to get focused right away and won a big one there and the kids came in here with a lot of confidence tonight. But I was really proud of their defense.”
Junior forward Hannah Stoll, junior forward Alexis Banaszak and senior center Kaylee Schmitt all had eight points to lead a balanced DeWitt attack.
Three other players scored seven points apiece.
McCullen said after the Grand Ledge loss that the Panther full-court pressure needed serious work . The press was a weapon on Tuesday, often forcing turnovers or, at least, causing the Greyhounds (5-1) to work hard just to set up into their half-court offense.
“We got away from what we should be doing to break the press,” Eaton Rapids coach Willis Whitmyer said. “They got us to turn our backs and flip the ball a little bit and that was way more turnovers than we need to have against any team.
“Give credit to them. (McCullen) does a nice job with the press and it rattled a few of our girls.”
“We love to pressure and that forced them to make some bad decisions and definitely our team as a whole just working together helped us for the win,” Stoll said.
In addition to her scoring, Schmitt also shut down Eaton Rapids junior center Allie Dittmer, who was held without a field goal.
“Defensively Kaylee Schmitt was very good inside,” McCullen said. “I think that Dittmer may be the best post player in the area offensively. She’s hard to stop.
“She just has so many different moves and I thought Kaylee did a nice job down there, but the other kids did their part too out front in creating pressure and just making it tough to get it inside.”
DeWitt led by 11 at halftime. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Claudia Reid with 2:30 to play in the third quarter bumped the lead to 14. Then the Panthers started the third quarter on an 11-6 run to put the game out of reach.
Junior Bailey Baker led Eaton Rapids with 10 points.