Port Huron Northern sophomore Jenna Koppinger claps hands with teammates on the bench during a basketball game Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Marysville High School.
A stat sheet doesn’t tell the complete story of a game, but in Marysville’s gym on Friday night it nearly did.
The Port Huron Northern girls basketball team ended its night forcing the Vikings into 23 turnovers. The Huskies? They only turned the ball over four times on the night.
With their offensive discipline and defensive mayhem, the Huskies cruised to a 56-31 victory in their first game of the season.
“That (turnover) number does seem a little high, but that’s a testament to our defense and how hard we’ve worked,” senior guard Becca Richards said.
Richards was pouring out effort on the offensive end, leading all scorers with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field.
Fellow senior Riley Fealko also gave the Huskies a boost with her 11 points, and senior Caitlyn Gillespie added nine points on perfect 4-of-4 field shooting.
For the Vikings it was junior forward Payton Husson giving her team the most points with 13 on the night.
The first quarter was certainly a bright spot for Marysville, which held Northern to just 3-of-12 shooting from the field.
It also helped that Husson used her height to fill up the basket for six points on 3-of-3 shooting. The Vikings defense combined with the contribution in the paint gave Marysville a 13-9 edge after eight minutes.
However, the mojo quickly left Marysville’s bench and sat comfortably on Northern’s in the second quarter. As a matter of fact, the Vikings only scored 18 points the rest of the night.
“We played better defense and tightened up a little bit,” Northern head coach Mark Dickinson said. “We let up some pick-and-rolls early so we switched to half court (defense) just to settle down a little bit.”
To start the second quarter, Northern senior Caitlyn Gillespie drove to the hoop for an old fashioned 3-point play to start the quarter, closing the gap to 12-13. That was just the beginning of a smattering of points, as Richards scored six points in a 10-0 run that gave the Huskies a 19-13 lead.
During that run the Huskies defense forced six turnovers and held the Vikings scoreless for the first 3:48 — when Husson hit a pair of free throws to bring it to a 19-15 Northern lead.
Fealko also hit layup late in the half to boost Northern to a 25-16 lead. Richards iced the cake with four seconds left in the half when she buried a 3-pointer to send the game to halftime with a 31-19 lead.
That long-ball also had Richards sitting in the locker room with 15 points.
Fealko and Richards teamed up midway through the third quarter to lengthen the Huskies’ lead. With Fealko snatching up turnover No. 16 she went to the other end and missed the layup, only to have Richards take the rebound and put in the bucket for a 39-21 lead.
The game truly got out of hand with 2:08 remaining in the third, as junior Kiana Votava intercepted a pass and strolled down the court for an easy layup and a mountainous 45-24 lead.
The fourth quarter was sluggish for the most part, with both teams combining for just five points in the first four minutes.
Northern sophomore Jenna Koppinger drained a 3-pointer to give her team a 52-29 lead with just over three minutes remaining.
The final attention-grabbing moment came with just under two minutes left on the clock. Sophomore Kendyl Keyes scored a layup, but wasn’t satisfied with just that as she stormed down the court to serve up a stuffing-style block.
Not long after the final buzzer sounded, beaming the 56-31 final score.
“We can finish around the basket better and we had some defensive breakdowns, but it was the first game,” Dickinson said. “I thought holding them to 31 is a good accomplishment for our kids.”
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.