It was like trying to solve a riddle during the first five minutes of the game Friday night for the Northville girls basketball team.
The host Mustangs were still looking for their first field goal when sophomore guard Jessica Moorman finally ended the stalemate with a steal and a layup to make the score 4-2.
Walled Lake Central’s match-up zone defense created problems to start, but by the end of the third quarter the riddle had been solved as Northville pulled away from a 21-10 halftime lead with a 17-1 third-quarter run and cruised to a 52-19 victory.
“That’s typically what Central does,” Northville coach Todd Gudith said of the zone. “Rob (Schopf) (Central’s coach) took a few years off, but now he’s back, so they’re running the same stuff he’s always run. And he gets his kids to run it well. And it just took us awhile to get going. We had a lot of shots at the rim, just didn’t make them early in the first quarter.”
The Mustangs, who shot only 8-of-28 the opening half (28.5 percent), needed to swing the ball around a little more and resulted in a 31-point second half.
“That’s what we talked about, especially at halftime,” Gudith said. “We adjusted to it (the zone) a little bit. We said, ‘Hey, we got to make them run a little bit side-to-side and cover more space than we they’re doing.’ I thought we caught and held the ball too much. But the extra pass really made the difference in the third quarter.”
Many the Mustangs’ baskets came off steals.
Senior center Emily Maresh paced Northville (2-0) with 15 points, while Moorman added 14. Freshman guard Kendall Dillon contributed 10, including a pair of triples.
“I thought our transition was really good in the second half.” said Gudith, whose team made 21-of-60 shots from the floor (35 percent) on the night. ” I think that’s what really made the difference and helped us break the game open because it was pretty stagnant in the first half. We’re starting to get kids healthy. We had a couple of kids out sick, so we need to have a full 10.”
Central, which slipped to 0-3, had a rough shooting night making only 6-of-34 (17.6 percent) as Kaitlyn Wolschalger was the Vikings’ top scorer with nine points.
“We have four sophomores and a freshman in our top 10,” said Schopf, who returned this season after being the Vikings’ varsity coach from 1999-2011 “We are running a new system with the kids and it might as well be a foreign language to them. One of the points we’re stressing is to compete. We’re having a hard time with skill level being equal to these other teams, but if we feel like we can get the kids to compete for 32 minutes, that’s a building block to get the program back going in the right direction.”
And 29 turnovers didn’t help Central’s cause either.
“Obviously taking care of the ball is an issue right now as is putting the ball in the basket,” Schopf said. “We’re trying to get the kids in the right spots, and once we get them in the right spots, we’re trying to get them to perform on how they’re supposed to. It’s a process and we’re trying to lay a foundation.”