GRAND LEDGE – This offseason was a new experience for Portland senior guard Olivia Roe.
With a large number of players returning from last year’s team, which finished second in the CAAC White, the Raiders’ girls basketball team got to work early this summer in hopes of taking its play to new heights.
So far, so good.
Behind a game-high 25 points and five assists from Roe, Portland defeated Grand Ledge, 54-45, in Tuesday’s season opener.
“We were just trying to get faster and stronger,” said Roe, who earned Class B all-state honors last season. “We were in the weight room since July, we had speed training coming in … we knew we had to get faster and stronger.
“We all pushed each other.”
The contest was a rematch of last year’s season opener, a game the Comets won by three in overtime. A year later, Raider junior Jorie Rutkowski still remembers the feeling following the game. And as Grand Ledge made a run in the final minutes Tuesday, cutting Portland’s lead from 11 to four after a 7-0 run, thoughts of last season started to resurface.
However, they quickly vanished after the Raiders countered with a 7-2 spurt to close the game.
“We didn’t want that to happen again, at all,” said Rutkowski, who scored six of her eight points in the second half. “It motivated all of us. We never said it (during the game), but we didn’t want that to happen again.”
After the two teams went back and forth in the first quarter, Portland broke the game open in the second. A basket by senior Hannah Trierweiler, which gave the Raiders an 11-9 lead, fueled a 13-4 run to start the quarter.
Grand Ledge was able to stay in striking distance for most of the night thanks to solid play from freshmen Courtney Sharland and Makenzie Todd. Sharland, who is 6-foot-2, scored six of her team-high 15 points as the Comets made their late push. Todd, a guard, added 10 points in her varsity debut.
“We know that we’re building toward something, and we’re trying to get our new players involved,” said Grand Ledge coach Dave Jones, whose team shared the CAAC Blue title last year. “If we can get everyone on the same page, then we think we can go out and be a pretty good team down the road. And that’s what we hope for.”
Portland senior Chloe Adams scored eight points and hauled in three rebounds.
Brooke Rambo added seven points for Grand Ledge.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.