MARSHALL – Harper Creek and Pennfield kicked off the Michigan High School Athletic Association girls basketball playoffs on Monday with a Class B district quarterfinal contest at Marshall High School.
Though the Beavers had beaten the Panthers twice during the regular season, the first half of this postseason battle had Harper Creek fans feeling nervous.
After falling behind for the majority of the first half, though, the Beavers eventually pulled ahead and outlasted the Panthers by a score of 56-44.
“We had already played Pennfield twice this year, so beating a team three times in a row is not easy, especially a team as athletic as them,” Harper Creek head coach Terri Tchorzynski said. “The way it started, it was a battle back and forth, so we had to clean some stuff up.”
In the first quarter, Pennfield’s Jessica Roan exploded for 12 points to lead the Panthers to a 15-13 advantage. Roan would end the night with a game-high 18 points.
After being down by as many as five points, Harper Creek’s Jacey Bowers handed her team its first lead of the night midway through the second quarter.
The score went back and forth in the minutes leading up to halftime, which included a 3-pointer from Harper Creek’s Macy Hancock and a 3-point-play from Pennfield’s Brooke Lenz, but it was the Beavers who found themselves on top 28-26 at the halftime break.
“In the first half, I thought we did a really good job as far as our effort and our energy, and we anticipated really well on defense and so we were able to get some easy transition points,” said Pennfield coach Dic Doumanian. “We were really aggressive offensively as far as attacking the basket, and we didn’t do that in the third quarter for whatever reason.”
The second half was all Harper Creek, as it outscored Pennfield 21-7 in the third quarter, and then coasted to its 56-44 victory to advance to the next round of postseason play.
“Looking at our shot chart, we had missed so many shots inside (in the first half), and that was against a zone defense, so we just said we’ve got to finish shots and not get beat back,” explained Tchorzynski. “I think in the second half, we held them to 17 points, so our defense stepped up and that helped us out.”
Olivia Leson led the Beavers with 16 points, while Charley Andrews scored 12 points and Hancock had seven.
With the loss, Pennfield’s season comes to an end with a 9-12 overall record.
“Number one, this is a terrific bunch of young ladies,” Doumanian said of this year’s squad. “We’re really young, and that’s not an excuse, but I think that showed at times. I hate losing those three seniors, because they are quality, quality people and they work their butts off, and we’re gonna miss them a lot. We’ve got a lot of people coming back, so hopefully this experience will motivate us…and we’ll be ready next year to be even better.”
Harper Creek now advances to Wednesday’s district semifinals, where it will take on the Parchment Panthers.
“We know that [Parchment] is a good team,” Tchorzynkski said. “But if we play to our potential, I really feel like we can play with a lot of teams, so it’s just a matter of bringing our game and playing to our potential all four quarters.”
Travis Tekiele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0677. Follow him on Twitter: @travis_tekiele