SAULT STE. MARIE — Sault High won its sixth straight game, downing Rudyard 58-32 in a Straits Area Conference girls basketball matchup Thursday night.
Claire Erickson scored 19 points and Mackenzie Bell added 15 points for the Blue Devils (10-3 overall, 3-1 SAC), who are tied for the conference lead.
“I thought we came out and played extremely well on the defensive end, holding them to 11 at the half,” Sault High coach Pat Bennin said. “We executed on offense for the most part even though it did get sloppy in the third quarter. Then we responded and played well in the fourth. Claire had a nice all-around game, both offensively and defensively.”
Sault High led 18-9 through the opening quarter and outscored the Bulldogs 15-2 in the second stanza. The Blue Devils led 33-11 at the half and didn’t let the Bulldogs back within single digits.
Brooklynn Besteman led the way with 11 points, while Emily Kopitz and Tristin Smith added eight points apiece for Rudyard (4-4 overall, 2-2 SAC).
“We were forcing up shots and just didn’t play well in the first half,” Rudyard coach Carlos Molina said. “We missed layups, turned it over…those are things that have been hurting us all year. We missed way too many free throws again, and that didn’t help. If we make a decent percentage of free throws, maybe we don’t dig ourselves as big of a hole to climb out of.
“We did pull it together and play better in the second half. But playing one half of basketball is not enough.”
Both teams scored seven points in the third quarter, giving the Sault a 40-18 lead to take into the fourth. The Blue Devils went on to cap the win.
The Bulldogs got to the free throw line often, but finished 11-of-31 from the line in the game.
“We have to learn to play better defense without fouling,” Bennin said. “That was one thing we can do better. Overall our defense was good, but I didn’t like giving up 31 free throws.”
The rest of the scoring was spread out for Sault High, as nine points contributed points. Hannah Eavou led players off the bench with six points.
The Blue Devils avenged one of their early season losses, beating a Bulldogs team which won 55-53 back on Dec. 10.
“Rudyard is a physical athletic team, so it was a good challenge for us,” Bennin said. “We won a conference game that we needed against a team that beat us by two the first time around. We came back and beat them by 26 so that’s a good turnaround.
“We’re trending in the right direction, but we still haven’t played our best basketball yet. There is still room to get better. If we can correct a few more things, hopefully we’ll be ready to play our best come March.”
Sault High visits Newberry in a make-up game this Monday. Rudyard visits Oscoda on Monday.
Rudyard 9 2 7 14 — 32
Sault 18 15 7 18 — 58
Rudyard — Bullman 3, Kopitz 8, Smith 8, Mayer 2, Besteman 11. FT: 11-31; F: 15; 3-point field goals: 3 (Besteman 2, Bullman 1)
Sault — Bell 15, Nolan 5, Marchand 2, Pratt 1, Innerebner 4, Maurer 4, Erickson 19, Smith 2, Eavou 6. FT: 14-21; F: 21; 3-point field goals: 2 (Bell 1, Nolan 1).
Contact Sports Editor Rob Roos at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rroosTEN.
This article originally appeared on The Sault News: Sault girls down Rudyard for 6th straight win