GMG blocks Bears’ path in regionals
GARWIN — One last win at home to advance one round farther than a year ago.
That’s what the GMG girls’ basketball team got, but not without plenty of resistance.
The Wolverines led by as many as 12 points but needed a 10-0 scoring run to start the fourth quarter to stave off the BGM Bears for a 44-40 win in Tuesday’s Class 1A Region 7 quarterfinals.
Blaire Sonderleiter, one of four GMG seniors, scored a game-high 17 points to lead GMG to the regional semifinals for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The reward is a shot at top-ranked Springville (20-2), which walloped HLV 75-28 in its regional quarterfinal.
“Let’s go see what happens,” smiled GMG head coach Justin Hornberg. “What have you got to lose? You’ve got to go to Springville’s gym and you’ve got to play them. We’re one of the last 32 teams in Class 1A playing right now so it’s a step up from last year.
“We’ve got nothing to lose and they’ve got everything to lose. I’m just proud of my seniors, they played hard and won their last home game.”
It didn’t always come easy for the Wolverines (14-8), who failed to apply some of the lessons learned in a 66-56 victory against East Marshall in their regular-season finale. An impatient offense led to an abundance of turnovers (28) when simply dribbling or passing to exhaust the game clock would have sufficed, but BGM (8-15) simply didn’t have the firepower to take advantage.
Averaging just 35.1 points per game, the Bears came up empty on all of their 3-point attempts on this night but still managed to exceed their scoring average thanks to offensive rebounding. GMG, in spite of a decided height advantage, could not clean the glass when BGM put up a missed jumper from the outside.
Sure, GMG senior Josie Claassen finished with eight blocked shots and Sonderleiter had six more, but the Wolverines were handcuffing themselves on the boards. Second chances were the best part of BGM’s offense, but the Wolverines made enough of a run to create a cushion that withheld the Bears’ last comeback attempt.
“A lot of the problem was Josie going for blocks, which we know she does, but 75 percent of the time it’s her girl getting the offensive rebound,” Hornberg said. “It’s hard to sneak somebody inside there once she’s gone up for the block to get the rebound.”
Claassen’s season total of 83 blocks, by the way, ranks fourth in Class 1A.
GMG’s 11-point halftime lead, 26-15, dwindled to just three, 30-27, when BGM switched to a full-court man-to-man defense that created nine turnovers in the third quarter. The Bears outscored GMG 12-4 in the frame, but sophomore Madi Krull accounted for the last turnover of the third with the first bucket of the fourth. Krull’s 3-pointer kickstarted a 10-0 Wolverine rally that ballooned the lead back to double-digits, 40-27, at the midpoint of the period. Sonderleiter scored six-straight and Katie Airey added a free throw to the spurt.
The Wolverines did not score another field goal and held off the Bears despite shooting 7-for-15 from the free-throw line in the final frame.
“They really defended well and we had a tough time in the paint,” said BGM head coach Matt Smith. “There’s a reason those two girls [Sonderleiter and Claasen] are as good as they are and their zone was effective.”
Behind Sonderleiter’s game-high scoring output, the Wolverines were balanced. McKensie Vaske finished with seven points, Mable Dieleman and Airey had five, Zoe Duncan finished with four (all in the first quarter), and Krull and Kelsey Vaverka both made a 3-pointer.
Lyla Kriegel paced BGM with 15 points, Aimee Hochstetler had 12 and Kelsey Lint came off the bench for 10 points. The trio combined to score all but three points for the Bears.
GMG 44, BGM 40
BGM (8-15) — Maddie Jansen 0 0-0 0, Aimee Hochstetler 4 4-7 12, Lyla Kriegel 5 5-6 15, Hope Beck 0 0-1 0, Lizzy Worthington 0 1-2 1, Rachel Hawkins 0 0-0 0, Marian Coover 0 0-0 0, Molly Baldwin 0 0-0 0, Riley VanErsvelde 1 0-0 2, Dezi Manatt 0 0-0 0, Kelsey Lint 4 2-5 10, Rylie Gritsch 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 14 12-21 40.
GMG (14-8) — Blaire Sonderleiter 7 3-5 17, Mable Dieleman 1 3-6 5, Katie Airey 1 3-6 5, Zoe Duncan 2 0-1 4, Kelsey Vaverka 1 0-4 3, Madi Krull 1 0-0 3, McKensie Vaske 3 1-2 7, Josie Claassen 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 16 10-24 44.
BGM 9 6 12 13 — 40
GMG 15 11 4 14 — 44
3-Point Goals–GMG 2 (Krull, Vaverka). Total Fouls–BGM 20, GMG 21. Fouled Out–Vaske, Vaverka.