Houghton girls shake rough start, beat Braves

HOUGHTON – Trailing by an 11-0 score after just four minutes of their Saturday afternoon game against Gladstone, the Houghton Gremlins found themselves in unfamiliar territory.

But the Orange and Black were able to make the necessary corrections to secure a 66-58 girls non-conference basketball victory.

“I told the girls that they (Braves) had made their first four shots, and we had to answer back with something strong,” HHS coach Julie Filpus said. “That’s where we’re at with this team, they’re still finding themselves.”

Coach Karl Dollhopf’s Braves acquitted themselves very well in the opening half – leading by a 37-36 score.

“It was a tough, competitive game,” Dollhopf said. “I was just proud of how the girls competed. We knew what we were going to get in Houghton, they’re good team.”

Filpus said an opening 16-4 spurt to begin the third quarter was big for her team.

“Thirty-seven points in one half is far too much to give up,” the HHS skipper said. “In the second half, we played better defense and rebounded much better.”

Gremlins’ standout Elisa Jurmu and Sydney Dillinger led the better effort on the boards. Jurmu was double-teamed much of the game, but still managed a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. Dillinger grabbed nine boards.

“Our team knows who she (Jurmu) is,” Dollhopf commented. “She’s a tremendous player … she did a nice job of kicking the ball out on those double teams. She’s a dandy player.”

After racing to a 52-41 lead with their aforementioned third quarter run, Houghton had to withstand several rallies by the Anna Wulf-led Braves.

GHS creeped to within 61-58 by quarter’s end and stayed within striking distance in the final eight minutes. Spotty free throw shooting by HHS (5-of-14) also kept it close.

“We normally shoot free throws in the upper 60’s percentage-wise,” Filpus said. “When you go into a stall late in the fourth quarter, there’s no excuse, those free throws have to fall.”

Ashlyn Kero followed Jurmu in the scoring column with 17 markers and did a nice job at the point. Kelsie Richards tossed in 11 more, while Noelle Polakowski managed eight more and hit a big triple late in the contest.

“Noelle has been struggling behind the arc lately,” Filpus said. “She had a couple (triples) today that were huge for us.”

The 2-3 Braves were paced by Wulff with 15 points. Alex St. Cyr had nine points, while Lexi Hongisto, Christine Sharon and Callie Jensen chipped in eight apiece, the latter also hauling down 10 boards.

The Gremlins will travel to Lake Linden-Hubbell on Friday.