Lake Fenton — It looked like the Linden varsity girls basketball team had weathered the storm and were about ready to compete with the Blue Devils Tuesday.
Lake Fenton’s press and uptempo play had an adverse impact on the Eagles during the first 12 minutes of the contest. The result was a 23-7 Lake Fenton lead after a layup by Katelyn Siebert with 4:14 left in the half.
However, Linden started making a run, and got back into the game. The run started with a Delanie Prince hoop, followed by a three-pointer by Jordan Peterson. About a minute later, a diving layup by Alexcis Parker cut the Lake Fenton lead to just 23-14. Suddenly, it looked like the Eagles had survived the storm and were steadily getting back into the contest.
However, that’s when the Blue Devils turned up the heat again. Lake Fenton’s pressing defense forced the Eagles into seven turnovers during the final three minutes of the first half, sparking the Blue Devils’ 12-2 run. Suddenly, the Blue Devils were completely back in command, leading 35-16 at the break. Lake Fenton never lost control of the game again, eventually winning a 69-26 verdict against the Eagles.
“It was the moment of the game,” Lake Fenton varsity girls basketball coach Brian VanBuren said. “Even with us having a little bit of a lead, it was a competitive game. There was a point we were blowing it open, but they got back into it and there was work to be done. ... That pace right before the half changed things. Suddenly, bang, bang and we are up by 19. We came out of the locker room up 19 and we were able to just play basketball. We were relaxed.”
“We made a little run ourselves but then they made a run and it was more than our run,” Linden varsity girls basketball coach Zack Darling said. “It was tough sledding from there. They played very aggressive. I give a lot of credit to Lake Fenton’s defense. They made it tough to get shots up. And when we did get shots up, usually it was one and done. They were a good rebounding team as well.”
The Blue Devils were completely stifling overall. Defensively, their press forced 35 Linden turnovers with 21 coming off of Lake Fenton steals. Those steals resulted in 21 more shots from the field with a lot of those hoops coming on easier breaking buckets. And everyone got involved for the Blue Devils. Nine players scored with eight of the players collecting at least two steals. Aubrey Fray was one of the Blue Devils strongest players. The junior scored 15 points, with 13 of them coming in the first half. She also had four steals, dished three assists and collected three rebounds.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Fray said about the Blue Devils’ style of play. “Everybody gets so excited and we are all so hyped the whole game.”
Linden led for a large chunk of the first quarter. A three-pointer by Parker gave the Eagles a 5-3 lead with 4:10 left in the first quarter. Lake Fenton missed its first nine shots of the opening quarter but then wrapped up the period with 5-of-12 shooting the rest of the way. Fray and Kerrigan Howdeshell each had two field goals during the second half of the first quarter, enabling the Blue Devils to take a 16-5 lead entering the second quarter.
Linden trailed 16-7 after an inside hoop by Delanie Prince, but then the Blue Devils went on a 7-0 run. It started with a Sydney Hammis three-pointer, followed by buckets from Fray and Siebert. Lake Fenton led 23-7.
Right after that, the Eagles had their final first-half run only to see the Blue Devils end the second quarter with a 12-2 run.
Any chance of a Linden comeback happening in the second half, Lake Fenton’s press made sure it didn’t happen. Linden turned the ball over seven of its first eight offensive possessions in the third quarter while the Blue Devils scored the second half’s first 17 points. Morgan Furey played a huge role in that run, scoring nine third-quarter points.
Howdeshell came off the bench to lead Lake Fenton with 16 points. She also had four rebounds and three steals. Fray had her 15 points while Furey finished with 10 points and two steals. Siebert finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two steals while Christina Lamb came off the bench and had seven points, two steals and two rebounds. Sydney Hammis had six points and two steals.
“We played good as a team and we passed the ball and shared the ball really well,” Fray said. “It was a good night.”
Parker led Linden with 12 points and 11 rebounds while Prince had six points and four rebounds. Paige Leedle chipped in six rebounds.
“We are excited to get back to practice because we have to keep working,” Darling said.