SSC girls fall short against Falcons
STANDISH-STERLING — Ogemaw Heights made the plays it needed to down the stretch of Friday's girls basketball contest at Standish-Sterling, outscoring the Panthers 6-0 in the final two minutes to earn a 45-42 victory on SSC's home floor.
It was just the second time since 1995 and the first time this decade that the Falcons have beaten the Panthers.
"I think we were probably 1-35 against them coming into this game," said Ogemaw coach Tim Hansen. "Both teams played hard, both teams played tough.
"It wasn't the prettiest game, but you've got to love these kids. They have a lot of heart and togetherness, and you can make up for a lot with that."
It looked, for a while, like SSC would escape with a low-scoring win despite their continuing troubles getting the ball in the basket. Abbye Gulvas scored the last of her 17 points on a 3-pointer with 2:05 to play to give the Panthers a 41-38 lead.
Kristi Killackey answered with a basket to cut the lead to one, and after an exchange of free throws, Kate Morrell hit a short jumper in the paint with 40 seconds left to give the Falcons the lead for good. Ashley Thompson hit a free throw with 2.6 seconds left for the final margin.
"We got just what we deserved," said SSC coach Kevin King. "We played poorly, but Ogemaw did a nice job of making that happen. They handled our pressure well -- especially when they got the ball to Ashley Thompson -- but when you can't score, it's hard to press.
"When you get one basket in the second quarter like we did, you're usually going to lose and probably should."
The Panthers may have managed just one hoop in the second quarter -- a layup by Paige Raes -- but Ogemaw managed just three of their own. Still the Panthers led for all but a few seconds of the first half while scratching out a 16-13 halftime lead.
Killackey scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter as the Falcons turned the game into a back-and-forth affair, and Thompson took over offensively in the fourth with nine of her game-high 18.
"Ashley did a nice job under some unrelenting pressure," Hansen said. "And I thought we did a good job of (defensively) recognizing (Abbye) Gulvas for the most part.
"They didn't have Ashlyn Gulvas (away on a college visit) tonight, though, and she would have made a difference for them."
The Falcon (4-2, 2-0 NEMC) victory sets up a battle for first place next Friday with Tawas Area (6-0, 2-0). SSC (2-5, 0-2) will seek some answers Friday at John Glenn.
"There weren't any real positives to take out of this game," King said. "But Monday we'll get back in the gym and keep working. The girls are hard workers; we need to focus on being ready for districts."