GMG girls top BGM in opener

GMG senior Emily Vaughn, right, drives to the basket for a layup during the second half of Monday’s season-opening girls’ basketball game in Garwin. Photo by Noah Rohlfing

GARWIN — GMG girls’ basketball coach Justin Hornberg called Monday night’s game between the Wolverines and the BGM Bears “what you would expect” from a season opener in 2020.

But there was nothing typical about the end of the Wolverines’ 46-45 win.

The Wolverines trailed early, took the lead early in the second half, then made a late comeback to pick up the victory and give valuable experience to a group of young players.

“The offense was okay,” Hornberg said. “The defense left something to be desired, but you can’t complain about 46 points in the first game. We’re a work in progress, obviously. There’s a lot of parts there, now it’s just about how you mesh all the parts together.”

The game started out poorly for GMG, as BGM took an early 9-4 lead before holding a 15-10 advantage after the first quarter of action. Early and often, the Wolverines ran the offense through senior guard Emily Vaughn, who will be a key part of the Wolverines’ attack the whole season — both as a senior leader and the team’s most dynamic offensive threat.

Vaughn, who led the team with 18 points and hit the team’s only 3-pointer of the night, was the catalyst of a motion offense that Hornberg said he’s been hammering into the team since December 2019.

The ball movement created opportunities for the Wolverines on one end, but on the defensive end BGM was getting whatever it wanted in the first half. Belle Austin and the Bears made life difficult for GMG’s man defense. Hornberg was forced to mix it up — so he went with a press, a defense the Wolverines have struggled to play against.

Hornberg said the team stepped up its intensity when pressing.

“Sitting back at half court wasn’t doing anything for us,” Hornberg said. “Because we had so many young kids out on the floor I told them we would take a timeout and go over their roles before [we pressed]. It looked really good. I think it was three or four possessions in a row there that we turned them over. It didn’t always end in a basket but we got shots and that’s what we wanted to get.”

The halftime score was 25-25 and early on in the second half, it looked like the press was going to crack BGM and hand GMG the win. Up 33-27, the Wolverines had a chance to pull away.

Instead, the opposite happened. BGM finished the third quarter on an 11-0 run. Hornberg was frustrated on the sidelines as he saw the lead vanish and GMG’s confidence go with it.

Holding steady in the fourth quarter and trailing by six with five minutes left, Hornberg said teams in prior years might have given up.

But this year’s team reacted differently and kept the game within five points with two minutes left. Bringing the press back, GMG rattled off six of the last seven points of the contest. The final bucket was scored by Adelyn Sienknecht (eight points) after the Wolverines created a turnover off of an inbounds pass. There were 13.5 seconds left, and for the first time in the fourth quarter GMG was in the lead.

From there, BGM attempted to take a shot but the ball was stolen, and Marriah Stonewall (10 points on the night) ran up the court with the clock running out, missing a shot attempt but sealing the game. The Wolverines had won, and they could celebrate.

Not a typical season opener, but certainly a memorable one.

GMG 46, BGM 45

At Garwin

BGM (0-1) — Belle Austin 5 6-12 18, Alexa Coleman 2 0-2 4, Sophie Puls 4 0-3 8, Zanielle Johnson 1 0-0 2, Paige Cottrell, 5 3-4 13, Ava Sacora 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 17 9-21 45.

GMG (1-0) — Colby Miller 0 0-0 0, Angel Schewe 0 0-0 0, 8 1-1 18, Kaylea Duden 3 0-0 6, Marriah Stonewall 5 0-0 10, Jocee Mason 0 0-0 0, Stephenie Claussen 0 0-0 0, Adelyn Sienknecht 4 0-0 8, Reese Dieleman 2 0-1 4. TOTALS 22 1-2 46.

3-Point Goals-BGM 2 (Austin 2), GMG 1 (Vaughn). Team Fouls-BGM 12, GMG 18. Fouled Out-Sacora.