IRONWOOD — On Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, the women's basketball team of Gogebic Community College returned home from the Anoka Classic in Coon Rapids, Minn. with an 0-2 record.
The team had not played well in its first two games and it looked like a long season might be on its way.
This past Saturday, the Lady Samsons blitzed the UW-Marinette Lady Bucs 69-43.
It was their 17th win in their last 22 games. Gogebic is now a team that is coming on hard and fast.
If you're still skeptical, consider the comments of veteran UW-Marinette coach Jeff Sunstrom after Saturday's game.
"They are as good a team as we've played," Sunstrom said. "That's a very good team. Their guards are very talented, very quick. They do a great job of pressuring the ball and then when you get the ball downcourt against their press, they bring a girl from behind and trap you into a turnover or steal. The only way to beat them is to get the ball into your big girls, because Gogebic is not tall. But they push your offense way out and you can't get the ball into your big girls."
Saturday's stat chart proved Sunstrom's point. The Lady Bucs out-rebounded GCC 42-35 and out-shot them percentage-wise in making 20-44 shots (45.5%) to Gogebic's 28-75 (37.3%).
But the Lady Samsons had the game well in hand by half-time with a 38-23 lead. There was a simple explanation for this. Gogebic caused 37 UW-Marinette turnovers and scored 33 points off those turnovers to only four for the Lady Bucs.
"We get a lot of turnovers, because coach Mo (Mark Movrich) makes us work hard in practice and we keep getting better at it," GCC point guard Sam Ofstad said. "We emphasize defense a lot. We also practice a lot of transition and we're always running and always on the go. We have to run because we're not big and can't just throw it in to the big girls."
Movrich said early in the season that he was adjusting to the college game and the women's team was adjusting to him as a new coach.
On Saturday, Movrich said he thought the adjustment period was 90 percent complete.
"One thing I've stressed is 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time," he said. "It's not who we play but how we play. This is who we are-this is what we do. We have to take advantage of and use our quickness on offense and defense. We can't go slow. Give the girls credit because it didn't come together right away. But the girls have bought into the running and defense."
In Saturday's game, the Lady Samsons fell behind 7-2 early on, but then Gogebic began to roll. Movrich gave some of the younger freshmen players such as Korrie Trier and Samantha Robl more playing time and they responded well.
After Bry Stengard made a left hand shot from the lane, Trier sank a 12-foot shot off the glass, Ofstad scored and Trier came back with a left hand lay-in and then connected from 15-feet from the right wing.
GCC went up 12-7 at the 14:17 mark.
Robl made the most of her 21 minutes on the court by playing aggressive defense and coming away with six steals.
Ofstad kept the scoring parade going by making a put-back and then dribbling downcourt and pulling up for a shot and score. Heather Selin quickly drained a triple from the right corner.
Play was physical on both sides and GCC's press began to wear on UW-Marinette. Ofstad made a breakaway steal for two and then Selin's shot came down short and Brittni Kisul turned it into a pass and a score.
Robl made a steal and a pass ahead to Ofstad for a basket and Selin's long dribble down-court resulted in a lay-up, which gave Gogebic a 27-13 advantage with 6:18 left in the half.
When Adeline Kariainen passed to Ofstad for a short range bank shot, the Lady Samsons had made its longest run by out-scoring the Lady Bucs 18-3.
The half was finished off by a nice high-low pass from Stengard to Kisul and then Ofstad drilled a 20-footer with 2.4 seconds remaining.
GCC led 39-23 at the break.
The Lady Samsons steadily increased their lead in the second half.
Ofstad can not only score points, but she also creates scoring opportunities for her teammates.
Dribbling down the lane, she made a quick shuffle pass to Stengard for a score. Gogebic went up 56-35 with 7:25 remaining and the game was no longer in doubt.
UW-Marinette's Lindsey Krajewski had a great afternoon going 10 of 16 from the field and added three free throws for 23 points.
"She's really a good player for us," Sunstrom said.
GCC got balanced scoring with three players in double figures. Ofstad topped the Lady Samson scoring with 16 points and dished out six assists. Kisul added 14 points to go along with seven rebounds and Stengard notched 13 points with seven steals.
Gogebic (17-7) hosts "a big, physical" Silver Lake team on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Lady Samsons have four games left before Region 13 Tournament play.
"We would like to get 20 wins before the tournament," Movrich said.
UW-Marinette — Erin Connor 12, Chyannne Schaut 2, Amanda Lesandroni 4, Jessa Belland 2, Lindsey Krajewski 23. FTs: 3-10. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: none.
Gogebic — Samantha Robl 5, Korrie Trier 8, Bry Stengard 13, Sam Ofstad 16, Heather Selin 7, Brittany Raisanen 3, Adeline Kariainen 3, Brittni Kisul 14. FTs: 11-14. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Robl 1, Selin 1.
Half: Gogebic 39-23.