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Speedgirls stick with No. 1 ranked Vikings for 3 quarters


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Bessemer's Allyson Metas passes across the court during Friday night's game against Baraga at the House of Noise in Bessemer.

BESSEMER - Bessemer stayed with the Upper Peninsula's top-ranked Class D girls team, Baraga, for three quarters, but the Vikings pulled away for a 42-24 Copper Mountain Conference victory Friday night.

"We had the No. 1 team in the U.P. at our house and we played them solid for three quarters," Bessemer coach Gerry Pelissero said. "I told the girls after the game, 'OK, are you convinced you can play with anybody left on our schedule?' Certainly, we can."

The Speedgirls (2-9, 2-6) returned home after seven straight on the road and won Tuesday over Lake Linden-Hubbell and then pushed the Vikings Friday night despite facing the reality of being without leading scorer Rachel Emery for an extended period of time. Bessemer led in the first quarter and stayed within a couple of possessions until a small third-quarter run gave Baraga a 29-21 lead going into the fourth. That's when Baraga pulled away, outscoring Bessemer 13-3.

The Vikings (7-1, 7-0) are the top-ranked team in this week's U.P. poll, the first of the season. This was their seventh straight win after starting the season with their only loss, to Houghton, ranked first in the Class ABC poll.

This was Baraga's first game since the poll was released Tuesday; that was a factor Friday night, and so was Bessemer's strong performance, Baraga coach Keith Willis said.

"The kids have never been rated No. 1 in the U.P.," he said. "We came out, and even in warm-ups, these kids had an adrenaline rush. First three quarters, we just did not play like we're capable of. I think the girls, this is to their plus side, I think they just got together and they just said, 'This is it.'

"But their coach put together a great plan, I thought he had his team ready to play. You can't just say, jeez, 'We played bad.' They played pretty darned good for three quarters."

Baraga's Carsyn Osterman scored 13 of her 21 points in the second half. With her team ahead just 20-18, she hit a 3 that started a 9-3 run to end the third quarter. She was 6 of 6 at the foul line in the second half and scored six points in the fourth quarter.

The Speedgirls scored the first point of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to seven, 29-22, and Baraga responded with a four-corners look early in the frame.

"We played man, so when they spread us out, and once Osterman gets behind or in front of someone, she's got a layup, and that's what happened," Pelissero said. "She made some big, big shots."

It was a big fourth quarter for the Vikings.

"We played one quarter," Willis said. "Unfortunately, we have not played four quarters all year. This is a game like we've been playing, games are close and then all of a sudden, we get that one quarter. I think we played pretty good in the fourth quarter."

Missed shots and turnovers also hurt them, he said.

"I'm not pleased with this at all. The kids in the locker room are not pleased, so that's a bonus," Willis said. "Hat's off to Bessemer. They played a good game. Their coach had them ready to play. We're getting out of here with a win."

Taylor Manchester led Bessemer with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Caitlyn Lynch had seven points and several blocks.

"We're learning to play with the 10 we have now," Pelissero said. "Team's coming together, I think, a little bit. We're putting some pieces together. Certainly disappointed we lost, but also pleased with how we played.

"We worked hard. We had some confidence from Tuesday night's win against Lake Linden. We played solid, we just can't get that extra scoring from someone."

Bessemer hosts Watersmeet Tuesday.

Baraga - Megan Kinnunen 5, Justice Kinnunen 7, Casey Mleko 6, Carsyn Osterman 21, Kerstyn Clisch 1, M. Jahfetson 2. FTs: 12-19. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: J. Kinnunen 2, M. Kinnunen, Osterman 1.

Bessemer - Megan Peterson 2, Kelsey Kitto 2, Caitlin Lynch 7, Maddie Jacobson 2, Taylor Manchester 11. FTs: 8-14. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: None.

Baraga 10 18 29 42

Bessemer 7 14 21 24


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