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Baldwin scores 2,000th point, leads Nimrods past Speedgirls


February 27, 2018

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Watersmeet's Bethany Baldwin, right, goes to the basket as Bessemer's Caitlin Lynch (20) defends Monday night at Nimrod Nation in Watersmeet.

WATERSMEET - Watersmeet coach Brent Besonen was a bit worried the pressure of getting to 2,000 career points might get to Bethany Baldwin on the opening night of the tournament Monday.

She put those fears to rest in a hurry.

The senior scored 17 in the first quarter, surpassed the milestone in the third quarter and finished with 41 points, leading the Nimrods past the Speedgirls 64-46 in the first round of the MHSAA Class D District 127 tournament. The Nimrods will host Wakefield-Marenisco in a semifinal Wednesday night.

"I tell you what, she stepped up just amazingly tonight," Besonen said.

Both teams were missing a key starter. Senior Rebecca Caron, Watersmeet's only other upperclassman on the team was out with an injury, and the Nimrods were forced to start a seventh grader. Bessemer's leading scorer and rebounder on most nights, Taylor Manchester, was out due to a family matter.

Watersmeet had Baldwin, though, and she finished with 41 points. Her young teammates stepped up, too, especially in the second quarter when she had just six points.

It was Bessemer that came out on fire with Kelsey Kitto hitting back-to-back 3s for an early 6-0 lead. Emily Matonich and Caitlin Lynch both scored to put the Speedgirls up 11-4.

Watersmeet responded with a 12-2 run. Katrina Lemery scored the first basket in the Nimrods' run, but it was all Baldwin after that.

By the time the first quarter was over, Watersmeet led 21-16, and Baldwin had outscored the Speedgirls herself.

Baldwin scored six points in the second quarter. She needed some help in that quarter and she got it. Hailey Pallin chipped in with seven of her nine in the second period and Naomi Nelson finished with 10 points overall.

"They got 10 points in the second quarter from people I guess we were willing to not stop as much," Bessemer coach Gerry Pelissero said. "It was (Baldwin) and her teammates tonight, not just her."

Watersmeet has a few other kids who can contribute in scoring this year, Besonen said.

"(Pallin) played a fantastic game for us, she had a ton of rebounds," he said. "Naomi had a couple big 3-pointers, right when momentum either way was a little iffy."

Baldwin needed three points in the second half to get to 2,000 points in her five-year career. She got there midway through the third quarter on a breakaway layup.

"It was just an amazing feeling," Baldwin said. "It was even a better feeling than 1,000. It was awesome. I was just trying to play my game, I didn't want to think about it. When I went for 1,000, I was so nervous I kept missing my shots. So I just wanted to play my game tonight."

Much like a press played into her hands last week, Bessemer missing long shots played into Baldwin's hands as well. Watersmeet's leading rebounder was able to get the long board and start the fast break before the Bessemer defense could react, leading to a lot of layups.

"She would get it and she would go," Pelissero said. "We tried to stop her from rebounding and then getting out on the fast break, but she's so quick that by the time we realized she was coming, she was already down there and then our girls didn't know what to do once she crossed half court. We told them to hold your position. But we just ran along side of her.

"She's a terrific player."

Kelsey Kitto led Bessemer with 16 points and Megan Peterson had 12.

Bessemer finished the season at 6-15. Watersmeet improved to 7-12.

Bessemer - Megan Peterson 12, Kelsey Kitto 16, Emily Matonich 5, Caitlin Lynch 6, Karli Trcka 2, Hanna Koivisto 5. FTs: 10-20. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Kitto 3, Peterson 2, Koivisto 1.

Watersmeet - Naomi Nelson 10, Katrina Lemery 2, Bethany Baldwin 41, Annabelle Besonen 2, Hailey Pallin 9. FTs: 9-19. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Elissya Haapala. 3-pointers: Nelson 2, Baldwin 1.

Bessemer 16 29 37 46

Watersmeet 21 37 49 64


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