Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Half of North Branch's starting lineup was playing in a volleyball state championship 10 days ago, so head coach Tim Gormley said he wasn’t sure what to expect. But after the Broncos defeated Marysville 52-33 in their season opener, he was pleasantly surprised.
“We hadn’t scrimmaged yet this year so this was our first time in game mode, but I was impressed with how we played tonight,” Gormley said. “My goal was to see what we need to work on and there are a few things. We’re rusty, but we’ll get there…We’re kind of just turning volleyball legs into basketball legs, but we’re doing alright.”
Marysville’s 5-1 lead at the start would be its first and only of the game. By the end of the first quarter, North Branch led 11-8 and extended it to 25-13 by the half. Senior guard Bailey Gormley led the Broncos with 23 points, including three 3-pointers.
“I think I did pretty well offensively, defensively was not my best. As a team, I thought we clicked. For our first game, I thought we did really well,” Bailey Gormley said. “I was proud of our team because we have two freshmen who were kind of shaky and they came out of their shells…and our chemistry was there today which I was really proud to see.”
Fellow senior Natasha Bickel added 11 points on the night, and junior Maci Kaake added six.
“I expect Bailey to be that team leader, she’s a senior, and I think Natasha led as well inside. She can shoot outside and inside,” Tim Gormley said.
Both teams played aggressively, testing various defenses, pressing full court, and pushing the ball on fast break opportunities. There were also plenty of opportunities at the free-throw line as the two teams combined for 41 attempts.
“I thought we did better in the second half. In the first half we missed some easy shots and were playing from behind,” Marysville head coach Ryan Rathje said. “Too many turnovers and things like that, but give North Branch credit, they made our lives difficult.”
Just as the Broncos are looking to improve their chemistry as they find their “basketball legs,” the Vikings are looking to replace eight seniors from last year’s regional championship team. Rathje said he’s excited to get back in the gym on a consistent basis, and that his team’s “flashes” of solid basketball proved its potential, like in the game’s final minute when the Vikings managed three steals for three baskets.
“I thought they had some toughness and better effort in the second half. They fought better so we’re going to need to build on that,” he said. “Whether it’s young people or people who are stepping into all new roles, obviously it’s really different from last year, so we’re just trying to figure out how to play basketball the right way consistently for the whole time. We did it in flashes, we just have to be able to do it the whole game.”
Junior forward Avery Wolters led the Vikings on offense with nine points, and senior guard Meghan Winston and sophomore guard Addison Mynsberge each added six.
Both teams will return to action this Friday: North Branch back on its home court against Millington, and Marysville will host Port Huron Northern for its home opener. Both games are set for 7 p.m.
“[Tuesday’s win] gives us a lot of confidence. Our goals for the season are league, district, and regional [championships],” Bailey Gormley said, “and to have this good of a game in our first game is mind blowing, so we’re excited about it.”
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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