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Roundup: The Jim Whymer Memorial Holiday Tournament

There’s nothing quite like getting in the Christmas spirit by playing a local rival in a basketball tournament.

And while the annual Jim Whymer Memorial Holiday Basketball Tournament was cut a day short due to the impending snow storm, girls basketball teams from Port Huron High, Port Huron Northern, St. Clair, and Marysville all met in the Vikings’ gym for a pair of games Thursday night.

“It was a great night for basketball,” Marysville head coach Ryan Rathje said. “Jim Whymer was just one of the greatest people I’d ever met when it came to making people feel special, whether it was writing about them or even just talking to them. We sorely miss him, but we’re very honored to be able to have his name go on an event that local teams enjoy playing in.”

Port Huron v. Port Huron Northern

The Big Reds and Huskies played first. Both teams got off to a slow start before Port Huron junior Isabelle Trombly scored five quick points. Once her freshman teammate Bryn Mullins scored another bucket, the Big Reds were up 7-0 with four minutes to go in the first.

Combined, the two teams started six sophomores, two freshmen, and two juniors, and while Port Huron head coach Stacie Maier said she didn’t plan to start such a young squad, she was proud of the way her team stepped up.

Port Huron junior Daija Brown attacks the basket in the Jim Whymer Memorial Holiday Tournament.

“We had some changes before the game, and the girls that started for me did a heck of a job,” Maier said. “I think the nerves and everything got out and they just went out and did what I asked them to. I very much appreciated that.”

By halftime, the Big Reds led 22-11, and they would go on to win 43-22, paced by their juniors Trombly and Iliana Williams who each had 11 points.

“I feel like I did my part,” Trombly said. “I think we came out really slow, but at the end we got hungry and wanted the ball and tried getting steals...That’s one of the things we need to work on, it happens a lot. We’re like a second half team. We always come out the second half better than the first.”

Ava Weber, a Port Huron sophomore who stands all of 5-foot-2, is a large reason for her team’s intense defense. Her quickness and ability to read and react to plays made her a very effective pest.

“You can hear her little shoes, they’re like, ‘squeak, squeak, squeak,’” Maier said. “Defensively she’s annoying. We try to put her on somebody and just rattle them and get in their heads. Her defense is top notch, one of the huge reasons she’s in our varsity lineup. I tell her all the time I’d hate to play against her. I’d hate for any of my point guards to have to play against her.”

Weber was in charge of slowing Northern freshman Jadelynn Freeman who’s consistently been a scoring leader for the Huskies. She managed 15 of her team’s 22 points in the loss.

Port Huron sophomore Ava Weber defends Northern freshman Jadelynn Freeman.

“Jade is a talented player. She works hard. She’s young and has her ups and downs, but she has that ability to just turn it on at times. You see flashes of it throughout the season,” Northern head coach Ryan Rossi said. “They did a good job on her tonight. That’s a good defensive team, but Jade made plays down the stretch.”

While Port Huron and Northern would typically play several times throughout the season, last night was the only time they’ll meet this year, and Trombly said she was glad to come out on top in their only opportunity.

“It was really nice, especially [to win] against Northern,” she said. “Even though we can’t play the next game, we were ready. We wanted to beat them.”

Marysville v. St. Clair

Following a two-point loss to the Saints in early December, the Vikings bounced back to win 42-27 last night.

“It was a lot of fun,” Marysville junior Avery Wolters said. “We really worked together and it was like payback for our loss last time.”

Marysville jumped out to a 12-4 lead after the first and led 21-10 by the half, but even so, Rathje noted, his team never held a comfortable lead. In the fourth quarter, St. Clair crept within seven at 30-23 after senior Payton Malcom hit a 3-pointer with five minutes to go.

“St. Clair’s a tough team. The girls are athletic and play hard and are really well-coached,” Rathje said. “I thought our girls did some nice things to get a lead, but St. Clair kept answering back with big shots…We just had to keep battling.”

The Vikings responded with a 12-1 run midway through the fourth, led by Wolters with eight of the points. She had a game-high 16 points, and also a lot of steals thanks to an adjustment in the Marysville defense.

“I was the one who dropped down to guard that middle person. Kara [Miller] and Meghan [Winston] can do their job up top, but their height just kind of restricts them a little bit to be able to grab those high balls,” Wolters said. “I was able to drop back and not let the ball get into the middle.”

“I thought Avery did her best job of the year getting to the basket and playing down low and strong and physical,” Rathje said.

Offensively, senior Ashlyn Zimmer led the Saints with 11 points, and on the defensive end, sophomore Allie Komarowski managed to hold Marysville’s Miller to three points. The last time the two teams played Miller posted 18.

Marysville senior Meghan Winston shoots the ball against St. Clair in the Jim Whymer Memorial Tournament.

“Allie has all the energy in the world. She’s a cross country runner and she just goes. She has a motor,” St. Clair head coach Darren Pietrykowski said. “We’ve just got to get her confidence and compsure there on the offensive end. You’ll be hearing from her a lot.”

These two teams could likely meet again in the district tournament in March, which is when Pietrykowski said he hopes his team is playing its best basketball.

“Rathje’s program is terrific and we’re trying to get to that level, and playing better teams only makes you better. Hopefully we’ll give them a better game the third time around,” he said. “We haven’t put it all together yet. We’ll get there. We’ll be a different team by the end. They always say you want to play your best basketball at the end of February or March.”


For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli

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