Mid Pen awakens, stuffs hungry Rockets

PERKINS – The Mid Peninsula girls had just watched their 11-point lead at halftime shrink and Rapid River, hungry for its first win of the season, was bearing down.

Wolverines coach Ryan Lyle called a key time out and lit a fire under his team and Mid Peninsula dominated the rest of the way, winning 57-31 Monday night in a dual Skyline/Central U.P. Conference game.

The Wolverines held a 29-18 lead at halftime but came out on the lethargic side after the break and the Rockets made them pay.

Kristy Kerstner and Hannah Kanyuh hit back-to-back shots to start the third quarter, getting with seven points. Marissa Westlund answered with a timely triple for Mid Pen but the Rockets came right back with a 3-pointer from Kanyuh, prompting Lyle to call time out.

“I tell the girls a lot of the time that I’m usually the one that calls the time outs,” said Rockets coach Michelle Carne. “I told the girls make it a goal for yourself to make the other coach call time out, and they did that tonight.”

Lyle wasn’t happy with his team’s effort coming out of the break.

“We have a history this year of coming out flat after halftime,” he said. “I think the problem was that we had that 12-point lead at the half and felt we could coast. (Rapid River) came out with intensity and gave us a couple good shots and we didn’t match it.

“I told the girls, there’s no intensity from any of you and if you want to win this game, I don’t care who we’re playing, you have to come out and play.”

And the Wolverines did.

Mid Pen took a 32-25 lead and blew it open, going on an 11-2 run to take a 43-27 lead into the fourth quarter. After the time out, midway through the third quarter, Kelsey Shope hit a jumper and Hunter Branstrom got a nice putback after missing two free throws. Before the end of the quarter, Shope hit another triple and Krysta VanDamme powered inside for a contested layup.

Branstrom and Shope led Mid Pen with 15 points apiece. Shope added nine rebounds, six steals and three blocks while Branstrom had nine rebounds and four steals. VanDamme finished with nine points and 14 rebounds after being hounded all night by the Rockets defense.

“Krysta had a nine game layoff and wasn’t able to work out and exercise because of the leg injury,” said Lyle. “It’s a matter of getting her back into game shape. I pushed her hard tonight and the fatigue was part of her shooting issues, but Rapid River is a tall, physical team as well. It’s not easy to shoot the ball when bodies are banging. She did well though.”

The Rockets were playing with only six girls. Avery Kanyuh was out with an illness and the team found out late last week that Veronica Schram would be leaving the team.

The team played inspired, but it was inevitable that fatigue would eventually set in. After the midway point of the third quarter, the Wolverines outscored Rapid River 25-6.

Hannah Kanyuh led the Rockets with 11 points while Kerstner added eight.

“I can’t complain, especially with six girls. They battled hard and I’m proud of them tonight,” said Carne. “Our young girls are coming through. I tell them you want to leave the program better than when you started. This was a start and you have to start somewhere. I’m happy with where we’re at right now.”

Thursday night, Rapid River (0-14, 0-11 Skyline, 0-13 CUP) hosts North Central and Mid Peninsula (6-11, 4-7 Skyline, 4-7 CUP) which won the jayvee game 31-24, welcomes Big Bay de Noc.