Experience powers Cougars to district title

RAPID RIVER – Playoff basketball is nothing new to Superior Central’s senior class and their experience showed on Friday night as they defeated Big Bay de Noc 60-31, for their third straight district title.

The Cougars were led by their “big three” of Teslyn Tyner, Brooke Pasanen and Vanessa Freberg. The senior trio, who have been a part of the last three district titles, combined for 48 points in the rout.

“The whole bunch, I’m pretty proud of them,” said Cougars head coach Greg Trowbridge. “It’s my last year with a bunch of them. My seniors, the last three years, have only got six losses, so that’s pretty impressive.”

Superior Central applied the full-court press in the first quarter. The Black Bears were able to find some success early with their press break, as they trailed 8-4 midway through the first, but the Cougars pressure wore them down.

“Our press isn’t always for the turnovers, it’s just to try to get the other team in a bit of a frenzy where they’re not doing things they normally do,” Trowbridge said. “It’s not always the steal, sometimes they’re throwing the ball out of bounds, making bad passes, just taking bad shots. So that’s our whole idea.”

The Cougars frantic defense paid off as they created nine first quarter turnovers and 16 by half-time.

“We came out good the first half of the first quarter,” said BBdN head coach Ryan Knoph. “We played right where we were suppose to. Then we had that little breakdown with the passing and got behind and that was about the end of it right off the bat.”

Trailing 8-4 midway through the first quarter, the Black Bears switched to a zone, in an effort to slow Superior Central’s attack.

Tyner responded by draining a 3-pointer, on the next play Freberg scored on an offensive put-back and Tyner took a steal coast-to-coast as the Cougars extended their lead to 15-4. Katie Trowbridge hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to cap off a 10-0 run for Superior Central.

The Cougars led 23-6 after the first quarter and BBdN never got within 20 points after Superior Central opened the second quarter on a 10-1 run.

“They were sitting in a zone, keying on Vanessa and Brooke, so I mentioned to Teslyn if you’re wide open you’ve got to shot it,” Trowbridge said. “We put players in I thought could hit that shot from the wing so we set up that.”

After showing zone early, BBdN switched back to a man-to-man look for the majority of the game. Tyner and Pasanen took advantage as they found their way into the lane all night. The duo scored Superior Central’s first 10 points of the fourth quarter, mostly off of looks in the paint.

“That was what we were trying to do, we had a couple of offenses we were trying to set up to take advantage of their speed and what they can do,” Trowbridge said.

The Cougars shot 22-of-47 for the night. The Black Bears converted 11-of-44 attempts. The Cougars shot seven 3-pointers in the first quarter but only attempted one after that.

Big Bay de Noc (5-18) was paced by seniors Samantha Sundling and Chelsea Thompson, who netted 12 and eight points respectively. Cassidy Cayemberg, who started at point guard, also played her final game for the Black Bears, scoring two points.

“All 23 games they played from the beginning to the end as hard as they could and they didn’t give up,” Knoph said. “I couldn’t be more proud of Sam’s year. She played great, averaging a double-double and she was great to coach. Chelsea played hard and she gave it all on her defense all the time. Cassidy, for her first year playing point as a senior, she did really well.”

Superior Central (20-2) advances to the regional semifinal this Tuesday in Kingsford where they will meet Stephenson (20-2).

“We’re just glad and we’re looking forward to this week being able to play Stephenson and hopefully Crystal Falls,” Trowbridge said. “What happens, happens from now until then and we will try to enjoy the moment.”