Glads halt 3 comebacks to down Lady Cards in Class C pre-district
Johannesburg-Lewiston fought back three times, but its girls basketball team couldn't get past ninth-ranked Traverse City St. Francis.
St. Francis defeated the Cardinals 52-40 in the Class C pre-district Monday at Mancelona. But it took everything the Gladiators (19-2) had to stymy three J-L runs and consistently maintain their lead.
"They never quit from the first second to the last second," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "That's something they can be proud of, and they can hold their heads high. We fought back and came close."
The Cardinals (18-3) overcame a 15-7 deficit from the first quarter by opening with an 11-4 run in the second.
J-L's Madison Showerman and Kelsey Cherwinski each grabbed steals at half court and took them the distance for lay ups. Also during the run, Cherwinski buried a 3-pointer.
But St. Francis ended J-L's effort with an 8-2 run of its own. It forced five turnovers and Sarah Carney and Anne Lyman each scored five points during the period.
"We turned the ball over too many times," Huff said. "When we'd get long runs, we'd let them back into it."
With J-L trailing by 10 points at halftime, Emily Aisthorpe made the first two baskets of the third quarter to trim her team's deficit to 27-23.
But J-L allowed Lyman and Megan Knudsen to each hit 3-pointers and help St. Francis carry a 39-29 advantage into the final eight minutes.
Once again, J-L fought its way back in the fourth with a 7-0 run to begin the quarter. It trailed 39-36 after Mady Ewing and Kelsey Cherwinski made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. Ewing was fouled on her attempt and sank the and-1 free throw.
But that's as close as the Cardinals could get. St. Francis tightened its defense, forced six additional turnovers and held J-L without a single field goal in the last five minutes.
"They're long (on defense) so they're hard to pass around," Huff said. "Sometimes we made (moving the ball) harder than it needed to be."
St. Francis shot 6-of-12 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to preserve its win and advance to Wednesday's district semifinal against Mancelona.
Lyman led the Glads with 13 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and five assists. Knudsen scored 13 points and added seven rebounds, and Carney finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
J-L's Showerman scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Cherwinski had eight points and eight rebounds and Aisthorpe chipped in eight points and six rebounds. Ewing helped with six points and five rebounds.
The pre-district loss marked the end of J-L's season.
It graduates three seniors in Aisthorpe, Ewing and Ali Johnson. Aisthorpe and Ewing were dependable first-year starters for Huff while Johnson added height and physical play off the bench.
"We were fairly young (this season), so that may explain a little bit of our ups and downs," Huff said. "Even when we were down, they still fought back. We won some close ones once they figured out how to do that and keep their composure in certain situations. Hopefully, that will make us better for next year."
The Cardinals, who finished second in the Ski Valley Conference, return a mixture of eight sophomores and juniors from this past season's squad and will add several junior varsity players, including Taylor Kroll, Claire Huber and Ellen Weaver.
Lady Cards edge Fairview after trailing at halftime
Johannesburg-Lewiston left it all on the court in its season finale Thursday, as its girls basketball team needed a true team effort to edge Fairview 45-40 in a non conference game.
The Cardinals, 18-2 overall, trailed the Eagles 22-14 at halftime. They struggled to move the ball against Fairview's defense or find strong scoring opportunities.
It was a much different Fairview team than the one J-L defeated 52-34 in the season opener in December.
"We let them hurt us with their defense in the first half," J-L coach Heather Huff said.
"I knew it'd be a better game because I've been watching (Fairview's) scores. They've been in every single game and have been within two and three points of teams in each game this season."
J-L outscored Fairview 16-9 in the third quarter to trail by only one point entering the last period.
The Cardinals relied on improved defense to chip away at their deficit while a host of individual players stepped up their play.
Madison Showerman helped J-L open up its offense by scoring most of her 20 points in the second half.
"We went into a full-court, man-to-man press and did a better job on defense," Huff said. "We got steals and made some baskets.
"Showerman came alive in the second half. She started driving to the basket and hitting outside shots. She really brought us back."
Fairview cut J-L's lead to three points in the final minutes, but the Eagles couldn't stop J-L's Emily Aisthorpe, Kelsey Cherwinski and Sarah Korff in the end.
Cherwinski drained a pair of 3-pointers, J-L's guards fed Aisthorpe down low for six points and Korff pulled down seven crucial rebounds.
J-L also received help from Kate Heidman who scored five points and made a key 3-pointer.
Showerman finished with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Cherwinski recorded three assists and three steals, Aisthorpe had five rebounds and Korff chipped in four points and two assists.
With the regular season finished, J-L now faces Traverse City St. Francis in a Class C pre-regional game Monday, March 2, at Mancelona.
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston showed Thursday just how well its girls basketball team can play when it rebounds. But it didn’t begin playing well until halfway through the second half.
The Cardinals, 17-2 overall and 14-2 in the Ski Valley, overcame a one-point halftime deficit to defeat Onaway 46-33 at home.
J-L opened the second half with an 11-0 run to recapture the lead after trailing 20-19 at halftime.
It used its half-court defense to limit Onaway’s effectiveness on offense. Onaway didn’t score for the first 7:55 of the half and had only two points on 1-of-12 shooting in the third quarter.
J-L carried an eight-point advantage into the fourth.
In the final three minutes, J-L’s Emily Aisthorpe banked in three lay ups, including two from Kelsey Cherwinski’s passes on consecutive possessions.
Mady Ewing then buried a 3-pointer for J-L to separate from Onaway down the stretch.
“In the fourth quarter, they did what they needed to do and kept their composure,” J-L coach Heather Huff said. “We were able to run the clock out and control the rebounds.
“Our rebounding in the first half was ridiculous and the second half was better. We finally started boxing out. There were no excuses for it in the first half.”
J-L out rebounded Onaway 23-9 in the second half.
Ali Johnson led J-L’s resurgence, as she finished with eight boards and kept J-L’s possessions alive offensively in the fourth. Her defensive rebounds also slowed down Onaway’s offense.
“She got some big offensive rebounds and big defensive rebounds down there,” Huff said. “She did a very good job of that, and Emily did a better job rebounding in the fourth quarter as well.”
Madison Showerman led J-L with 14 points, Ewing finished with nine and Sarah Korff had six rebounds and five assists. Cherwinski had seven points, five assists and three steals.
Had J-L played early on like it had in the second half, the final score would have been drastically different.
Onaway earned an early 5-0 lead in the first and didn’t have trouble beating J-L’s press with passes and dribbling.
At the same time, J-L struggled offensively and didn’t score its first basket until Showerman knocked down a 3-pointer five minutes into play.
J-L forced 10 turnovers but led by only 9-6 entering the second.
With 2:20 left before halftime, Onaway’s Lexi Szymoniak scored a tough and-1 lay up that tied the game 16-16.
On the next possession, Morganne Badgero added two free throws to give Onaway its first lead since the opening period.
Onaway’s Maddie McClean entered halftime with eight rebounds, and Szymoniak had six.
Onaway out rebounded J-L 18-8 in the first half.
“Onaway’s shots were a little hard so their rebounds were coming a little farther than what you might normally see,” Huff said. “But we still needed to do a better job.
“If you’re standing in front of someone and get them sealed, they’re not going to get a rebound. If you’re just standing in front of them and don’t have them sealed, they can still get it.”
Onaway’s Szymoniak scored 13 points, McClean finished with nine rebounds and Badgero had nine points.
• J-L forced 22 turnovers, but Onaway recovered well on defense to clog the paint and halt J-L’s ability to score off steals in transition.
• Onaway shot 12-of-27 from the foul line and four J-L players carried three or more fouls. Showerman fouled out with 6:19 left while Ewing played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls.
The Cardinals visit Fairview on Thursday, Feb. 26, for their season finale.
Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Taylor Kroll scored 25 points in her team’s 45-30 win over visiting Onaway on Thursday.
Claire Huber added eight points.
Eagles capture conference crown after triple OT thriller with Lady Cards
JOHANNESBURG — Bellaire’s triumph over St. Mary last Tuesday set up a de facto Ski Valley Conference championship game with Johannesburg-Lewiston on Thursday.
Each team entered the matchup 15-1 overall and 12-1 in conference. With what was on the line, it wasn’t surprising to see how the game ended.
J-L and Bellaire played into three overtimes, where Bellaire’s Chloe Niepoth scored on a prayer put-back shot at the buzzer to lift the Eagles over the Cardinals 70-69 on the road.
With 1:15 left in the third OT, J-L’s Madison Showerman made one foul shot to snap a 68-68 tie and give the Cardinals a one-point edge.
J-L’s Kate Heidman stole the ball on Bellaire’s ensuing possession, but she couldn’t convert on two free throws after she was fouled on a lay up attempt.
The Eagles grabbed the rebound and had one remaining chance to win it all. Tiarra Clovis threw up a 3-pointer that missed, but she corralled her own rebound and immediately attempted another 3 with seven seconds left from the right side of the court.
That shot, too, missed, but the rebound was long to the left side. Niepoth pulled down the board and, all in one motion, heaved a desperation shot from an awkward angle that swished in as time expired.
The play ended J-L’s conference title hopes, but the team didn’t hang its head following the game.
"I told them that they played Lady Cards’ basketball tonight," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "They left it all on the floor and played with their whole heart. They never quit. They can be proud to call themselves Lady Cards tonight.
"They went after it on defense and played hard. They did everything right until the very end."
It’s hard to believe the way the game ended after watching J-L play in the first three quarters.
Bellaire’s Brandy O’Neal, playing just one game following her 27-point effort versus St. Mary, picked up where she left off Tuesday by scoring 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the opening 24 minutes against J-L.
The junior helped the Eagles garner a 40-32 advantage entering the fourth, but the Cardinals were resilient and fought for overtime.
J-L played defense the full length of the court. It consistently harassed Bellaire’s ball handlers and forced four turnovers in the process, playing especially tough in the final four minutes.
Madison Ewing stole the ball from the Eagles at mid court and turned it into a lay up that trimmed Bellaire’s lead to 44-41 with 3:30 left.
Sarah Korff, who missed her first five 3-point attempts, banged in a shot from beyond the arc to cut J-L’s deficit to two points one minute later.
O’Neal countered with a lay up and another two free throws, but J-L’s Kelsey Cherwinski hit a 3-pointer to make the score 50-49 in favor of Bellaire with 40 seconds remaining.
After Bellaire’s Madison Martinek made one foul shot in the bonus, J-L needed a desperation effort of its own to send the game into OT.
With eight seconds left, Cherwinski passed to Emily Aisthorpe into the post and the senior made a close shot as time expired, tying the game 51-51.
"We didn't play as well in the first three quarters, but they stepped it up in the fourth and got more productive on defense," Huff said.
"Emily Aisthorpe played her butt off tonight. She did a good job posting up and going hard to the basket."
J-L carried an early two-point lead in the first overtime until O’Neal made two free throws to tie it 56-56 with 43 seconds left. O’Neal then passed to Clovis for an open shot near the rim that put Bellaire up by two with nine seconds remaining.
But J-L again found Aisthorpe in the post for a buzzer beater that tied the game 58-58 for another OT.
In the second extra frame, O’Neal buried a shot for a 62-60 lead with 35 seconds remaining.
With 14 seconds left, however, Showerman scored on an acrobatic lay up that tied the game for the final OT.
"Maddy had been driving to her left all game," Huff said. "On that play, I told her to drive it to her right because she's stronger from the right. She did that and it paid off."
J-L carried a brief lead in the final OT for 1:15. It was only the second time it had led since the opening period.
Not sustaining the lead in OT while also not containing O’Neal, who finished with 35 points and five assists, ultimately lost the game for the Cardinals.
“O’Neal stepped up for them tonight," Huff said. "I know she did the other night against St. Mary. She did a good job, and her driving killed us.
"She would pick her dribble up and our girls would step back from her, and she'd go back at them. She only got called for a carry one time, but she drove to the basket hard and was very long."
Bellaire’s Clovis helped with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Niepoth had 10 assists and five rebounds.
Showerman led J-L with 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Aisthorpe had 19 points and four steals, and Cherwinski finished with eight assists.
• The win was especially impressive for Bellaire because it played without its best player, Leighton Koepke, for the last 13:25 of play.
Koepke scored eight points in the third quarter to keep Bellaire ahead of J-L, but she fouled out late in the fourth.
When the Cardinals pressured Bellaire’s ball handlers in the final four minutes, Koepke couldn’t handle J-L’s defense and had three of Bellaire’s four turnovers in the period.
She received her fourth foul with 1:45 left. Ten seconds later, J-L stole the ball from her and when Showerman went to capitalize on the turnover with a shot, Koepke fouled Showerman in frustration — forcing Koepke to leave the game with five fouls.
She finished with 12 points and five assists.
“She picked up her last two fouls within seconds of each other, and that was huge," Huff said. "It's too bad our defense wasn't playing like that earlier because Leighton was getting tired at that point.
“We continued to pressure her and forced her into making the mistakes she wasn't making earlier in the game. We wore her down some and kept rotating in more girls to keep us fresh against her."
• Before Thursday’s game, volunteers hosted a chili dinner to raise money for Gary House. House, a beloved member of the Johannesburg community, collapsed unexpectedly two weeks ago and has been recovering in the hospital ever since.
Proceeds from the dinner were used to help pay for House’s medical expenses.
The girls basketball team showed support of House by wearing “House Strong” warm up T-shirts before the game started. The Cardinals also wrote “#HouseStrong” in permanent marker on their right legs.
“They were playing in honor of and for the House family,” Huff said. “I thought they represented themselves in the same fighting manner as Gary who is fighting for his recovery.”
J-L (15-2, 12-2) visits Pellston for a Ski Valley game Tuesday before hosting Onaway on Thursday for its final conference game of the season. The Cardinals must win out to secure second place in the conference standings.
Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Taylor Kroll scored 15 points to lead the Cardinals to a 42-27 win over visiting Bellaire on Thursday.
J-L’s Deanna Miller and Claire Huber each scored seven points, and Brooke McKenney chipped in three.
Snowbirds upset undefeated Lady Cards in Rivals Rally thriller
GAYLORD — St. Mary’s Bekah Myler received her defensive assignment at halftime and was fired up to execute it.
The junior post player moved from defending the paint to guarding the wing in order to stop Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Madison Showerman, the Ski Valley’s leading scorer, from taking over the game.
Myler did just that, and the Snowbirds escaped with a 40-33 upset win over the visiting Cardinals in Tuesday’s Rivals Rally game in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
“We said we needed to put Bekah on her, and we didn’t want Showerman to beat us tonight,” said St. Mary coach Dan Smith, whose team is 13-3 overall and 10-2 in conference. “(Showerman) had a good hand in beating us the first go around (on Dec. 19).
“Bekah Myler worked her tail off for us, and that was a big task to be put on Showerman in the second half. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She shut her down in the third quarter completely.”
St. Mary and J-L scratched and clawed to a 21-21 tie at halftime.
Smith switched his team to man-to-man defense and relied on the athletic ability of his young, talented group of girls in the last 16 minutes.
The adjustment worked, as St. Mary guards Alex Hunter and Averi Bebble consistently harassed J-L’s ball handlers. The two forced four of the seven turnovers the Cardinals had in the third quarter and made it tough for J-L to run its offense.
The Cardinals were limited to 2-of-7 shooting in the period, and Myler said it was the freshmen’s ball pressure that helped her contain Showerman from getting scoring opportunities.
“We wanted to pressure the girl bringing up the ball to tire them out a little bit,” Myler said. “That was the game plan, and I think the ball pressure made it hard for them to pass the ball interiorly.”
Added Smith: “You can never have enough pressure on the perimeter. We’re just not going to be beat by teams that light it up outside, nor are we going to allow easy entry passes.”
St. Mary’s defensive grip loosened in the fourth quarter, but J-L lost all momentum and offensive rhythm to take advantage of its scoring chances. It was 3-of-13 down the stretch and trailed by as many as 10 points with two minutes remaining.
“We weren’t able to get our offense rolling, and that’s because of the turnovers,” J-L coach Heather Huff said. “I think people were trying to do too much instead of playing easy basketball.
“We told them at the end to get the ball into Maddy. I didn’t care if she scored every one of our last baskets.”
Myler led St. Mary with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Hunter scored 10 points and Giorgi Nowicki added six points and six rebounds.
The Snowbirds outscored J-L 19-12 in the second half. They made shots close to the basket and capitalized on J-L’s early foul trouble.
Showerman played most of the game with three fouls, while starting guard Mady Ewing fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Four Cardinals played with at least four fouls.
“When we got into foul trouble, we had to soften up our defense,” Huff said. “I think after that, we had a hard time getting back into it. I think our fouls got us out of our rhythm, and we didn’t get back into it.”
Showerman led all scorers with 18 points and five rebounds, Ewing chipped in eight points and Cherwinski had five.
The loss was the Cardinals’ first of the season and dropped them to 13-1 overall and 11-1 in the Ski Valley, putting them in a two-way tie with Bellaire for first place in the conference.
St. Mary, which sits comfortably in third place, wasn’t scared to face a J-L squad that was the top team in the league entering the game.
“We knew with good preparation this week, we could give them a good battle,” Smith said. “I told the girls yesterday that we were going to win this ball game, because we’re going to work hard, take care of the basketball and our shots were going to fall when they needed to, and that’s what happened.”
• Tuesday marked the fifth time St. Mary and J-L have played a Rivals Rally game. The two schools have raised over $80,000 to help fight cancer.
• St. Mary out rebounded J-L 31-25, with Bebble, the smallest player on the court, pulling down eight of those boards.
The freshman out jumped J-L’s post players for crucial defensive rebounds that halted the Cardinals’ from capturing extra offensive possessions.
“Averi Bebble has found herself a little niche with offensive rebounding,” Smith said. “She just knows how to attack the glass. She may not be the tallest kid, but she’s long. She’s got great timing, and she can jump. She’s a great athlete.”
• Across the stat sheet, both teams were nearly identical. Each finished with 11 assists, eight steals and 15 turnovers.
St. Mary shot 13-of-49 from the floor, while J-L was 13-of-48.
The fourth quarter (five points) was the only period with a point differential larger than two points.
• J-L opened the game on a 9-2 run before St. Mary took a 15-14 edge into the second quarter. The Cardinals grabbed the lead one more time before the Snowbirds held on tight in the second half.
St. Mary is off until it visits Bellaire for a crucial Ski Valley game Tuesday, Feb. 10. A win over the Eagles (13-1, 10-1) keeps the Snowbirds in the conference title hunt.
J-L visits Central Lake for a league game Thursday before hosting East Jordan for a non conference matchup Monday, Feb. 9.
“We have to beat Central Lake come Thursday,” Huff said. “We’re not going to take them lightly. We only beat them by 10 last time (on Jan. 7).
“We have to come back to beat Bellaire. We don’t like the way that losing feels, so this was a wake up call before districts.”
St. Mary forced 33 steals to beat Johannesburg-Lewiston 45-20 in a Ski Valley game Tuesday in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
Emma Jo Cherwinski led the charge for the Snowbirds (16-0), swiping nine steals, while Emily Myler and Olivea Jeffers each had seven.
Myler finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Maggie Schultz scored nine points, and Abbi Maybank and Jeffers each added eight.
J-L’s Taylor Kroll scored seven points, Claire chipped in six and Alyssa Bartle finished with four.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 67, Mancelona 22: Lady Cards remain undefeated after topping Ironmen
MANCELONA — Johannesburg-Lewiston’s girls basketball team improved its record to 11-0 overall and 9-0 in the Ski Valley Conference after besting host Mancelona 67-22 in a league matchup Friday.
The win put the Cardinals two games ahead of Bellaire in the league standings with only seven conference games remaining.
J-L’s win completed the home-and-home sweep of Mancelona this season.
The Cardinals host Forest Area on Tuesday for its next game.
Johannesburg-Lewiston defeated host Mancelona 40-17 in a Ski Valley matchup Friday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 79, Pellston 36: Showerman's 31 points leads Cards past Hornets
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston improved to 9-0 overall after it defeated visiting Pellston 79-36 in Ski Valley Conference girls basketball action Friday.
The Cardinals, who are also 7-0 in conference, had three players score in double figures, including Madison Showerman. The junior recorded 31 points, nine rebounds and shot 14-of-26 to lead her team.
J-L opened the game by scoring 28 points in the first quarter but mustered only two points in the second.
“We had a hard time getting going tonight, but the second half was better,” said J-L coach Heather Huff, whose team made halftime improvements and outscored Pellston 49-19 in the second half.
Also contributing for J-L, Mady Ewing scored 13 points, Sarah Korff chipped in 11 and Kelsey Cherwinski had eight. Ali Johnson grabbed nine rebounds, while Emily Aisthorpe had six.
As a team, J-L pulled down 44 rebounds, recorded 23 steals and shot 9-of-14 from the foul line.
The Cardinals play next when they visit Onaway (7-2) for a Ski Valley matchup Wednesday.
The loss dropped Pellston’s record to 0-7 overall and 0-5 in conference. It hosts Bellaire (7-1) for its next game Monday.
Cards control Ski Valley race with win against Bellaire
BELLAIRE — Johannesburg-Lewiston is in the driver’s seat of the Ski Valley Conference race after besting host Bellaire 61-54 and improving its record to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in conference Wednesday.
The Cardinals hold a two-game advantage over both Bellaire (7-1, 4-1) and Onaway (6-1, 4-1). If they can navigate the next 11 games of their schedule, they should be the favorite to win the league title in late February.
However, none of this would even be possible if it wasn’t for J-L’s Kelsey Cherwinski and her early- and late-game heroics against the Eagles.
Cherwinski, who finished with 18 points, poured in three 3-pointers and scored another basket to guide the Cardinals to a 25-16 lead in the first period.
Foul trouble held her scoreless until the fourth quarter, but that’s when she was brilliant yet again. The Eagles made three 3-pointers deep beyond the arc, including two by Bellaire’s Leighton Koepke, to shrink J-L’s lead late. But Cherwinski drained another 3-pointer and was 4-for-4 from the foul line down the stretch to help the Cardinals hold on for the win.
"It was a great game, and Kelsey was just making it happen," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "She was on when we needed her to be. She got into foul trouble and sat part of the second and third quarters, but the girls just followed along with her.
"To our credit, they were cutting into our lead, but we kept making our free throws. Kelsey hit another 3-pointer, and that was huge for us."
J-L's Madison Showerman led with 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Sarah Korff added nine points after nailing two 3-pointers and finishing 3-for-5 from the foul line. Cherwinski also recorded five steals.
Mady Ewing chipped in seven points, despite playing with a migraine.
"Mady played really well for being sick," Huff said. “When she came off the floor, she would sit on the bench with ice on her head."
The Cardinals shot 7-of-13 from the foul line.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 49, Central Lake 39: Cardinals stave off inconsistency, Trojans for sixth win
JOHANNESBURG — The recent two-week holiday vacation sidelined most girls basketball teams while the season was only three weeks young.
Wednesday marked the return for at least two of those teams, pitting Johannesburg-Lewiston and Central Lake against one another. But each squad learned quickly just how ugly the first game back form winter break can be.
J-L and Central Lake combined for 63 turnovers and each team missed over 30 shots, but it was the Cardinals, utilizing a strong defensive effort in the third quarter, that held on for the win, topping the visiting Trojans 49-39 in a sloppy but entertaining Ski Valley Conference game.
“I really hope it’s just us coming off of Christmas break, with us not being in sync,” J-L coach Heather Huff said. “We’d just get going and start turning it over again. There was no flow to the game, and we couldn’t get in sync.”
That showed in the first half.
The Cardinals, 6-0 overall and 5-0 in conference, started the game on a 7-0 run and didn’t allow Central Lake to score until 3:45 was left in the period. They forced 10 turnovers and held the Trojans to 2-of-9 shooting.
However, Central Lake used an 11-2 run of its own to open the second quarter and capture a 17-15 lead. It knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and capitalized on seven J-L turnovers.
The Cardinals scored eight points to finish the half, but it was clear they needed to make adjustments at halftime to earn the win.
“We talked at halftime that they had to box out, they had to rebound and they had to quit turning the ball over,” Huff said. “They were intimated a little bit by (Central Lake’s 5-foot-10 center, Allie Hines), and they were adjusting their shots a lot of the times when they didn’t need to (with Hines in the paint).”
Huff’s halftime speech worked, as the Cardinals opened the second half playing more aggressive — specifically in its full-court trap.
The trap forced Central Lake to commit 10 more turnovers in the third quarter, and J-L converted most of them into the 20 points it scored during the eight-minute stretch.
“That’s what they do, and that’s our Achilles heel,” said Central Lake coach Quinn Barry, whose team is 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the Ski Valley. “If we don’t throw the ball away, we can beat some people. Our problem is that we have to be able to slow down and handle the ball without panicking, and JoBurg makes you want to play faster than you want to play.”
Central Lake certainly played faster than it wanted to. It finished the game with 36 turnovers and never really found itself on offense. When it did break J-L’s press, sometimes Central Lake would rush shots or not run set plays in the half court.
Barry said that may have been a confidence issue, as his team is one that needs to sink a few shots early in games to find a rhythm offensively.
“We’ve got some kids, if they slow down and we get into a rhythm, we’ll be alright,” he said. “And with these kids, as much as anything, if they make a couple of shots in a row, we get a little confidence.”
The Cardinals had 27 turnovers of their own, but the 24 steals they recorded did create easy baskets for them near the rim.
J-L’s Madison Showerman scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Emily Aisthorpe added 12 points and four rebounds and Mady Ewing collected a team-best five steals. Kelsey Cherwinski pulled down five rebounds and had six assists.
Central Lake’s Haley Patton shot 7-of-9 for 12 points — mostly lay ups and easy shots near the basket — and had four steals. Haley Bearden scored eight points, and Emma Pierson and Carrissa Boni each had six rebounds.
• Central Lake was also limited after forward Delaney Buffman left the game with an ankle injury.
“She’s a good energy kid,” Barry said. “Not having her in the second half was a problem for us in the full court.”
• One thing that kept Central Lake in the game was its rebounding. The Trojans out rebounded J-L 31-28, often picking up second-chance opportunities after missed shots on offense.
• To further show how out of rhythm each team was after the winter break, the Cardinals shot an abysmal 1-for-15 from behind the 3-point line while the Trojans were 3-for-13.
• Despite its undefeated record, J-L was snubbed from the Associated Press’ most recent Class C Top 10 poll. Not only was it not in the top 10, it didn’t receive one single vote from members of the media.
However, that didn’t stop league-title contending Bellaire, and about 10 of its players, from scouting J-L during Wednesday’s game. Bellaire and J-L face each other Wednesday, Jan. 14, and the winner of the game should lead the conference race heading into March.
Central Lake hopes to snap its three-game losing skid when it hosts Mancelona for a league game Friday.
J-L looks to remain undefeated by beating its next opponent, visiting East Jordan, in non conference action the same night.
Johannesburg-Lewiston started fast and played well enough late to fend off visiting Central Lake 36-25 in a Ski Valley game Wednesday.
The Cardinals received help from Ellen Weaver’s 12 points, while Claire Huber chipped in nine and Taylor Kroll had five.
Central Lake’s Cybil Ritchie scored 12 points, and Victoria Guy and Leah Dawson each had five points.
Cards stymie young Snowbirds in rival matchup for the ages
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston had the size and strength advantage, the roster depth advantage and the experience advantage, but rival St. Mary made a game out of it anyway.
The Cardinals thwarted two St. Mary comeback attempts to defeat the visiting Snowbirds 60-53 in a Ski Valley Conference girls basketball game Friday and improve to 4-0 in the league for sole possession of first place.
St. Mary’s Giorgi Nowicki sank a pair of foul shots to cut J-L’s lead to 50-49 with three minutes left. Her team entered the quarter with a nine-point deficit and her effort nearly erased it all.
However, J-L’s Madison Showerman nailed two foul shots of her own minutes later and then drained a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to end what would have been St. Mary’s second comeback of the game.
It went down as the Snowbirds’ first loss of the season instead.
Now both squads enter winter break with a good understanding of where its at heading into the new year.
“It’s nice to get this win under our belt so we can spend the break not focusing on what we did wrong but looking forward and continuing to improve,” J-L coach Heather Huff said.
Had the Snowbirds pulled off the upset, the Cardinals would be spending the holidays with a different focus in mind.
St. Mary exited the first quarter with a 13-11 lead, but J-L used a 9-0 run to sprint away from the Snowbirds early in the second.
Showerman scored the first seven points of the quarter and assisted on the Cardinals’ other bucket, all while their defensive pressure kept St. Mary scoreless three minutes into the action.
They used full-court pressure and trapped St. Mary’s guards relentlessly to force turnovers and create points in transition.
“That was a composure building moment,” St. Mary coach Dan Smith said. “Their defensive pressure is tough, and obviously it caused us some turnovers.”
The ensuing five minutes played into St. Mary’s hands, however, as it limited J-L to only two points. It utilized a zone defense that neutralized J-L’s post players, both Showerman and Emily Aisthorpe.
The Snowbirds used a 9-2 run of their own to close out the period. With just over one minute left, St. Mary’s Gabby Schultz kissed in a 3-pointer off the glass to send both teams into the locker room tied 22-22 at halftime.
But it was the first score of that run that helped the Snowbirds the most.
“One bucket can help your composure tremendously, and that really was the difference,” Smith said. “It was an opportunity for our young team to grow up at that moment, and we did.
“Gabby hit the big 3 to close things out and to tie it 22-22. I couldn’t have been happier at that point.”
Smith’s smile didn’t last too long into the second half.
The Cardinals picked up their defensive intensity and made it a nightmare for St. Mary’s freshmen guards, Alex Hunter and Averi Bebble.
They outscored St. Mary 10-0 to open the third quarter.
Eight of those points came from J-L’s Kelsey Cherwinski, who poured in two consecutive 3-pointers and then scored from short range after collecting a steal off the trap.
“When Kelsey came out and hit those two 3’s and got the steal right away, I thought that was kind of the catalyst that got everything going,” Huff said.
When St. Mary did manage to make it across half court, the Snowbirds struggled to run its set offensive plays – and possessions ended with rushed shots or highly-contested lay up attempts.
St. Mary was fortunate to escape the third trailing by only nine points. Had it been a closer game then, that second comeback attempt may have come full circle.
“The beautiful thing is we get another shot at JoBurg later on in the season,” Smith said. “We have that familiarity under out belt with that trapping defense in the full court. If we can knock that out, it’ll be a great game.”
Every Cardinal saw extensive action to ensure their press’ intensity remained at a high level. That included Huff rotating in as many guards as she could to harass Hunter and Bebble.
“The girls dug deep, and I was able to keep rotating them all,” Huff said. “I kept my guards fresh because we knew we had to keep up the pressure on their guards and try to keep it out of Bekah (Myler)’s hands as much as possible.”
Aside from county bragging rights, the rivalry had another main event unfold throughout the game. The showdown paired Showerman and Myler, both tall forwards who standout as the Ski Valley’s best, against one another.
Showerman got the better of the matchup, however, as she finished with 20 points and was helped by her deep roster of teammates.
“They both have their strengths, and I think they both had a good game,” Huff said. “Maddy can hit the inside and the outside. She missed some easy ones in the first quarter. She would have made those on a normal day.”
Myler was limited to four points, but she made her presence felt by pulling down 16 rebounds.
“Bekah played a game that was very difficult for her to be successful in because whenever she touched the ball in the paint, there were two of them on her immediately with a third for help on the backside,” Smith said. “She was very well defended. JoBurg knew they wanted to stop Bekah, and they accomplished that tonight.”
J-L’s Aisthorpe, who scored most of her points in the post, and Mady Ewing each scored 12 points.
Hunter led St. Mary with 20 points, and Bebble had 14. Schultz also grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Cardinals, 5-0 overall, return from break with a pair of home games against Central Lake and East Jordan on Jan. 7 and 9.
The loss bumps St. Mary down to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Ski Valley. Its first game back is against Harbor Springs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, in Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
Despite losing to J-L, Smith said he was encouraged with his team.
“I’m very proud of our girls tonight and the effort of the whole team,” he said. “We had a chance to grow up today, and we did that. We got better today in a result to playing against a very good basketball team.”
St. Mary improved to 5-0 overall after it took care of host Johannesburg-Lewiston 42-31 in Ski Valley action Friday.
The Snowbirds’ Emily Myler scored 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the win, while Emma Jo Cherwinski scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and notched six steals.
Also contributing for St. Mary, Olivea Jeffers had eight points and eight steals, and Maggie Schultz scored eight points and had seven steals.
Taylor Kroll led the Cardinals with 11 points, and Ellen Weaver chipped in nine.
Cardinals blow past Inland Lakes in league tilt
Four Johannesburg-Lewiston girls basketball players scored in double figures during their teams 68-18 win over visiting Inland Lakes in a Ski Valley Conference matchup Wednesday.
Madison Showerman led the Cardinals with 16 points, while Emily Aisthorpe and Sarah Korff each scored 11 and Mady Ewing finished with 10. Kelsey Cherwinski and Faith Bartle both had seven points, while Cherwinski also had seven steals.
The Cardinals limited Inland Lakes to seven points or fewer in each quarter to improve to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the league.
Up next for J-L, it hosts rival St. Mary (4-0) for a Ski Valley clash at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 67, Mancelona 13: Pressure defense helps Cardinals put away Ironmen
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston used its defense to create offensive opportunities Tuesday.
The Cardinals girls basketball team utilized full-court pressure to take down visiting Mancelona 67-13 in a Ski Valley Conference matchup, forcing 23 steals that resulted in easy lay ups in transition.
"We played full-court press in the first quarter," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "Our defense was swarming, so we were getting quite a bit of steals and quick assists on transition baskets tonight."
Madison Showerman led J-L with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven steals, while Mady Ewing scored eight points, had seven steals and finished with seven assists.
Emily Aisthorpe scored 10 points, and Kelsey Cherwinski had six.
Also helping the Cardinals, Sarah Korff, Tiffany McDonald, Haley McVannel, Ali Johnson and Faith Bartle each scored four points.
"Emily Aisthorpe and Ali Johnson are coming on really strong," Huff said. "Emily is very physical and has been working on her post moves.
"Ali hasn't played basketball in a couple of years, but she's a senior and good athlete. Her best asset is that she posts up strong. She can seal very well. Rebounding, she's getting there and learning where to be when the ball goes up."
Huff said she was impressed with how well her reserve players performed in the second half, especially Bartle.
"Faith bartle did a good job working on her post moves tonight," Huff said. "She's about 5-foot-4, but she's physical and is working on getting herself open for some good looks."
The Ironmen struggled both offensively and defensively in part because it was missing two starters.
The Cardinals, 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Ski Valley, visit Forest Area for a league game at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12.
Mancelona (0-3, 0-1) travels to Bellaire for its next game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17.
Johannesburg-Lewiston limited its turnovers to defeat visiting Mancelona 52-10 in a Ski Valley game Tuesday.
Claire Huber led the Cardinals with 12 points, two assists and two steals, while her team finished with only 12 turnovers.
Deanna Miller and Brooke McKenney each scored seven points. Ellen Weaver, Kaitlyn Huff and Taylor Kroll added six points apiece.
Miller also had five steals.
"I was impressed on how we held our composure in the first quarter," J-L coach Brett McVannel said. "We came out and missed some easy shots, but we never put our heads downs.
"We had balanced scoring and moved the ball around very well."
The Cardinals (1-1) visit Forest Area for their next game at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12.
Johannesburg-Lewiston had seven of its 11 players see varsity action for the first time ever on opening night Tuesday.
But that didn't slow down the defensive-minded Cardinals, which rolled to a 52-34 win over visiting Fairview in J-L's own gym.
J-L forced 18 steals against the Eagles, and Madison Showerman led the way with 20 points and seven rebounds.
"Our defense really kicked in in the second quarter, and Maddy Showerman went 5-of-9 from the floor in the second," J-L coach Heather Huff said. "We came out swarming on defense, and Mady Ewing had five steals."
Ewing, along with Sarah Korff, also added 10 points. Emily Aisthorpe kicked in six points, Kelsey Cherwinski had four and Tiffany McDonald scored one bucket.
After carrying a 47-18 advantage into the fourth quarter, J-L relaxed its pressure and used the remainder of the game to work on other parts of its game.
"We pulled back and worked on some zone defense and things we've been wanting to work on the rest of the game," Huff said. "I was pleased with all of the girls' performances."
The Cardinals (1-0) begin Ski Valley Conference play when they host Mancelona at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, for their second game of the season.
Talented roster should help Johannesburg-Lewiston navigate light schedule
JOHANNESBURG — A district title isn't out of the question for Johannesburg-Lewiston this season.
The girls basketball team only lost two major pieces, Brittany Cherwinski and Hailey Weaver, from last year's squad, and the only improvement it must make is how well it performs against bigger and better Class C teams in the postseason.
Cherwinski was a floor leader for the Cardinals for four years. Whether it was scoring from the post or making intermediate-range shots, she was good for double figures shooting each night. She finished her career on the Herald Time's All-Area First Team and is currently a freshman on the Alpena Community College women's basketball team.
Weaver provided the length J-L needed around the rim. At about 6-foot-1, there weren't many players in the Ski Valley Conference who could out rebound her. For example, while Cherwinski finished with 28 points in J-L's home finale last season, Weaver contributed by grabbing 16 of the team's 55 rebounds.
Both players will be missed this year, but the Cardinals return a host of talented players from last season. They also have a crop of newcomers who could help them get out of their district in February.
Back are Madison Showerman, Kelsey Cherwinski, Madison Ewing and Emily Aisthorpe. Showerman was also a First Team player last season and will probably compete against St. Mary's Bekah Myler and Bellaire's Leighton Koepke as the top player in the Ski Valley this year.
Recent transfer Ali Johnson headlines the newcomers. The senior was a 6-foot-1 standout for Kristine Peppin's volleyball team this past fall and could add even more physical ness with Showerman down low. She should step in and fill the void left behind when Weaver graduated.
The Cards also add Samantha Morehouse, Haley McVannel, Kate Heidman, Sarah Korff, Faith Bartle and Tiffany McDonald from last year's junior varsity.
With the personnel set, everything sets up well for J-L to make a run in the postseason. It's only question mark is if it can hang with bigger schools. The Cardinals fell to a Class C team in Elk Rapids in the district semifinal last season and may not face a school of that talent at all during the regular season this year.
Aside from playing against Mancelona and Inland Lakes during the Ski Valley portion of its schedule, the only other Class C school J-L will face is East Jordan. The Ski Valley's Class D teams shouldn't provide them with much competition — beside the likes of St. Mary and Bellaire — and neither should its two other non conference opponents in Fairview and Boyne Falls.
The Cardinals will be playing down in almost every game it enters. If they want to do damage in the postseason, it must not take that for granted and somehow find a way to get past bigger teams such as Glen Lake, Traverse City St. Francis and Grand Traverse Academy.
J-L opens its season against Fairview at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, at home.
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