Strong defense carries Bay Port over Pulaski
By Greg Bates
SUAMICO – From Day 1 of practice, a major emphasis for the Bay Port girls’ basketball team has been defense.
With the game tied at 26-26, Bay Port allowed Pulaski to score only three points in the final 6 minutes, 41 seconds to pull off a 34-29 victory in Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) play.
Pulaski finished with more turnovers (nine) than made field goals (seven).
“Our defense is one of the key things we try to increase the energy on the court, and it did that tonight,” Bay Port Head Coach Dennis Gladwell said. “Switching back and forth on the types of defenses we were running tonight, gave them trouble.”
Bay Port sophomore Ellie McDermid clogged the lane defensively as her teammates on the perimeter slowed down the Pulaski offense.
“We played good defense,” McDermid said. “We were communicating and playing together, which helps. We played well as a team.”
Gladwell said the win was important with half the regular-season schedule still left to play.
“We’ve got to start playing better basketball,” he said. “When we get to play games like this against good opponents like Pulaski — we played against De Pere and Notre Dame as well and that helps us get to a point. Then we played (Green Bay) Southwest well, and those are four hard teams in our conference and we’re all up at the top. When you can come out with two wins out of those four, I feel good about that.”
Pulaski had a depleted bench for the game with four players out with sickness or injury.
The Red Raiders’ tallest player, Sydney Gwidt at 6-foot-0, didn’t play.
“We were without a bunch of kids, and at the same time, our kids stepped up,” Pulaski Head Coach Doug McElrone said. “Our tallest kid was 5-foot-9, and they’ve got 6-2, 6-1, 6-foot, and we give up 34 points. That says a ton about our kids.”
Neither team shot the ball well.
Bay Port finished 13-for-44 (29%), and Pulaski was 7-for-28 (25%).
In the opening half, the Red Raiders hit one field goal in the first 17 minutes and 28 seconds, but only trailed 15-11 at the break.
McDermid said the team’s talk at halftime centered around continuing to play solid defensively and get into more of a flow on offense.
“We needed to slow down on offense and work as a team together,” she said.
McDermid hit a shot to put Bay Port (6-6, 5-3 FRCC) up 26-18 with 9:37 remaining in the second half.
With Pulaski (5-8, 3-5 FRCC) having made four field-goal attempts up to that point, an eight-point lead appeared insurmountable.
However, Sophie Majewski drained a 3-pointer, and Maggie Lardinois scored five straight points to pull the Red Raiders even at 26-26 with 6:41 on the clock.
McDermid — who scored a game-high 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting and capped a double-double with 10 rebounds — converted a hoop inside to put her team up 28-26 with 6:24 left.
With Bay Port leading 28-27, Pulaski had several good looks at the basket but couldn’t convert.
Jackie Szelagowski was fouled with 28.6 remaining and sank both free throws.
After a missed shot by Pulaski, Kaitlyn Fischer hit two free throws for Bay Port and it was 32-27.
Olivia Kubiak made her only basket of the game to pull the Red Raiders within three, 32-29, with 6.1 seconds on the clock.
A pair of free throws by Maggie Luedke sealed the win as Bay Port hit all six of its free throws in the final 28.6 seconds.
Gladwell said he liked the way his girls responded down the stretch after Pulaski had come back to tie the score.
“We held our pose,” he said. “We didn’t get flustered when we got them back into the game. We’re a strong team, and when our backs are up against the wall, they’re going to fight.”
With the win, Bay Port is now tied for third place in the conference race.
“We’ve got to keep doing the good things, find those small things we need to work on and increase on those things and it’s going to help us out tremendously,” Gladwell said.