By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – It may have taken the West De Pere girls’ basketball a little bit to get rolling, but once it did, it was tough to stop.
Behind a big second half, the Phantoms rolled to a 50-29 nonconference victory over Bay Port on Nov. 28.
West De Pere led 22-17 at intermission before outscoring the Pirates 28-12 in the second half.
“We were sloppy to start, but all in all, it was a solid defensive effort,” West De Pere Coach Chris Abaray said. “We wanted to take (Bay Port’s Ellie) McDermid out of the game, and we did a good of that most of the time.”
McDermid, a Division I commit to Bradley University, was limited to eight points.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Bay Port Coach Adam Lemorande said. “We want to get the ball inside to Ellie, but every coach is going to key on her, which makes it difficult. I thought we’d play a little better than that.”
The Phantoms (4-0) got points from eight players, including 13 from Madisyn Berggren, 10 from Faith Walder and eight from Alexa Rattray.
As part of her night, the sophomore Rattray nailed a pair of first-half three-pointers – the second which gave West De Pere the lead for good a few minutes before halftime.
“I thought I played well,” Rattray said. “My teammates encourage me and help me get out of my slumps. If I make a mistake, they bring me up.”
Alexa’s sister, Anna, a junior, also hit a three-pointer in the second half.
“My sister Anna and I connect well,” Alexa said. “She encourages me a lot, too.”
With Bay Port (0-2) leading 17-15, the Phantoms ended the first 18 minutes on a 7-0 run to grab the momentum heading into the locker room.
“I was happy with how we started, especially defensively and with our effort,” Lemorande said.
“But then we just couldn’t make any shots in the second half.”
West De Pere began the second half with a 15-4 surge to put the game away.
“I told the girls at halftime we had to move the ball better,” Abaray said. “In the second half, we played well defensively, and that spurred our offense. We made the extra pass (in the second half), whereas, in the first half, it was one pass and a shot. Later on, it was three or four passes and a shot.”
The Phantoms are without the services of junior Ella Francois, who Abaray said tore her ACL late in the summer.
In Francois’ absence, Green Bay Preble transfer Mia Racine gives West De Pere an inside presence.
“Mia is a nice addition to the program and a nice fit,” Abaray said. “She gives us that anchor in the middle size-wise we haven’t had in a while.”
The Phantoms are off to a perfect start, but Abaray said his squad isn’t resting on its laurels.
“We’re not settling,” he said. “You can start hot, but you’re preparing for the tough winter of games ahead. These girls are getting after it in practice – I’m proud of their effort and togetherness.”
Payton Dudra led the Pirates with nine points, while Chole Tebon hit a pair of three-pointers.