MANLIUS – The final score may not look close, but Bureau Valley coach Tiffany Gonigam came away encouraged from Thursday night’s 49-27 loss to Fulton.
After trailing by 16 at halftime, the Storm bounced back to outscore the Steamers in the third quarter and then cut the deficit down to within 10 points in the fourth quarter.
The Storm got back into the game behind the hot shooting of senior guards Shannon Reuter and Krista Naaktgeboren. A three-pointer from Naaktgeboren with 5:23 remaining made it 37-27 and forced a timeout from Fulton coach Jesse Abbott.
“We came out better in the second half,” said Gonigam. “Krista hit a three and Shannon started hitting some shots in a row. All of a sudden (Fulton) called a timeout and it was a 10-point ballgame. That was one of the proudest moments I’ve had all season because I know Fulton is a good team and they have beaten some good teams in our conference.”
Fulton (8-15, 3-5) regrouped after the time-out and went on to score the final 12 points of the ballgame to pull away. Morgan Sanquist had the biggest shot of the night for the Steamers, nailing a three from the left wing against the Storm’s 1-3-1 zone. It was the first time BV played zone the entire night.
Four different players went to the free-throw line for the Steamers after the Sanquist three, hitting 5 of 7 attempts down the stretch.
“Credit to (Bureau Valley), they made shots,” said Abbott. “We sagged a little bit and didn’t play as hard as we had been playing. To their credit, they knocked them down. We picked it up a little bit more towards the end there and put a little more pressure on them. That frustrated them a little more.”
Abbott said the Storm coming out in a man-to-man defense, instead of zone, to start the game, contributed to his team’s slow start. He expected a zone defense after watching the Storm play it almost exclusively at the Erie Christmas Tournament.
The slow start resulted in the Steamers not scoring for the first 2:30 of the game. A free throw from Lacey DeVenney and a putback from Katelin Johnson put BV up 3-0.
Morgan Wierema got Fulton on the board with a three-point play and followed that with another score with a drop step in the post. She would be a tough matchup for the Storm inside and scored 13 of her game-high 15 points in the first half.
Offensively, it was a tough shooting first half for the Storm as they managed just two field goals and fell behind 24-8. Gonigam said she didn’t give her team their shooting stats in the locker room at the half. Instead, she simply challenged them to shoot better.
Using a more up-tempo offense in the second half, the Storm started to get into a rhythm and the shots started falling. Irini Petros, Nicole Bornsheuer, Devenney, Naaktgeboren and Reuter all scored in the period. Reuter hit back-to-back shots, both nothing but net from the left wing, in the final 1:30 to make it 34-20.
“I thought we matched up really well with them,” said Gonigam. “The Wierema girl is a really big threat for them. With Nicole and some of our other posts I thought we matched up well inside. We came out and started shooting the ball more, and then in the second half started to make some shots, and that was really big for us.”
Reuter’s six points was a team-high for the Storm. Heaven Bennett only scored two points, but she contributed in other ways with eight rebounds and four steals. Petros also had four steals.
• Fulton won the sophomore game 37-22. Regan Weidner scored eight points and Savanna Dean tallied four points for BV.