Eagles dominate early to topple Wildcats

Gresham buckles under pressure

Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Gresham Community School freshman Makayla Belongia is blocked by Menominee Indian’s Alyssa Corn during Tuesday’s 66-21 loss.

Gresham buckled under pressure and allowed Menominee Indian to maintain its early lead and win the nonconference matchup 66-21 on Tuesday.

Gresham head coach Vaughn Miller knew handling pressure would be his team’s problem after its loss to Tri-County on Nov. 16.

“I saw that pattern against Tri-County, so I knew it was going to be tough coming in, and we worked on it last week,” he said. “You could see tonight as soon as they pressed us, they’d panic and just throw the ball, so we have a lot of things to work on.”

The Lady Eagles (2-0) welcomed the Lady Wildcats to their court with an 11-0 drive. Gresham found the bucket after a four-minute drought from a jumper by Makayla Belongia. Mackenzie Hoffman added another basket for the Lady Wildcats and they wouldn’t find the basket for another 10 minutes.

Menominee Indian, meanwhile, put up 23 points in that 10-minute span, including 3-point shots from Taylor Olson, Tennile Lyons, and two from Mercedes Waupoose.

Tiana Ferguson went 2-for-2 at the free-throw line for Gresham and Shanae Wynos matched with two free throws to end the half 36-6.

Gresham (0-2) started more aggressively in the second half with a bucket in the first minute. They put 13 more points on the board, more than double the first half, but couldn’t keep up with the Lady Eagles, who added 30 second-half points.

“We need to be tough,” Miller said. “We showed up to this game afraid. Everything that we said we needed to fix in order to win, we came out and did. We played soft, they out-hustled us. They stifled us right from the get-go.

“We knew exactly what they were going to do, so they didn’t catch us off guard or anything. That was the issue in our first game, too. We weren’t tough enough. We got pushed around and punked, for lack of a better word.”

Menominee Indian head coach Chris Rice was impressed with his team’s aggression on the court.

“We got after the ball and our trapping defense and full court press, we were flying all over the court getting some steals, tipping a lot of balls,” he said. “Those were a lot of things that lead to a easy buckets for us. We stress attacking on defense, and then that transitions on offense for us.”

Rice still sees room for improvement, though.

“We really need to stress our fundamentals. Our passing needs to be cleaned up. Rebounding, we need to get to the boards better. And we need to get to the free-throw line and convert at a higher percentage than what we have been converting at.”

Miller points to rebounding as one of his team’s main struggles.

“We definitely didn’t rebound well off the back side of our zone,” he said. “I didn’t think our guards were active enough around the perimeter to deter 3-point shots.”

Despite the loss, Miller saw several positive takeaways.

“A lot of the bench players came in and showed a lot of energy in the second half,” he said. “I was happy that we didn’t completely quit, that was good to see.”

Mercedes Waupoose and Faith Munson each tallied 11 points to lead Menominee Indian. Shanae Wynos and Antonette Waukau each followed with eight points. The Lady Eagles shot 14 of 26 at the line, including 3 of 3 from Munson.

Gresham’s Makayla Belongia led with six points and Destiny Reindl followed with five. The team was 6 of 11 at the free-throw line.

Menominee Indian (66)

Lyons 1 2-2 5; Okimosh 1 0-0 2; Olson 1 0-0 6; Wynos 0 2-7 8; A. Waukau 3 2-2 8; Waupoose 3 0-2 11; A. Corn 1 2-2 6; Wayka 1 1-4 1; Munson 0 3-3 11; Maulson 4 0-0 2; J. Corn 0 2-4 6.

Gresham (21)

Belongia 1 2-2 6; Ferguson 2 2-3 4; M. Hoffman 4 0-2 2; Reindl 0 0-0 5; Jones 2 2-4 2; Davids 3 0-0 2.

Menominee Indian 36 30 — 66

Gresham 6 15 — 21