Wayland senior Karli Warning (2) is seen providing defensive pressure to Sparta’s Carley Andrews. The Wildcats forced 37 Spartan turnovers in the game. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Wildcats use defensive pressure to upend Sparta

Jason Wesseldyk

Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving.
But the Wayland girls’ basketball team seemed to be in more of a taking mood in an opening-round game of the Cornerstone University High School Holiday Tournament on Monday, Dec. 21.
Because the Wildcats took away the ball from the Spartans time after time after time after … well, you get the idea.
The bottom line is Wayland forced 37 Sparta turnovers and converted the majority of those into points as it posted the 70-36 victory.
With the win, coach Marty Howard’s Wildcats improved to 4-1.
“Our defensive pressure is one of the keys for us,” Howard said. “We didn’t really have a good scouting report on (Sparta), but we scrimmaged them a couple of times during the summer in Otsego and we knew they were down a little bit. So we wanted to come right out and make it tough on them early so they didn’t get their confidence going.”
And get after the Spartans early is exactly what Wayland did.
The Wildcats’ full-court press resulted in 15 first-quarter turnovers by Sparta, which managed only six field goal attempts and two free throw attempts in the stanza. That allowed Wayland to build a 26-11 lead at the end of opening period.
Ali Cutler and Ali Martus led the offensive charge for the Wildcats during that span, scoring nine and eight points during the first eight minutes of play.
Cutler went on to score a game-best 21 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“Ali had a great game for us,” Howard said of Cutler. “She’s one of the girls we really rely on to get us going offensively. She’s been struggling with her outside shot a little bit, so it was nice to see her knock down some threes.
“She and Ali Martus are kind of our go-to players when we need a basket and they both stepped up early for us.”

For full story, pick up a copy of the December 24 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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