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Gremlins fall to Saginaw Nouvel

March 15, 2013
By Brandon Veale ( , Daily Mining Gazette


EAST LANSING The Houghton girls' basketball team couldn't make

enough shots to have a shot Thursday.

Spending most of their Class C state semifinal with a shooting

percentage in the teens, the Gremlins were dismissed from the Breslin

Fact Box

Houghton 6 6 10 10 32

Nouvel 15 8 11 10 44

Houghton - Elisa Jurmu 11, Alexa Johnson 11, Kelsie Richards 4, Blaire

Zenner 3, Sydney Dillinger 3; FT: 6-11; Fouls: 12; Fouled out: none;

3-point field goals: Johnson 3, Dillinger 1.

Saginaw Nouvel Rachel McInerney 16, Taylor Hengesbach 13, nicole

Buckingham 6, Lindsay Stroebel 4, Laurel Jacqmain 3, Alex Joynt 2; FT:

7-13; Fouls: 9; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Hengesbach 1.

Center by Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central, 44-32.

"We thought we got some good opportunities to shoot in the first half

from 15 feet and out but again, it was a tough shooting performance

for us, our worst of the year and I really do think their defensive

efforts affected that," Houghton coach Julie Filpus said.

With the luxury of all-state forward Taylor Hengesbach, a 5-foot-10

senior, 5-9 sophomore Rachel Buckingham and 6-2 junior Rachel

McInerney in the frontcourt, the Panthers (25-2) settled into a 2-3

zone defense and challenged Houghton to shoot them out of it. Instead,

the Gremlins (23-3) gave the Panther frontcourt many opportunities to

collect rebounds.

McInerney had 12 defensive rebounds, as part of a comprehensive

double-double of 16 points and 17 boards.

"They're tough post players and we tried our best to front and to just

stop them, but they're good all-around basketball players," Houghton

senior Blaire Zenner said.

She and junior Elisa Jurmu drew the unenviable assignment of matching

them on both ends. Houghton used lanky sophomore guard Sydney

Dillinger to keep Nouvel from using most traditional post moves, but

it was only so effective, as their trio combined for 35 of Nouvel's 44


"They did a really good job of closing down the post. There was always

three girls closing down as soon as possible. We had to adjust to it

and pass more to the outside. I just had to work as hard as I could to

get steals and rebounds," McInerney said.

Houghton's fate may have been sealed early. The Panthers, who averaged

32.9 points against per game this season, scored the first 11 points

over the initial 4:44. In the same stretch, the Gremlins had five

misses (three from outside the arc) and three turnovers.

Filpus said the game-opening run wasn't about nerves as it was about


"We handled their pressure. They might have forced a couple of

turnovers in the first half, but the part that frustrated us is we

feel we have a good in side-outside attack and their length really

affected our inside attack," she said.

Jurmu broke the drought by driving hard to the hoop for an and-one

with 3:01 left in the first quarter. The Gremlins' top scoring threat

went hard at McInerney all night, but the junior repelled many of

them, recording all five of her blocks on Jurmu shot attempts.

Jurmu still co-led Houghton in scoring with 11 points, but five were

free throws. She went 3-for-16 from the field.

Houghton's offense found a gear late in the first and into the second,

closing to within 17-10 at the midpoint, but Nouvel expanded its lead

to 13 late (11 at the half), forcing the Gremlins to hope for a

second-half run that never quite materialized.

The latter periods were fairly even, but the Gremlins couldn't take

the second digit off the Panthers' lead until the last two minutes.

Alexa Johnson was the other co-leader for Houghton's offense, knocking

down three second-half triples en route to her 11. She, Zenner and

Ashley Laux got a chance to make their final varsity appearances on

the state's biggest stage, a fact that didn't go unrecognized.

"It's honestly surreal just being here. Just being here is a blessing

and we've cherished every minute of it," Zenner said.



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