Montague’s girls basketball team used a big fourth quarter to rally past host Comstock Park and give Nick Thaler a victory in his head-coaching debut Tuesday night, 45-38.
The Wildcats (1-0) trailed 32-31 through three quarters but outscored the Panthers (0-1) by a 14-6 margin in the final frame of the nonleague battle.
Claire Meacham paced Montague with 18 points, followed by Kendall Osborne with 11 and Haylee Schwarz with 10.
Thaler said both teams played through some first-game jitters for most of the first half. The turning point for the Wildcats came during the third quarter, when they got a steal and converted into a basket and three-point play.
“That really changed the momentum for us in a grind-it-out, physical game,” Thaler said. “The real key for us was getting to the foul line. Being aggressive is something we preach within our offense and getting to the line 23 times in a ball game is helpful comparing it to Comstock Park’s five.”
Montague dominated Comstock Park on the boards as well, finishing with a 35-15 advantage on the glass.
Aliyah Durry led the Panthers with 12 points.
Thaler highlighted Meacham for her work in the paint and Osborne for getting the Wildcats organized. He called it a “great team win” in which everyone contributed, as everybody followed the game plan of attacking the basket.
“Comstock Park has been a great program for a while. Coach (Beth) Hull does a nice job with that program and they do things the right way. They are going to have a really nice season,” said Thaler, who previously served as head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant for the Grand Haven boys program.
“As for me, I was anxious and nervous the entire day. I have won a district championship as a player and as an assistant and I was way more nervous for this game than those. It’s all about the players. They sacrifice so much for us as coaches; yes, we give them the plan and how to attack, but for us as a program it’s, ‘Forget about me, I love you.’”
Montague opens West Michigan Conference play this Friday with a game at Oakridge.
ALLENDALE 35, WHITEHALL 29: At Allendale, an inexperienced Whitehall team lost its season opener Tuesday night in nonleague action. The teams were tied at 13 at halftime. The Vikings trailed 25-23 after three quarters.
Charley Klint 7 points, 13 rebounds
Lola Buckner 6 points
Ravenna at Whitehall, 7 p.m. Friday
Allendale at Hopkins, 7 p.m. Tuesday
NEWAYGO 47, SHELBY 26: At Newaygo, Shelby held a 10-4 lead after the first quarter but last year’s Division 2 runner-up picked it up in the final three quarters to cruise to the nonleague win Tuesday.
Kendall Zoulek 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Molli Schultz 5 points
Aubrey Klotz 5 points
Ella Olmstead 4 points, 5 rebounds
Lauren Brown 10 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal
Jaxi Long 24 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals
Emmerson Goodin 15 points, 9 rebounds
North Muskegon at Shelby, 7 p.m. Friday
Whitehall at Newaygo, 7 p.m. Tuesday
SPARTA 41, OAKRIDGE 23: At Oakridge, Sparta used 13-2 and 14-7 scoring advantages in the first and third quarters, respectively, to pull away for the nonleague win in Tuesday’s season opener for both teams.
Anna Lundquist 11 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks
Destyni Lane 6 points
Montague at Oakridge, 7 p.m. Friday
Greenville at Sparta, 7 p.m. Friday
COOPERSVILLE 31, RAVENNA 20: At Ravenna, the host Bulldogs fell into an 18-6 halftime hole and could not recover in a nonleague game against neighboring Coopersville to open the season Tuesday.
Alexis McMahon 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals
Emma Gillard 4 points, 7 rebounds
Kara Postema 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals
Hope Hulka 6 rebounds, 4 steals
Kendra Postema 5 rebounds, 2 steals
Johnson 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Sietsema 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
Ravenna at Whitehall, 7 p.m. Friday
Coopersville at Hastings, 7 p.m. Friday
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