By ERIC FORTUNE
For the Star Beacon
It certainly wasn’t the luck of the draw for the Grand Valley Mustangs coming into their showdown with the Brookfield Warriors in a Division III sectional matchup.
If the overall success the Warriors have had this season wasn’t already daunting, couple that with the fact that just this past Friday, the Mustangs had already suffered a 29-point setback to this same Brookfield squad.
So, for Grand Valley coach Luke Strohm, there wasn’t much turnaround to clean up what went wrong that night as the Mustangs fell again to the Warriors, this time 77-44.
Early on Mustangs (4-19) looked to have some answers by countering the Warriors’ press with a bit of a press of their own as they jumped to a 5-1 advantage and for most of the opening quarter matching what the Warriors were doing before Brookfield closed out the quarter on a 14-4 run.
“It was fresh in our memories,” Strohm said. “We were able to run some things offensively, that we executed a little bit better coming out of the gates and dealing with their half court pressure.
“We wanted to try and come out and pressure them a bit just to see what we could come up with. It was something we definitely didn’t try last Friday.”
If there ever was a time for Grand Valley to make matters interesting, it would have been in that second quarter as the Warriors (19-4) were playing their seventh game in 14 days.
Any fatigue the Warriors might have had, didn’t rear its head as all five starters for Brookfield got into the scoring action to open up an 18-point advantage heading into halftime.
Jeremy Quinlan did most of the damage in this frame with six points as he finished with a game-high 22 points as he and his brother Jimmy were every where on the court with eight assists and five steals between them.
Coming out of halftime, the Mustangs got hot for a bit with three of their seven 3s coming in the quarter as they matched the Warriors scoring but couldn’t get any closer than 15 in the quarter.
Josh Kovats was big in the quarter with two of his three 3s coming in the quarter as he led the Mustangs with 15 points.
“We might have taken things for granted,” Kovach said. “We knew they were a team that shoots a lot of 3s. We gave up quite a few tonight. I thought we played well enough to win. It wasn’t what I expected, but I’m happy with the win.”
For Strohm, by the time his team started making buckets consistently and eliminated some of their turnovers, it was too late.
“We wanted to be able to execute more precisely on offense,” Strohm said. “We had a handful of possessions coming out of halftime which allowed us to play even.
“By that point though, a lot of the damage had already been done.”
Fortune is a freelance writer from McDonald.