By Calli Newberry
The young North Branch High School girls basketball team picked up a pair of wins this week, putting them at 4-2 on the season. This sets the Broncos up well for another conference matchup tonight against Armada on their home court.
“We’re definitely a younger team, I don’t have any seniors,” head coach Tim Gormley said. “I’ve got four girls that play on varsity that we play down on JV, some will play one quarter, some will play two quarters, it just depends on who we’re playing.”
His varsity squad consists of five juniors, three sophomores, and two freshmen. With such a young and small team, he said he’s been able to use the fifth quarter rule a lot so far this season, allowing JV players to come up for varsity games.
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Leading into Tuesday’s game against Richmond on the road, the Broncos were coming off a long break from competition, with their last game being Dec. 17 against Algonac, where they fell by three, 39-36.
“With Richmond, the girls had a little bit more chemistry. They’re starting to figure out where each other is and working together. We were a little bit more patient on offense, that helped us out,” Gormley said. “Defense again was strong and kept our turnovers down. In fast-break transition we tend to throw the ball away a lot, so we did better.”
Despite their strong offense early on, their defensive strength proved to be key in Tuesday’s victory.
“In the first half, we got out to a really good lead, we pressed right off the bat, and that helped. The first half of that game offensively was not bad. Probably one of our better games,” Gormley said. “They ended up coming out in the second half and put a little half-court press on us and…we just kind of had a meltdown on offense in the second half, but our defense stayed strong and kept us in it.”
Gormley said the Broncos scored 16 points in the second half – all of which came from the free-throw line.
“I think we shot 64% at a team from the free-throw line,” he said.
North Branch was able to walk away with a 39-27 victory, returning home with boosted confidence for a non-conference matchup with Mt. Morris who came to town on Wednesday.
“Mt. Morris was missing four of their starters, so it was sort of a practice game for us really,” Gormleys said. “We worked on defensive transition, changing up the defensive on the fly and getting girls used to having different looks up and down the court. Just going through everything, different combinations of girls.”
The Broncos held a 33-13 lead at the half and extended it to a 58-29 victory by the buzzer. Junior guard Bailey Gormley led the team with 15 points. This was their largest win of the season, as their first four games were decided by just three or four points.
North Branch will host Armada tonight at 7 p.m. The Tigers also stand at 2-1 in the BWAC and have a 5-3 overall record.