EagleHerald Sports Editor
MARINETTE—Emma Gilligan’s long-range shooting and a game-high 21 points from Sydney Lund helped the Peshtigo girls basketball team spoil opening night for Marinette, as the Bulldogs handled the Marines 63-29 on Thursday.
Gilligan knocked down four 3-pointers in the first half to help Peshtigo (2-0) build a 33-16 lead at halftime. She finished with 15 points, going a perfect five-for-five from beyond the arc.
Gilligan has started the season on fire, drilling five triples in Peshtigo’s 58-55 season-opening win over Wittenberg-Birnamwood on Tuesday.
“She’s a very streaky but the last two games, she’s been spot-on. She hit four in a row against Wittenberg and what a boost that is to the team. So, did I see this (tonight’s performance) coming? Not at all,” Peshtigo coach Lance Pesch said.
Lund poured in 11 points in the second half as the Bulldogs outscored Marinette (0-1) by a 30-13 margin.
Hannah Chenier led Marinette with 10 points and was the only Marine to hit double-digits.
Chenier and Lindsey Wingender, who finished with eight points, are the only players who boast extensive varsity experience for Marinette.
Gwyn Hanson, Rylee Hansen, Wynn Erdman and Kylie Veriha saw time on the varsity level last season, albeit in limited roles, while freshmen Bryanna Torkko, Kaya Bodom, Natalie Poquette, Chloe Seymour and Olivia Hanson all made their varsity debuts against the Bulldogs.
“You could tell that this was our first game of the year. We showed potential at certain spots but we couldn’t sustain it and Peshtigo took advantage,” Marinette coach Zac Barker said. “Peshtigo is a very experienced group with two talented players on their squad. Our lack of varsity experience definitely showed at times.”
Marinette found itself down 9-4 to start the game before Torrko nailed a 3-pointer and Wingender added a mid-range jumper to cut Peshtigo’s lead to three.
Gilligan’s 3-point barrage along with a bucket from Brooklyn Phillips put the Bulldogs on top 27-16 before the Marines got into foul trouble, with Lund, Jaci Tonn and Akira Smalls going a combined 6-8 from the free-throw line to end the first half.
The Marines showed signs of life to start the second half after Chenier scored back-to-back unanswered baskets before Lund reeled off eight straight points of her own to push Peshtigo’s advantage to 21 points.
A pair of triples from Wingender and Poquette could not help Marinette dig out of its hole, and Peshtigo’s defense limited the Marines to just two points in the final three minutes to secure the victory.
Torrko finished with five points, Poquette chipped in three, Gwyn Hanson scored two and Veriha added one.
“We were a step slow on the defensive end. We had a lot of silly reaching-in fouls and Peshtigo got into the bonus very quickly,” Barker said. “Bottom line is that we showed effort and played hard. We know that we’re going to take our lumps and I know that our players will keep a positive attitude and keep working on things. We have potential. We just have to keep working and keep at it.”
Tonn contributed eight points, including a pair of triples, while Mason Brissette finished her night with six. Rylie Elle tacked on five with Phillips and Smalls both scoring four.
Thursday’s game was played in front of a packed crowd at P.F. Neverman gym, including raucous Marinette and Peshtigo student sections that made noise all night long.
After playing the 2020-21 season in front of sparse, or sometimes non-existent, crowds due to COVID-19, both coaches said that having fans back made an impact on the game.
“Tonight was a fun night. Good crowd, great atmosphere,” Pesch said. “It motivates everyone. Last year we played with zero crowds some nights and it’s just no fun. Kudos to Marinette for bringing a great crowd.”
“We definitely appreciate the support from the student body, the parents and the crowd. It’s nice to have them back. I wish we would have done a bit more to feed off their energy,” Barker added.
Marinette begins its North Eastern Conference slate on Tuesday at home against Fox Valley Lutheran with a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Peshtigo is off until its Nov. 30 home-opener against Sevastopol at 7 p.m.
PESHTIGO (63)—Lund 21, Gilligan 15, Tonn 8, Brissette 6, Elle 5, Phillips 4, Smalls 4; FTs: 11-23.
MARINETTE (29)—Chenier 10, Wingender 8, Torrko 5, Poquette 3, G. Hanson 2, Veriha 1; FTs: 4-17.