Prep girls basketball: Gwinn tops Munising as both teams struggle from free-throw line

GWINN – A distinctly bigger and taller Gwinn girls basketball team had a blind spot on Monday night – cold shooting from the free-throw line.

But a youthful Munising team couldn’t take advantage as the Mustangs suffered from the same problem, allowing the Modeltowners to easily prevail at home, 54-31.

Each team made barely a third of their free throws – Gwinn 8 of 23 and Munising 7 of 19 – and the teams combined to sink just 1 of 14 in the third quarter.

But the third quarter turned out to be crucial in determining the outcome. With the Mustangs trailing just 21-17 at halftime, Gwinn made five baskets in the first 2 1/2 minutes after intermission to grab a 31-21 lead.

That all came before it rained, snowed and sleeted on the free-throw parade.

Gwinn scored early in the third quarter on a fast break, with a ballhandler weaving through traffic, off an offensive rebound and twice when their tallest player took a pinpoint pass under the basket.

That tallest player, 6-foot-3 senior Shelby Talsma, finished with 10 points thanks to a big night from 5-7 junior point guard Ellie Olsen, who scored 20 points, made five steals and dished out eight assists.

“We picked it up a lot in the second half,” Olsen said about the game’s pace. “We had to get over the jitters before that.

“Coach just wanted us to be aggressive and get the ball into our bigger players.”

Her coach, Ben Olsen, agreed.

“It looked like we were running too fast through our stuff in the first half, like everybody was nervous,” said the coach, not related to Ellie Olsen. “Our game plan really didn’t change at halftime, but we just executed it better.”

Defensively, the Modeltowners (3-4) did a better job in the second half of containing Munising freshman star Marissa Immel, who scored 11 points in the first half, but finished with only 16.

Immel is just one of three freshmen who start for Munising (4-2). One of the others is coach Matt Mattson’s daughter, Frankie Mattson, who pulled down 18 rebounds while scoring seven points.

“For a team that starts three freshmen, I’m happy to have a 4-2 record in the first month of the season,” Matt Mattson said. “If we can have a winning record every month this season, that would have to be considered a success.”

Gwinn junior Jordyn Hutchens scored 10 points, while 6-foot sophomore teammate Tori Lauren complimented Talsma inside by scoring four points and pulling in a team-high seven rebounds.

The Mustangs won the JV game, 50-43.