Plum girls basketball team starts season with victory over Freeport
Friday, December 1, 2023 | 9:49 PM
Last year’s girls basketball season opener between Plum and Freeport at the Freeport Tip-Off Tournament went down to the wire with Mustangs combo guard/forward Riley Stephans hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer in her freshman varsity debut.
Plum didn’t need any late-game heroics in Friday’s rematch with the Yellowjackets at Freeport Middle School.
Senior Case Western Reserve commit Megan Marston led all scorers with 22 points as the Mustangs led by 17 at halftime and by 18 at the end of the third quarter before closing out a 67-43 victory in the season opener for both teams.
“Whether it was scoring in double figures or playing really good defense which led to a lot of offense, everyone contributed and it was really exciting to see,” said Marston, who scored 14 of her 22 points in the first half.
Plum will have a quick turnaround. The Mustangs face Highlands at 10:30 a.m. Saturday back at Freeport Middle School.
The Golden Rams won their opener Friday, 37-21, over Fox Chapel.
“We have that one-game-at-a-time mentality, and we didn’t think about Highlands until after this game against Freeport,” Marston said. “Now, we are shifting our focus to them. It’s a big game for us, and it will be a really good test. Highlands is a good, experienced team. We have to quickly fix our mistakes and also find ways to build on the good things we did.”
Freeport, which got a team-best 13 points from senior Jaden Gaillot and 12 more from sophomore Tessa Keller, hopes to bounce back at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Fox Chapel.
“I think we learned a lot about our team today, both individually and as a whole,” first-year Freeport coach Mallory Ketterer said.
“We talked in the locker room about this weekend being a really good learning opportunity. We have low numbers, and we don’t get to go live too much in practice. We’re going to use these games to learn as much as we can, knowing that they aren’t section games. We want the girls to come out and find their rhythm and see what pairings work well together.
“I told the girls that there is no time to hang their heads. We have a great opportunity to come out again (Saturday) and work to get a win against Fox Chapel. We get to get back on the floor quickly and have a chance to fix some of the things that didn’t go our way against Plum.”
Plum took control early and led 23-10 after one quarter.
Marston tallied eight over the first eight minutes. Stephans had five, and freshman Tamia West and senior Pascale Olczak scored four apiece.
West, coming off the bench, had six points at halftime of her first varsity game. She finished with 12.
“From middle school to now, with how fast varsity basketball can be, I think she was a little nervous. But she got in there and really settled down. She has so much speed and athleticism. You could see her confidence grow the more she was in the game.”
Stephans also finished with 12 points.
Olczak, a force on the defensive end for the Mustangs, just missed double-digit points as she ended with nine. Junior Serena Carnahan scored eight for Plum.
Freeport closed its deficit to 12 at 41-29 midway through the third quarter, but back-to-back layups from Olczak and a jumper from Marston put the Mustangs back up 18 with just more than two minutes to go in the stanza.
“Overall, I was pleased with how the girls played,” Plum coach Rich Mull said. “It was a little sloppy at times. We had a mix of some younger and older kids in there. I was happy for the younger kids who got a chance to get in there and get comfortable with a couple of minutes here and there. It was a good way to start the season.
“We have a really good test (Saturday) in Highlands. I don’t think we play a bad team on our entire schedule. Every team we scheduled in nonsection to our tournament games here, they will all get us ready for our section games. We have plans to move up in the section standings.”
Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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