The first NCCAA coaches’ poll came out on Thursday and the Grace Lady Tigers came in at #8. They wouldn’t have to wait long for the opportunity to move up as the #7 Archers from Moody rolled into town early Thursday evening. Moody defeated Grace in a tightly contested game in the Tip Off Tournament in early December. The Lady Tigers were coming off of their poorest performance of the season at IU Northwest on Tuesday and were looking to prove they were better than that showing.
Moody came out trying to use their size advantage to set the early tone of the game and jumped out to an early 13-7 lead. Coach Rich Renzema used a time-out to re-emphasize some of the details of the new diamond and one defense implemented to help contain Moody’s strong point guard and minimize the damage that could be done by their front line that goes 6-3, 6-2, and 6-0. The Lady Tigers responded well and actually opened up a double digit lead before heading ito the locker room with a 39-30 lead.
The Tiger post tandem of Jessica Sikorski (Wyoming Park) and Marissa Pelletier (Calvin Christian), despite being much shorter than their opponents, worked well together and used their quickness advantage to get the Moody posts into foul trouble.
Moody stormed back in the 2nd half and even took small leads on several occasions in the 2nd half. The Tigers had even more adversity to overcome as Jessica Sikorski struggled with severe leg cramps and was unavailable for most of the last eight minutes of the game. The Lady Tigers proved this was not a 1 person show and several girls made key plays down the stretch to come away with the hard fought victory.
Jessica Sikorski led the Tiger scoring with 21 points. Marissa Pelletier played probably her best overall game in a Grace uniform with 17 points, 13 rebounds and tremendous defense. Kerie Rudd (Battle Creek Pennfield) played another solid game with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“I am very proud of the team tonight”, Coach Renzema said after the game. “We played our best game of the year and the girls executed our offensive and defensive game plans very well, even some things that we had never even practiced. I am very proud of how the team responded when Jessica wasn’t able to play. This was a team win and every girl on the roster had a big part in this victory.”
The Lady Tigers won’t have long to celebrate as they take the court at the Aldrich Athletic Center again on Friday at 5 PM against Northland International University.