For two girls basketball teams in the Blue Water Area, Wednesday was a glimpse of what the future might hold.
A pair of freshmen stole the show as Yale slipped past Port Huron Northern, 41-37, on the road in the season opener for both teams.
Yale’s Sadie Dykstra (11 points) and Northern’s Jadelynn Freeman (12 points) shined in their high school debuts.
“At the beginning, I was very nervous,” Dykstra said. “I’ve played with a travel team, but I feel like it’s different when I’m in school ball. I have a lot more people that I know watching me (in the stands) … so it was just a different feel to the game.”
“It was a little nerve-wracking at first,” Freeman said. “After the second (quarter), I was getting into my groove. For the first half, it was a little bumpy. I didn’t make any shots. But in the second half, I felt like I was improving.”
Neither player was hesitant, as they aggressively pushed the ball and attacked the basket. Both took turns running their respective offenses and looked comfortable doing so.
“Sadie is great at driving and passing,” Yale coach Bryan Goulding said. “So when she gets going that way she can either drive and finish or pass it out to somebody to score.”
“(Freeman) is different,” Northern coach Ryan Rossi said. “You can see the skill, the time and the effort that she has put in over the years. She plays travel ball, is in the gym always and doesn’t miss (any workout or practice).”
When Rossi told her earlier in the week about the matchup with Dykstra, Freeman “perked up” at the opportunity.
“She started to get a little excited about that,” Rossi said. “And that’s what it was. An up-and-down game and you’ve got these two freshmen out here who are playing at an extremely high level. That’s what we all want to see.”
The Huskies took their largest lead of the night, 32-26, early in the fourth quarter on a fast-break layup from Shannon Fealko (six points). But the Bulldogs closed the game on a 15-5 run to emerge victorious. Yale’s Alyssa Barr led all scorers with 15 points.
“We just had to get way more pumped up and be more aggressive to get to the rim,” Dykstra said. “Once we started doing that, it started clicking and we (were) able to score more points.”
“I think in the first half (our players) were forcing shots,” Goulding said. “In the second (half), they became more and more relaxed and flowed into their offense.”
Rossi, who spent three years as an assistant on Goulding’s staff, was proud of his team’s showing in their first game together.
“These girls, they might seem young on paper,” Rossi said. “But we said we’re not going to use that as an excuse … if we get those first-game jitters out of the way now, we can hang with anybody … it’s exciting. We’re trying to just keep building and building.”
Marine City 41, Algonac 24
The Mariners and Muskrats also began their seasons Wednesday. Jade Blanchard finished with a game-high 16 points and six rebounds for Marine City. Teammate Josalyn Dietlin contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.
Jaycee Reams led the way for Algonac with 12 points while Ella Stephenson scored nine.
Armada 54, Deckerville 22 (Tuesday)
Ellen Sutton posted a game-high 13 points as the Tigers cruised to victory over the Eagles. Meya Drob added 10 points for Armada.
Deckerville was led by Jessie Heilig’s eight points. Shelby Flanagan chipped in five.
North Branch 52, Marysville 35 (Tuesday)
The Vikings dropped their season opener in a non-conference matchup on the road. Avery Wolters led Marysville with nine points while Meghan Winston and Addison Mynsberge each had six.
Contact Brenden Welper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.