JUST ENOUGH: Norse Ladies Win Playoff Opener

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Coach Todd Ciochetto and sophomore Leah Allan. Also click the AUDIO button to hear Emma Rutter's halftime interview.

The Bay College Norse women's basketball team opened the NJCAA Region 12 Great Lakes “C” District Tournament Tuesday night with a 66-57 win over the Grand Rapids Community College Raiders in Escanaba.


The Norse jumped off to a 18-point lead in the second quarter, but had to hang on after GRCC cut the deficit to five late in the fourth quarter.


“We were bad,” Norse Coach Todd Ciochetto said, bluntly. “We started out well when Ashlee was in there. But what happened was Ashlee (Burchette) went out with her third foul. It was a legit foul. And then we were just out of sorts. We couldn't catch (on rebounds and passes) again, and we were taking bad shots. We just didn't play well.”


“We all had to step up because we have some people sick right now,” Norse sophomore Leah Allan said. “So, everybody just had to come in and play their hardest. We had to get things done to keep going. I knew I had to come in with focus and play my game to pull this out. A win is a win. We have to go on and keep playing. Keep advancing, and see if we can get to the national tournament.”


The Raiders struggled to score in the first quarter, with a three-pointer from Ava Schultz and four free throws being the only points on the board. Bay led. 19-7, as Ashlee Burchette scored nine points, and Siena Lingle and Leah Allan both made triples.


Bay opened the second quarter with a 10-2 run, and the Norse had a 27-9 lead at the media timeout. But the Raiders responded with a 10-2 run of its own behind six points from Kaylie Vanderhulst, and GRCC was within 32-20 at halftime.


The Norse had problems on the glass in the third quarter, with the Raiders getting several offensive rebounds. One of them led to a rare four-point play on a Shultz triple and foul shot, bringing Grand Rapids to within 41-35 late in the third quarter.


It was 50-40 at the end of the third quarter, but the Raiders had another push, closing to within 56-50 with five minutes left on the clock. Emma Rutter sank a big triple to give Bay a 59-50 lead, and, still, the Raiders had another answer, with Schultz nailing a triple from the top of the key, to close the gap to 60-55 for Grand Rapids.


The Norse went inside the paint on the next possession, with Jada Freudinger going to the basket for an “and-one” hoop. She made the foul shot, making it 63-55, and the Norse essentially ran out the clock from there.


Burchette led the Norse with 21 points, but was saddled with foul trouble for much of the night. Freudinger had 13 points (on 5-of-7 shooting), and she had five rebounds. Allan contributed eleven points and six rebounds. Lingle had ten points, making for four Norse players scoring in double figures.


Kennedy Sproule did not make a basket all night as the Raiders “face-guarded” her on defense. But she did pull down a game-high 13 rebounds, and she made all five of her free throws.


GRCC (10-16 overall) was led by Shultz with 15 points, with four triples. Tia Richard also scored 15 points, with eight of those in the fourth quarter. She threw up 25 shots from the floor, making seven of them. Vanderhulst added eleven points for the Raiders.


“We wanted to get a win, no injuries, and that happened,” Ciochetto said. “It barely happened, because it got chippy again.”


Bay College (22-8 overall) advances to the regional semifinals on Thursday against the Jackson College. The Jets (24-4 overall) beat Oakland Community College Tuesday night, 86-74.


“I've watched them some,” Ciochetto said. “I think we match up pretty well, but we've got to play better basketball.”


The semifinal game between the Norse and the Jets will be played at the Ballenger Fieldhouse on the Mott Community College campus in Flint.


Game time on Thursday is set for 11 am and it will be broadcast live on Maverick 106.3 FM, and on-line through the audio link at

LISTEN: Emma Rutter player spotlight interview
LISTEN: Todd Ciochetto post-game comments
LISTEN: Leah Allan post-game comments