HOUGHTON - Just a few games into her first full season of varsity basketball, Houghton junior Elisa Jurmu has already become a spark plug for her team.
The forward put a charge into Tuesday's game with Escanaba more than once, and Houghton came away with the 49-25 non-league victory.
Jurmu scored nine points in a 13-0 first-quarter run, then essentially finished the game off with six in a row at the end of the third quarter as Houghton shut the door on the visitors. She finished with 18 points to lead all scorers.
Houghton’s Elisa Jurmu drives through a trio of Escanaba players for a basket during the second half of Tuesday’s game. She had a game-high 18 points in the Gremlins’ 49-25 victory. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"Elisa loves to compete. Elisa hates to lose. She is out on the floor doing whatever she can to be a good teammate," Houghton coach Julie Filpus said.
Escanaba carried the play for much of the second quarter, drawing to within four at halftime.
"We were right where we wanted to be at halftime. We were playing good defense, I thought we rebounded really well, we brought a lot of energy," Escanaba coach Kelly O'Connell said. "Give credit to Houghton's defense. They kind of take you far from the basket. They're long, athletic, get into passing lanes well. I thought we could've been a little more patient in the second half. We missed a lot of shots."
Escanaba 4 12 7 2 - 25
Houghton 13 7 18 11 - 49
Escanaba - Ashley Cook 10, Michelle LaFave 8, Codi Jenshak 5, Jessica Beauchamp 2; FT: 3-12; Fouls: 10; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Jenshak 1, Cook 1.
Houghton - Elisa Jurmu 18, Alexa Johnson 12, Kelsie Richards 9, Blaire Zenner 6, Sydney Dillinger 4; FT: 5-6; Fouls: 7; Fouled out: none; 3-point field goals: Johnson 4, Richards 1, Jurmu 1.
Filpus admitted her team got passive in the first half against Escanaba, playing a 2-3 zone, but they quickly made an 8-2 run to begin the third capped off with a three-point play by - who else?- Jurmu.
"It goes back to intensity, it goes back to doing the little things right. We missed some box-outs and in the second half, we just kind of collected ourselves and said, 'This is the kind of team we want to be, let's go out and show Escanaba what we can do,'" Filpus said.
Escanaba countered, getting to witihin seven on Codi Jenshak's trey 4:40 into the half, but Jurmu finished the quarter with a driving layup, a free throw and a driving layup followed by a free throw, all within 1:02, to put Houghton up 15 after three quarters.
The game got a little more lopsided than perhaps the visitors deserved in the fourth on account of Houghton connecting three times from outside and holding Escanaba to one basket, 1:20 into the quarter.
It was a strong night defensively all around for Houghton, from Jurmu on Esky sophomore standout Michelle LaFave, throughout the line-up.
"In the second half, I thought the talking was a little bit louder defensively and I thought we pressured the ball better. I thought we were in passing lanes. When all five players do that, we are successful," Filpus said.
Ashley Cook paced the Eskymo offense with 10 points. O'Connell called the game 'a great lesson' for his team, now 2-4 overall.
"That's great pressure they put on. We're inexperienced, we're young and we've just got to learn in that situation not to rush," he said.
Alexa Johnson added 12 points for the 4-1 Gremlins.
Both teams have Gladstone next on their schedules: Houghton visits for a Dec. 27 matinee, while Escanaba is off until their rivalry showdown Jan. 4.
Houghton won the JV game 41-34.