2018-01-11 / Sports

Rodriguez, Cunningham, spark Ubly and Lakers to GTC victories

By: Mike Gallagher
Sports Reporter - mgallagher@mihomepaper.com

Ubly forward Emelia Rodriguez drives the baseline against Memphis last week. Rodriguez scored the first nine points of the contest, and finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. 
Photo by Mike Gallagher Ubly forward Emelia Rodriguez drives the baseline against Memphis last week. Rodriguez scored the first nine points of the contest, and finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Photo by Mike Gallagher UBLY - Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port’s Karly Cunningham, and Ubly’s Emelia Rodriguez helped propel their teams to Greater Thumb Conference victories over the past week.

Rodriguez scored the first nine points of the game against Memphis and scored a season-high 15 points in the Bearcats’ 47-12 victory over the Yellowjackets.

“Emelia has been very focused on her post position,” said Ubly head coach Jeanne Gusa. “Even though she’s not tall in stature, she’s been doing a good job of getting down there and using her body to create space and then finishing strong.”

Rodriguez’s post game is something that she has been working at all season according to Gusa.

“She’s been working diligently on getting her footwork down, using her upper body and the backboard to get points. She’s been going up really strong and really smart lately and it was nice to see that positive reinforcement so that she can use that for a stepping stone for the rest of the season because she is a key player.”

Rodriguez and the Bearcats defense forced 30 turnovers in the victory over Memphis and held them to just two first-half points, as they led 33-2 at the break.

“The kids were extremely unselfish, distributed the ball and did exactly what the game plan was,” said Gusa. “They executed it perfectly, so I was very proud of them getting in there and being selfless.”

Seven of the eight Bearcat players scored, as Josie Gusa scored eight points, and Janelle White and Kara Peruski both had six.

“We work everybody in who’s been showing up and working hard in practice and reward everybody and give them an opportunity to shine and be a part of the game experience,” Gusa said.

That included senior Olivia Bender, who earned her first career start against Memphis.

“She’s a senior and she took last year off as a junior, so tonight was her first time to get on the floor and start,” said Gusa. “She just has great energy and the kids really get behind her because she has a great personality and a great attitude and everyone was pulling for her to be successful tonight.”

The win moved Ubly to 5-2 on the season.

“I’m extremely happy for the girls,” said Gusa. “They came in here and they were hungry because they know, and they appreciate every win they get because we don’t take anything for granted.”

While Rodriguez made her presence felt in the first half, it was the second half of the EPBP at Bad Axe game where Karly Cunningham made her mark.

Lakers led the game 25-15 at halftime, but Bad Axe was looking to make a push to get back into the game in the second half.

Cunningham put an end to that quickly and helped lead her team to a 59-35 victory by knocking down two three-pointers to open the third quarter, and scoring 10 second-half points.

“We’ve been working on that,” said EPBP head coach David Cook about Cunningham’s offensive game. “I told her she has to start scoring from the outside. She’s been getting outside looks and she’s just needed some confidence. Once she saw a couple shots fall her confidence was there and it opened up things for our bigs. She makes some shots and that makes us a much better team.”

EPBP opened the second half with two set plays for Cunningham.

“We called two plays for her and that was the play,” said Cook. “We knew we had to get her confidence back. It came, and she played a lot better.”

Cook is hoping that the confidence that Cunningham gained with her big second half is something that the EPBP team can build off of as well.

“This is the first time we’ve got everyone together, and I like our chances,” said Cook. “We should be able to compete, we just haven’t played well. Hopefully, this is the start of us getting to where we know we can be.”

Kaylee Krohn and Emma Irion both added 11 points in the victory, and Abi Schuette scored 10.

EPBP moved to 3-4 with the victory, and 1-0 in the GTC West.

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