BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Call it a prelude to this weekend's Northwest Conference-Lake Michigan Conference Crossover Challenge.
Senior Liza Erickson scored 10 points Wednesday night to lead St. Francis to a 43-36 win over Glen Lake in the championship game of the Katie Heintz Tip-Off Tournament.
"It's always a big deal," Erickson, the tournament MVP, said. "We love honoring Katie. It wouldn't be what it is if we didn't win it for her."
Erickson, who usually wears No. 32, wore jersey No. 44 in the final — the number Heintz wore as a Gladiator. Heintz died in 2005 after a nearly year-long battle with leukemia.
"This is something the girls really wanted to win," St. Francis coach Mike Knudsen said. "The whole Katie Heintz experience is important to the girls. They were very happy to pull this out."
The Gladiators scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to take the lead for good, this after the two teams went into the break deadlocked at 18.
"We decided to go to a full-court press and the girls really responded," Knudsen said. "I think we might have surprised them a little with it. It just happened to work out for us tonight."
Glen Lake regrouped, though, and closed the lead to two, 35-33, with 2:31 remaining. But that's the closest the Lakers would get.
Glen Lake coach Jason Bradford said lack of execution hurt his team at critical times.
"We struggled. We seemed very hesitant offensively," he said. "We were just trying to find a rhythm. We'd get close, get close, then have a turnover here, a turnover there. That really hurt. If a couple things here and there go our way, it could have been a different game."
Freshman Anne Lyman banked in two critical 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the Gladiators in control. Her first came after the Lakers closed to within three, 29-26. Her second came with 2:10 left and pushed the cushion from two to five, 38-33.
"She stepped up, which was good to see," Knudsen said.
Lyman finished with eight points — all in the fourth quarter.
"She hit those (3-pointers) in key moments when we were coming back," Bradford said. "That hurt."
Scotlyn Brengman and Jordan Peplinski scored 13 points each for the Lakers. Both were named to the all-tournament team.
The all-tournament team also included St. Francis center Bridget Bussell, Bear Lake's Emileigh Ferguson and Lake Leelanau St. Mary's Hannah Weber.
Ferguson scored 30 points to lead Bear Lake to a 68-18 win over St. Mary in the consolation game. Briann Bowling chipped in 11. Weber and Lindsey Boone led the Eagles with six points.
St. Francis captured the JV tournament with a 39-33 win over Glen Lake. Suzanne Britten netted 13 for the Gladiators. Glen Lake's Breanna Flores tallied a game-high 17.
Bear Lake won the consolation game 51-32 over St. Mary as Katelynn Millard netted 13 and Alycia Peterson 10. Abbie Thon's 19 topped the Eagles.
St. Francis and Glen Lake compete in the Crossover Challenge this weekend. The Gladiators take on Kingsley on Friday night while the Lakers face East Jordan Saturday evening. All games are at Kingsley.