In Play with Tom Markowski

Benton Harbor girls team takes it on the chin against Whitney Young

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

Detroit – Basketball is not just about making shots. It’s about desire.

Benton Harbor was short on both on Sunday as Chicago Whitney Young ran past the Tigers 85-64 at Detroit Mumford.

The game was part of the DC Coleman Classic, which began on Saturday. Benton Harbor’s game featured two highly-publicized teams. Benton Harbor (1-1), led by the Gondrezick sisters, was ranked No. 2 in State Champs preseason girls basketball rankings. Whitney Young (1-1) is one of the top-rated teams in the country, and that was evident against Benton Harbor.

 Benton Harbor coach Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick indicated before the season that although her team had talent there were some holes to fill. Patience was a word Harvey-Gondrezick used frequently before the season, and one she has kept in her vocabulary.

“It was horrific,” she said. “We couldn’t rebound. We had been rebounding well. We had something like a 51-40 edge over Niles (78-53 victory on Friday). But we can’t have guards being our leading rebounders. We’d have initial stops then they get inside. That’s what outstanding athletes will do. Everybody they got were on the rebounds.

“Although we have six seniors, three are first-time varsity players. It’s a different platform, playing (junior varsity) then varsity. It’s a different mental toughness. Their young ladies were selfish with their possessions. We needed to take care of the ball better.”

Benton Harbor might have had the two best players on the court, which could be up for debate, but Whitney Young had superior depth and players who knew their roles. Benton Harbor tried to run with Whitney Young and was successful for nine minutes. The Tigers led 19-17 before Whitney Young went on a 15-2 to take a 32-21 lead with four minutes left in the half.

Benton Harbor never got closer than five.

Kysre Gondrezick, a 5-10 junior and the state’s top-ranked player, had 30 points and her sister Kalabrya, a 5-10 senior who signed with Michigan State, had 26.

That left eight points for the rest of the team. That lack of balance is not a recipe for success, and it’s obvious to everyone.

“I was disappointed,” Kalabrya said. “I wanted to see our team have more heart. We get on ourselves in practice. There’s only so much you can say. Then they have to do it on their own.

“I was proud of the way we play offense. But we didn’t execute the second and third options. There’s no way they’re 20 points better than us. I think some of our players gave up. Some of our supporting cast did well. There was some positives.”

Whitney Young came in waves with its full-court press and double teams. Aside from the Gondrezicks, Benton Harbor’s players were often overwhelmed by the pressure. Even the Gondrezicks succumb to it at times.

But it’s early and the result is understandable on some level. Harvey-Gondrezick is confident there are better times ahead.

“I told them (this loss) will make them better for the rest of the season,” she said. “We had some dejected moments. That’s why I schedule games like this. There were going to be things exposed.”

Benton Harbor will get better. But how much and how fast are questions the Tigers must answer in the next month or so.