Broncos win first league title in 34 years
IMLAY CITY – The last time the North Branch girls’ basketball team won a league title, current head coach Tim Gormley was a junior in high school.
The 1991 North Branch High graduate got to watch his girls break that streak here Friday in a 41-18 win over Imlay City.
“I’m excited for them,” Gormley said. “I told them in the locker room just now that I remember being in high school and watching the girls play in the district and regional and how exciting it was. The town was abuzz. I hope we can do that again.”
The Broncos clinched the Blue Water Area Conference title outright with the win that also snapped the Spartans’ 36-game home winning streak.
“I thought maybe it would be a little closer,” North Branch senior Bailey Gormley said. “I also felt no pressure this game, and I think the rest of the team felt like that, so we just went out, played our game and got the
North Branch jumped to a 14-3 lead following the first
quarter and extended it to 24-11 at halftime behind six points each from Natasha Bickel and Tracy Ludescher.
The third quarter was a low-scoring stalemate with four
points scored on each side, giving North Branch a 28-15 lead in the final stanza before the Broncos closed out the game with a 14-3 run to seize the win.
“Imlay City is a good team, athletic, and I know they have
an injury right now that is affecting them a lot,” Tim Gormley said. “I knew they were going to be tough. We had our game plan, we stuck with it and stayed focused, and I told the girls if we did just that it’ll work out in our favor.
“We’ve been working, and they deserve it. I’m happy for the girls.”
The last time North Branch won a regional championship was
in 1988 when both Bailey Gormley’s mom, and Bickel’s mom, were members of the team.
Kim (Lewiski) Gormley and Kristine (Deshetsky) Bickel were
on the squad in the late 1980s and currently are involved with the program, with both having daughters on the team.
“It’s cool because my mom helps out with the bigs because
that was her position,” Natasha Bickel said. “My mom (Kristine) understands theposition and knows me and knows how to get me motivated and get me going.”
Bailey Gormley led North Branch on Friday with 13 points and
11 rebounds. She also added three assists and two steals.
The Broncos’ Cate Welch collected eight points, Maci Kaake
added seven points and three steals, and Bickel contributed six points, 12 rebounds and two assists.
Tim Gormley noted how important the bench points have been
to the success this season.
“We’ve only had one or two games where we only had four of five girls score,” he said. “We are fortunate to have seven or eight girls get in the scorebook normally. Whether it’s one or two points, it’s just nice to get a bench player to help contribute and it shows how deep you are as a team.”
Natasha Bickel and Bailey Gormley were both members of the 2022 Division 2 volleyball state champion team and hope to roll that success into the basketball postseason.
“We want districts, and we also want to get back to winning a regional title because we haven’t done that in a while either,” Bailey Gormley said. “It’s the best feeling to get to do this as a senior and especially with this team.”
“We’re not expecting to be there by any means,” Natasha Bickel added. “We are working hard to get there, and we absolutely still have big goals.”
North Branch (18-2, 12-1) returned to action Tuesday at Caro. The two teams are in the same Division 2 district at Croswell-Lexington and could meet in the district semifinal game.