Northview coach Jerry Sigler celebrated his 67th birthday and start of his 37th season of coaching by leading the Wildcats to a decisive 54-25 victory over Start on Friday night.
Sophomores Kendall Jessing and Kendall McCoy combined for 27 points to lead the way for Northview, which had 10 players score at least a point in a game the Wildcats led from the start.
"It was pretty big to get that first win," Sigler said. "It wasn't pretty, but we had some bright spots and they played pretty hard tonight."
On the other hand, the Spartans' season didn't get off to the kind of start any coach would hope for.
Start lost senior post player Dee Hicks and sophomore Shay Burroughs before the tip-off after the two collided during warm-up drills. Hicks left the gym with a cut on her head and both players were taken to the hospital and examined for concussions.
"I had to change the lineup and put people in where they don't normally play," Start coach Leon Kynard said. "The kids came out and gave a really good effort. My seniors played really hard."
Sigler certainly thought the Spartans were affected by the pre-game accident that also delayed the tip-off several minutes after blood had to be wiped from the court.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats recognized early their advantage near the basket with Hicks out of the game. Jessing, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward, went right to work near the basket.
The Wildcats made it a priority to feed it to Jessing, who responded by scoring Northview's first seven points to help finish the opening quarter with a 9-2 lead.
After Jessing scored the game's opening two baskets from close range to give Northview a 4-0 advantage, McDuffie broke the Spartans' scorelessness with a driving bank shot to make it 4-2 with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats closed out the quarter with a 7-0 advantage. Maddie Cole, who is also a 6-1 sophomore, added a basket with 2:50 to play for Northview's only other points in the period.
The Wildcats continued right along offensively in the second quarter where they outscored the Spartans 12-3 to end up leading 21-5 at halftime.
The Wildcats' coach credited Jessing for the spark early in the contest that ultimately led to Northview slowly turning the game into a lopsided matchup.
"She played extremely well tonight," Sigler said, of Jessing. "We have that kind of team where that's the way it's going to be for us. We'll have different players come through for us."
McCoy, the Wildcats' other talented six-foot sophomore, became assertive in the second quarter and scored seven points, including a 3-pointer to begin a 10-0 run for the Wildcats to close out the half.
McCoy's trey came moments after a McDuffie basket to give Northview a 14-5 edge with 5:10 left in the second quarter.
Start continued to have trouble finding anyone besides McDuffie to put the ball in the basket during the second quarter. The Spartans senior guard scored Start's three points during the period to account for all of their points in the first half.
Kendra Jones scored all seven of her points after halftime for Start.
Northview increased its lead to 24 points by the end of three quarters. The Wildcats outscored the Spartans 15-7 in the third period. Five Wildcats scored during the period. Stephanie Duwve's basket - a 3-pointer with 5:39 left in the period - drew the loudest applause of the night after she was fouled on the shot attempt by Start's Chelsie Randolph. Duwve sank the free-throw to complete a four-point play and give the Wildcats a 29-5 lead.
Northwiew took a 36-12 lead into the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade