It took the Saline varsity boys basketball team exactly one minute and twelve seconds into Friday night’s contest with the Wayland Union Wildcats to take a lead they never relinquished in an easy 61-44 win. It was Saline’s third victory in a row, fifth in their last six games. The win raises their season record to 11-7, 5-5 in the SEC Red Division.
With the SEC Red Division schedule completed, the Hornets are building towards their rematch with the Ann Arbor Huron River Rats in the opening game in the districts, which Saline will host beginning on Monday, March 9, in a 5:30 p.m. game at Saline High School.
The Hornets jumped out to a 9-2 lead against the Wildcats on the strength of senior guard Griffin Yaklich’s slick ball-handling and passing skills. Yaklich opened the scoring when he connected on both free throws to stake Saline to a 2-0 lead.
Yaklich then set up junior forward Anthony Ferrari who was fouled. Yaklich hit a short jump shot followed by senior forward Tyler Belskus’ shot from under the basket.
Junior guard Jaden Pickett hit a three-pointer and senior guard Trevor Arico closed out the first quarter scoring when he hit a jump shot in the key to give Saline a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Yaklich head to the bench with two fouls and the Hornet offense lost a key cog in the engine. Ferrari upped Saline’s lead to 18-9 at 6:47 when he converted an offensive rebound. Arico followed a minute later with another jump shot to bump the lead to 20-9.
Ferrari closed out the first half scoring when he took a pass under the basket and put it up and in to give Saline a 25-15 halftime lead.
Yaklich returned to the court to start the third quarter and led the Hornets on a 10-3 run to give Saline a 35-18 lead. Yaklich picked up an assist on junior guard Derek Caldwell three-pointer from the corner. Belskus converted two foul shots followed by a bucket by Arico and a foul shot by Ferrari.
Then Wayland Union went on an 8-0 run in the next two minutes to cut the lead to 35-26. Following a time out by Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick the Hornets reasserted their muscle and imposed their will on the Wildcats for the remaining three minutes. Junior guard Jaden Pickett hit a key three-point shot from the corner to give Saline a 36-28 lead.
Arico ended the quarter with a little thunder of his own. He broke loose at the top of the key to hit a three, upping the lead to 42-28. Then Arico was fouled in the act of shooting. A Wildcat player protested and was assessed a technical foul. Arico calmly sank three of the four throws to send Saline to the final quarter up 45-28.
Caldwell and Arico led the Hornet scoring in the final eight minutes with each scoring six points. Junior guard Nathan Holmberg concluded the scoring when he hit a three-pointer to give Saline a 61-37 lead. Wayland Union scored the final six points of the game but Saline had walked away with an impressive 61-43 win.
The Hornets were led by Arico’s 21 points, Pickett with 10 and Caldwell 8. Yaklich scored 7 points, with 4 rebounds and 5 assists while Belskus had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
“We had some very emotional games last week and I was afraid that the team might suffer an emotional let-down,” said Coach Fosdick following the game. “We talked all week about maintaining intensity throughout the entire game. I thought they did a good job of that tonight.”
Fosdick had praise for several players.
“Jaden (Pickett) has really developed all season long and is now making key baskets for us,” Fosdick said. “We have said that our goal was to be playing our best basketball in March. That is what we are working towards and I think the guys understand that.”
Asked about playing the Ann Arbor Huron River Rats for the third time this season, Fosdick demurred on specific game plans.
“We are definitely looking forward to playing them again. Against a team as good as Huron, it is simple. We need to take care of the ball and not make turnovers and keep them off the boards. No easy second shots. If we do that we can win,” said Fosdick.
The Hornets have two games remaining before districts. They travel next Tuesday to Ypsilanti to take on Ypsilanti in a SEC White Division cross-over game. Tip-off time is 7 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Trevor Arico (21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists)
2nd Star: Jaden Pickett (10 points)
3rd Star: Derek Caldwell (8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist)
JV SQUAD NEVER TRAILS, WINS 82-44, RECORD STANDS AT 16-2
The Hornet JV team scored in the first ten seconds of the game and never looked back as they absolutely clobbered the Wayland Union Wildcats 82-44 Friday night at Saline High School. With the win the team record goes to 16-2, with just two games remaining in their season.
Sophomore guard Evan Merillat led all scorers with 16 points to go with his three rebounds and one assist. Sophomore guard Braden LaRusso chipped in 15 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists while sophomore guards Romeo Love and Kiernan Dean each ended up with 14 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Hornets outscored the Wildcats 27-12 in the opening quarter, 16-13, 24-11 and 15 – 8 for the impressive win.
Sophomore(s) Joshua Koch and Gavin Messman each had 7 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist. Koch also had three blocked shots.
“We have stressed all year long about everyone being ready, be the next man up, and that really played out tonight,” said JV Head Coach Jason Pickett.
“I really like how the team is trending upward, playing some of their best basketball as we near March,” Pickett continued. “It is important that these guys continue to improve as they head towards varsity basketball next year. I was really proud of their effort tonight.”
The JV squad gets back into action next Tuesday when they travel to Ypsilanti to take on the Grizzlies. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Evan Merillat (16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Braden LaRusso (15 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists)
3rd Star: Kiernan Dean (14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
FRESHMEN DROP A HEARTBREAKER -- 60-59
The freshmen Hornets led most of the way but let one slip away in the fourth quarter, dropping a 60-59 decision to the Wayland Union Wildcats 60-59 Friday night at Saline High School. With the loss their record drops to 14-4 on the season.
The freshmen were led by Samuel Miller’s 22 points, followed by Zachary Fidh’s 21 and Roman Laurio’s 12.
Freshmen Head Coach Kirk Boettcher said that he was proud of his team’s effort. “We have been known for our defense all year but we didn’t get the job done tonight. Any time you score 59 points in a freshman game, you should win. It’s OK, we will get it fixed in practice.”
The freshmen Hornets get back into action on Tuesday evening when they travel to Ypsilanti. Game time is 4 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Samuel Miller (22 points)
2nd Star: Zachary Fidh (21 points)
3rd Star: Roman Laurio (12 points)