The Saline varsity boys’ basketball team notched a key SEC Red win Tuesday night when they traveled to Ann Arbor and beat the Pioneers 50-45, in a dramatic come-from-behind victory. Saline improved to 7-6 overall and 3-4 in the SEC Red.
Saline head coach Jacob Fosdick came up with the perfect formula that led to the win.
Three parts “thunder”, two parts “lightning”.
Senior guards Trevor ‘Thunder’ Arico and Griffin ‘Lightning’ Yaklich provided the fourth quarter spark to erase a four-point deficit in what was a close game all night long. The Hornets struggled to score through the first three quarters, falling behind by as much as eight points with less than three minutes to go in the opening quarter.
Arico has turned into the SEC Red Division’s version of one-time legendary basketball guard ‘Pistol Pete’ Marovich, a true shooting guard who would score from all over the court. Arico carried the Hornets on his back to keep the game close while teammate Yaklich was on the bench due to early foul trouble.
Yaklich picked up his second foul of the game with twelve seconds left in the first quarter and headed to the bench. Arico went to work and his play kept the Hornets close, scoring 14 of the Hornets’ 18 first half points.
Saline trailed 12-7 at the end of the first, 23-18 at the half. In addition to Arico’s seven second quarter points, senior forward Tyler Belskus and junior guard Jaden Pickett each sank a bucket as the Hornets hung on.
Yaklich returned to the line-up and opened the Hornet scoring by driving to the basket in the opening minute of the third quarter to cut the lead to 24-20. Twenty seconds later, Arico hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to 26-23.
Under intense defensive pressure, junior guard Derek Caldwell hit a dramatic three from the corner to knot the score at 26-26. Yaklich converted another drive to the basket to cut the Pioneer lead to 32-28, to set up the dramatic fourth quarter action.
The Saline offense is most effective when ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning’ are in their groove. In the final eight minutes of the contest, Arico and Yaklich brought the storm to Ann Arbor.
Yaklich spearheaded the Hornet fourth quarter attack by picking up three assists to go along with his six points. Arico scored nine points, along with one assist and one rebound.
Twelve seconds into the quarter Yaklich drove up the lane to score a lay-up and cut the Pioneer lead top 32-30. Forty seconds later, following a basket by Pioneer, Yaklich again drove to the net to cut the lead Pioneer lead to 34-32.
Then Arico took a contested jump shot which went in and he was fouled. The three-point play put Saline in the lead for the first time in the game 35-34. It was a lead that the Hornets would never relinquish.
Belskus joined the fourth quarter scoring parade connecting a three-point shot from the corner to up the lead to 38-35. Following a Pioneer score, Arico connected again, to give Saline a three-point advantage, 40-37.
The large and very loud Saline student section who traveled to cheer on their team, screamed their delight when another drive by Yaklich upped the lead to 42-37.
With three minutes remaining, Belskus grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up to give the Hornets a little breathing room with a 44-40 lead. Junior forward Anthony Ferrari converted another offensive rebound into points to up the lead to 46-40, with 2:15 remaining.
Ferrari came up huge in the fourth quarter at Pioneer, grabbing five rebounds and an assist to contribute to the win. Over the last several games, Ferrari has emerged as a quiet force on the team, becoming his own version of former Hornet Emmet Turner’s “Beast”. Game after game, Ferrari is matched up against the opponent’s big players, and has turned in some stellar defensive efforts.
With Pioneer trying desperately to score points and missing their shots, the Hornets were fouled in the final minute of play. Belskus was fouled and missed. Ferrari was fouled and missed.
Then Arico was fouled. Twice. The first with :45 seconds and then with :17 seconds remaining. Arico finished the storm in grand style making all four free throws to up Saline’s lead to 50-42. Pioneer connected on a three-point shot with three seconds left but the Hornets walked off with a hard fought 50-45 win.
The Hornets student section roared their approval and then sang the Sha-Na-Na song, “nah, nah nah nah, na, na nah, hey hey hey, good-bye!”
Following the game, Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick had a smile on his face that only comes following a win.
“In the first half it seemed like the same old stuff. I started to wonder if practices were making any difference at all,” said Fosdick. “We have to figure out a way to keep Yaklich out of early foul trouble.”
Fosdick continued, “Arico did a good job keeping us in the game, keeping the score close while his partner (Yaklich) was out.”
Fosdick pointed to several factors that helped his team win.
“Belskus made some huge rebounds for us. And how about Anthony (Ferrari) taking that offensive foul and being so clutch under the basket late in the game,” he said.
The Hornets made 10 of 13 free throws on the night. Arico converted 10 of 10.
With the win, the Hornets raise their season record to 7-6, 3-4 in the SEC Red Division. The Hornets will host the Monroe Trojans on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Trevor ‘Thunder’ Arico (24 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Griffin ‘Lightning’ Yaklich (10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 offensive rebounds, 5 assists)
3rd Star: Anthony Ferrari (4 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists)
JV SQUAD WIN DOUBLE OVERTIME THRILLER 83-78
The term ‘barnburner’ refers to a New York political party in the mid-1800’s but is the best description of Tuesday night’s double overtime thrilling win against the Ann Arbor Pioneers. The Hornets squeaked out an 83-78 win but took two extra periods to do it.
And what a night for sophomore guard Braden LaRusso. The Hornets called a time-out with eight seconds left in the game. JV Head Coach Jason Pickett called his team over and talked over the play they would run.
The ball was in-bounded to sophomore guard Romeo Love and the Pioneer defense converged on him. Love calmly dished the ball over to LaRusso.
LaRusso allowed his defender to jump, and he waited. LaRusso planted his feet firmly in three-point territory and put up a shot. The clock kept on ticking. Four seconds left. Three seconds left. The ball is still in flight. Two seconds left.
Finally, the ball hits nothing but net as the clock runs out. The Hornets scored 18 points in the final quarter to finally tie the Pioneers at 60-60 at the end of regulation. The Hornets had trailed the entire game.
In the overtime period, the Hornets jump out to a quick 64-60 lead. The teams traded baskets. Pioneer tied the game at 70-70 but the Hornets had the ball with seconds remaining.
As the Hornets brought the ball down the court, Love was fouled with :01 second left on the clock and the game deadlocked at 70-70. It was a one-on-one free throw attempt. Love’s shot rolled off the rim and the game went into the second four-minute overtime period.
In the second OT, LaRusso’s shooting helped stake the Hornets to a five-point lead, 82-77. LaRusso hit a jump shot in the first minute of OT to give Saline a 76-74 lead. A minute later he hit a three-pointer to give Saline a 79-76 lead.
Love sank the first of two free throws to up Saline’s lead to 80-77 with 1:10 left. Following a Pioneer miss, LaRusso was fouled. With :55 seconds left, he sank both free throws and the Hornets led 82-77.
A what an experience for freshman guard Garrett Baldwin. Baldwin was fouled with :16 seconds left in a four-point game. He sank the second of his free throws to give the Hornets their 83-78 margin of victory.
“We knew this game was going to be a game where you come down and set up your offense and run plays. That is what we planned to do, and the guys executed it well,” said Coach Pickett. “At the end of regulation, we called the play to get the ball to Braden (LaRusso). The kids did their jobs. We set the screens and LaRusso got the look he wanted and took the shot. Just like we practiced it,” said Pickett with a smile on his face.
With the win, the Hornets record goes to 11-2. The JV’s will host Monroe on Friday. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Braden LaRusso (13 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Joshua Koch (22 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists)
3rd Star: Romeo Love (19 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists)
FRESHMEN LOSE TO PIONEER 44-40, RECORD DROPS TO 11-2
The Saline freshmen squad trailed the Ann Arbor Pioneers the entire game, dropping a 44-40 decision. With the loss Saline’s record goes to 11-2 on the year.
Freshman Head Coach Kirk Boettcher said that his team competed hard for the entire game. “Pioneer played well but I am very proud of how the team fought back. We held Pioneer to six baskets in the second half. You will usually win playing defense like that.”
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Zachary Fidh (8 points)
2nd Star: Jason Radojevic (6 points)
3rd Star: Matthew Walper (5 points)