Weather forecasters are predicting a winter storm that is set to converge over the upper Midwest sometime over the weekend. But in the Saline High School gym Friday night, senior hoopsters Trevor “Thunder” Arico and Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich brought the storm early.
In a district game last year, Yaklich walked into the Lincoln High School gym with Arico, and was overheard saying to his teammate, “come on Thunder, it’s time to bring the storm.” And that is exactly what the pair did Friday night.
The pair combined to score 43 of the Hornets’ 59 points. Arico scored a career best 33 points, landing five three-pointers as Saline defeated the Woodhaven Warriors 59-54 in overtime. Yaklich added 10 points, to go with his six assists.
It was a gritty performance by the Hornets, who trailed by as much as eight points with six minutes to go in the third quarter. But Arico and Yaklich, joined by senior forward Tyler Belskus, put the team on their shoulders and led comeback win.
Having made just free throws, the Hornets didn’t make their first field goal until there were 49 seconds left in the quarter. Then Arico hit a short jumper to the left of the free throw line. Twenty seconds later, Arico hit the first of his six three-pointers in the game, to close out the scoring in the opening quarter with Saline trailing 16-12.
The second quarter featured tight defense as both teams raced up and down the court but points were hard to come by. Though Saline outrebounded the Warriors 9-6 in the second quarter, they trailed 26-20 heading into the locker room at the half.
Whatever Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick said in the locker room at the half, it worked. Arico came out and scored from all over the court. Fifty seconds into the quarter, he hit a three. At the 5:44 mark, he sank a short jumper from the corner. Seconds later, he drained another three to cut the Warrior’s lead to 35-29.
Arico added more thunder to close out the third quarter by scoring another five points. The Hornets trailed 40-34 with eight minutes of basketball to play.
And what a wild final quarter it was.
The Hornets played tight defense and constantly took the ball to the basket, forcing the Warriors into fouling which sent Saline to the foul line. To start the quarter, Yaklich converted both free throws and junior forward Anthony Ferrari converted three of four foul shots.
At the 4:42 mark, Belskus hit a three-pointer from the corner to draw the Hornets within three, 45-42. A little over a minute later, another three-pointer from Arico knotted the score at 45-45.
Yaklich hit a crucial jump shot to put the Hornets up by two, 47-45 with 2:45 left. A minute later, junior guard Jaden Pickett hit a three-point jump shot from the corner, in front of the screaming Saline High School student section, to give the Hornets a 50-47 lead.
Woodhaven drove to the basket, hit the shot and converted the free throw to knot the score at 50-50. Saline called a timeout with 8.8 seconds left. The Hornets took an off-balance shot which missed but was rebounded by Belskus, who was fouled with 0:00.4 seconds left.
He calmly stepped to the free-throw line, exhaled a deep breath, and took the shot. The shot bounced off the rim, sending the game into overtime.
As the team was walking towards the Saline bench to get ready for overtime, Arico and Yaklich walked over to Belskus, and patted him on the back.
As they walked to center court to start overtime, Arico and Yaklich looked towards their teammates, and mouthed the words, “we got this”.
Belskus won opening tip-off to start overtime. Two passes later, Belskus hit a jump shot to give Saline a 52-50 lead. Woodhaven quickly tied the score.
Then the Hornets went on the attack with Yaklich serving as the quarterback for the offense. The Warriors were guarding Arico, trying to deny him the ball.
Following a screen set by Ferrari, Arico broke free, received a pass from Yaklich, and hit another three-pointer to give Saline a 55-52 lead.
In the final minute of play, Yaklich, Belskus, Ferrari and Arico all went to the foul line. Yaklich and Belskus each hit one of two to up the lead to 57-54. With 0.07.6 seconds left, Arico went to the line, sank both shots to seal the 59-54 victory.
Following the dramatic come from behind win, Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick was very proud of his team’s effort. He also heaped praise on the Saline High School students for coming out to support the team. They were loud throughout the entire game.
“I want to thank the students for coming out and supporting the team tonight,” Fosdick said. “I felt we were really connected with the crowd tonight and it made a huge difference.”
Fosdick was especially pleased with the fighting spirit the team showed.
“The guys kept fighting tonight. They kept battling. Even when we fell behind, they did what they were asked to do.”
Fosdick was not surprised by the game that Arico had, scoring 33 points. “Trevor fixes his own problems. When he had an off night on Tuesday, he got back in the gym and worked on shooting. He gets better through his work ethic,” Fosdick said.
With the victory, the Hornets evened their season record at 1-1. They get back into action Thursday night when they travel to Southgate Anderson High School. Tip off time is 7 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Trevor Arico (33 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich (10 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists)
3rd Star: Tyler Belskus (8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 blocked shot)
Honorable Mention: Saline High School Student Section
JV SQUAD CRUSHES WOODHAVEN 60-33, EVENS RECORD AT 1-1
“We had two very good days of practice and it showed in our play tonight,” said JV Head Coach Jason Pickett.
It must have been some very good practice time as the Hornets came out with a 10-1 run and never looked back, crushing the Woodhaven Warriors 60-33 Friday night at Saline High School. The Hornets evened their record at 1-1 on the year.
It may have been the best first quarter the team will have all year. The Hornets forced the Warriors into six first quarter turnovers and cruised to a 20-3 first quarter lead.
The Hornets were never threatened so Coach Pickett was able to substitute players throughout the entire game. In fact, every player on the roster except junior guard Kieran Dean scored.
The Hornets were led by sophomore guard Evan Merillat’s 13 points. Sophomore guard Braden LaRusso had 11, Romeo Love chipped in with 8.
Gavin Mesman and Nicholas Boettger each had 6, Joshua Koch ended with 4.
Samuel Jane and Evan Grill chipped in with three apiece while George Van Haaften and freshman Garrett Baldwin had two.
“When we play together as a team, good things happen,” Pickett said. “I kept telling everyone don’t try to do too much, just do your job and we will be fine.” By the team’s performance, it seems as if they got the message.
The JV squad will travel to Southgate Anderson next Thursday evening to take on the Southgate Anderson Titans. Game time in 5:30 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Evan Merillat (13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Braden LaRusso (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists)
3rd Star: Romeo Love (8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist)
FRESHMEN DOWN WOODHAVEN 46-42, RECORD CLIMBS TO 1-1
The Saline freshmen team hung on to defeat the Woodhaven Warriors 46-42 Friday night to even their season record at 1-1.
Freshmen Head Coach Kirk Boettcher said he was very proud of his team. “The guys had a good couple of days of practice, and I am very proud of how they played tonight. They showed good effort tonight and that was how well they have practiced,” Boettcher said.
The win evens the Hornets’ record at 1-1. They travel to Southgate Anderson High School on Thursday. Game time is 4 p.m.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS:
1st Star: Samuel Miller (16 points)
2nd Star: Matthew Walper (9 points)
3rd Star: Roman Laurio (8 points)