The Saline girls basketball team has rushed to a 4-0 start. Helping lead the charge is senior Steffi Bentley. The 6’1 senior scored 26 points as Saline bested Livonia Stevenson, 62-32, Friday at Saline High School.
Bentley scored most of her points from the paint. She also had 11 rebounds.
Remarkably, Bentley has set career highs in three of the four games the Hornets have played.
Coach Leigh Ann Roehm said Bentley’s great play is no accident.
“She’s had moments of greatness. Greatness is always a result of hard work, putting in the time to do the right things and a commitment that’s unparalleled. Steffi did that all spring, all summer and all fall,” Roehm said.
Bentley and junior Ella Stemmer have been nearly unstoppable early this season. The only thing that slowed down Stemmer on Friday was foul trouble. She had two early fouls in the first quarter. She re-entered the game in the second quarter and immediately picked up her third foul, so she returned to the bench. Stemmer was limited to just two points in the first half. Still, she finished with 17 points. But with Stemmer on the bench, Bentley dominated under the rim, scoring 15 points in the first half.
Bentley agreed with Roehm’s assessment about her offseason work.
“I came to all the workouts that we had and I’ve been working on my shot a lot. I also feel like I’m in a lot better shape than I was. I’m better a posting up, too. I think I’ve gotten a little bit stronger,” Bentley said.
And, she said, she’s getting the ball more.
“We didn’t pass the ball into the post that much last year. I’m getting a lot more looks this year. My teammates just find me when I’m open and we’re moving the ball better this year,” Bentley said.
Saline opened the scoring with a free throw basket by Bentley three minutes into the contest. The Hornets rebounded Bentley’s second shot and then Stemmer rebounded the next shot and put it back to make it 3-0. Moments later, Liz Sekerak took a pass from Stemmer and sliced through the lane for a lay-up, making it 5-0.
Stevenson scored the next three points. Bentley made it 7-3 with another basket from the post. She made it 10-5 before the end of the quarter when she made a basket while being fouled and then made her free throw.
The second quarter began the way the first ended, with Bentley converting another three-point play with a layup and free throw. After a Stevenson basket, Saline went on a 6-0 run. Bentley made a couple free throws and followed that up with a lay-up. Natalie Sweetland added two points from the stripe. Livonia ended the run with a point from the free throw line. But Saline went on another six-point run. Amera Boyd sped through the lane for lay-up. Sweetland scored. And then Bentley put back a rebound. Saline led 25-8 and took the lead into the dressing room.
Saline was just getting started. The Hornets exploded for 20 points in the third.
Stemmer charged through the paint for a lay-up. After a basket by Stevenson, Saline went on a seven-point run. Sekerak started it with a layup. The next five points came from Bentley. First she knocked down three of four free throws. Then she made a layup.
After another Stevenson basket, Saline went on a nine-point run.
Bentley put back a rebound to start the run. Sekerak hit a three-pointer. Stemmer followed with back-to-back baskets. Beth Ann Ford finished a basket. Saline led 45-13. Stevenson added two baskets late in the quarter to make it 45-17.
Stemmer seemed to be making up for lost time in the fourth. She scored nine of Saline’s 17 points with a three, a couple layups and two free throws.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
Steffi Bentley - The Saline senior showed promise and progress as a junior. But she’s topped 20 points in three of four contests. She’s using her height and her reach to take passes and get rebounds - and put up shots that rarely miss. Her rebounding is also much improved.
Ella Stemmer - Despite barely playing in the first half due to foul trouble, the Saline junior managed to score 17 points in the home opener. She scored 15 of those points in the second half -- with several fierce drives through the paint.
Liz Sererak - The Saline senior scored eight points and played tough defense throughout the night.