Hornets lose in overtime 44-41 to Pioneer, drop to 3-1
The Saline Hornets faced off against long-time rival Ann Arbor Pioneer in front of a loud, raucous crowd Friday night at Saline High School. The student sections for both schools were very vocal, causing Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick to lose his voice after having to shout in his instructions for his team. Pioneer senior guard Drew Lowder led all scorers with 17 points. Lowder is considered a potential college division one hoops recruit. Returning to watch the Hornets play were former Saline hoops stars, including Matt Rosati (The Man of Steel), Ryan Foley, Justin “Juice” Zlystra and Calder Pellerin.
They watched a great game. But unfortunately for the alumni, Pioneer won in overtime, 44-41.
The play in the game was typical of play in the SEC Red Division: Physical. And in a close game such as this, officiating can have a huge impact upon the game’s eventual outcome. In a game where the teams are pretty evenly matched, you always hope that the game gets settled on the court, by the players.
To demonstrate the closeness for the game, here are some statistics.
- Pioneer committed 16 turnovers, Saline 13.
- Pioneer grabbed 19 rebounds, Saline 20.
- Pioneer had 5 assists, Saline had 8.
But there was one stat that wasn’t evenly matched.
- Saline made 3 of 8 free throws for the game.
- Pioneer converted 16 of 25.
And that was the difference. At the end of the first half, the officials had called three fouls against Saline. What changed with Saline’s play in the second half that prompted them to call three times as many fouls, the home crowd is still trying to figure out. But tonight’s Saline fans are like many others around the conference. They walk away from games against the Ann Arbor hoops teams scratching their heads.
Both teams played a stifling style of defense. Scoring any points was tough all night. Every basket was contested. Pioneer employed a full court press the entire night. Toward the end of the game, the press produced some turnovers, that led to points.
“We didn’t handle the pressure as well as we could have late in the game. We started to not make plays when pressured, trying to do too much. That is something we coaches can do a better job in preparing them for this kind of pressure,” coach Fosdick said.
In a game this physical, the Hornets have the players who can play that style. The team relied heavily on senior forward Emmett Turner. Like other games this season, Turner was a beast under the basket. He is the vocal and physical leader of this young team. His ferociousness, his encouragement of his younger teammates kept the Hornets close throughout the game.
Pioneer raced out to an 11-7 first quarter lead.
Saline was led in the opening quarter by junior forward Connor Terech who scored the first four points off of assists by Turner. Sophomore guard Griffin Yaklich also chipped in four points.
The Hornets’ big men scored all nine second quarter points, with Turner netting four, Terech three and senior forward Adam Heisler scoring two.
Saline went to the locker room trailing 17-16 at the half.
Junior guard Ryan Koch scored the first four points of the third quarter to put Saline up 19-18. With less than five minutes left in the quarter, Turner picked up his third foul and headed to the bench. Pioneer went on a 9-0 run, going up 26-21 with a minute to go in the third. Yaklich converted on a short jump shot to pull Saline within three, 26-23 heading into the final quarter.
Yaklich and senior forward Erik Wenning hit back-to-back threes to start the fourth quarter to give Saline a 29-28 lead. Turner re-entered the game and added another bucket to put the Hornets up 31-30 with 2:52 remaining.
And then, he was whistled for an offensive foul, his fourth. And while the play continued, and before Coach Fosdick could substitute another player for Turner, he was assessed another offensive foul, and had fouled out of the game with 1:51 left. That fifth foul called on Turner was loudly booed by the home town fans, and had Pioneer Coach Rick Marion smiling. A lesser team could have packed it in and given up. But like the Rocky Balboa in the movies, the team got up off the mat and was still able to take the fight to the Pioneers.
Wenning drove to the basket to give Saline a 33-30 lead. With the final seconds ticking off, Pioneer drove down the court and sank a three-point shot to knot the score at 33, with 9.1 seconds left. As Saline was in-bounding the ball at mid-court, Pioneer defenders were playing very tight defense, what some would call full body contact defense. As Wenning made the in-bounds pass, the Pioneer defender knocked Yaklich to the ground, tied up Heiser and made Saline try to inbound the ball again, with 4.1 seconds left. Wenning got a pass to Yaklich who put up a desperation shot in an attempt to win the game, but the ball hit the backboard and fell harmlessly to the court.
In the overtime period, Pioneer scored first going up 35-33.
Koch then hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to give Saline a 36-35 lead. Pioneer went up by four, and Wenning missed two chances at the free throw line.
With Pioneer leading 40-36, Yaklich hit another three to cut the lead to 40-39. But that was all the scoring Saline would do, as the Pioneer fans stormed the court following their 44-39 win. With the loss, the Hornets’ record stands at 3-1 on the season, 0-1 in the SEC Red division.
Fosdick was down following his team’s heart-breaking loss.
“We just didn’t make enough plays at the end,” Fosdick said. “We weren’t jumping to the ball tonight, and breaks were not going our way. I though we handled Pioneer’s pressure OK during the first half but not so well in the second half. We will work on that in practice and do better in the future.”
Fosdick said he talked to his team following the game, saying that it was important not to lose to Pioneer twice. But they’ve got more pressing matters at hand.
“We have Monroe next Tuesday, and then Southgate Anderson, so we can’t dwell on this game and not be ready for the next one.”
Saline will host the Monroe Trojans Tuesday night. Tip off time is 7 p.m.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Emmett “The Beast” Turner (8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, I blocked shot)
2nd Star: Connor “The Junior Beast” Terech (9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Griffin Yaklich (11 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists)
Hornet JV Squad Beats Pioneer, Record Stands at 3-1
Saline jumped out to a 9-3 lead, en route to 18-5 first quarter thrashing of the Ann Arbor Pioneers. The Hornets never trailed in the game, as eight players registered points. The JV squad was led by the strong play of freshman forward Anthony Ferrari. Ferrari is a beast in the making. His strong play on the boards was the highlight of the game. Ferrari finished the game with 15 rebounds, including nine in the second half.
Head Coach Jason Pickett was proud of his team’s effort in the game. “We came out focused tonight, playing tough defense. Anytime you can limit a team to five points in a quarter, that’s pretty good defense. We got a little sloppy in the second half but we will continue to work on that.”
The JV squad will host the Monroe Trojans Tuesday night in Saline. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Anthony Ferrari (5 points, 15 rebounds)
2nd Star: Nathan Holmberg (7 points, 4 rebounds)
3rd Star: Jason Head (4 points, 3 rebounds)
FRESHMEN BEAT PIONEER 42-28, EVEN RECORD AT 2-2
The Saline freshman team evened its season record to 2-2, defeating Ann Arbor Pioneer 42-28 Friday night at Saline High School. Saline outscored the Pioneers in the first three quarters, then matched them point for point in the final quarter to easily win the game. Coach Brian Whitley said that he played just 7-8 players in the game, and that he informed his team that each of them will need to compete in practice for playing time in games. “We got a lot better at playing zone defense tonight and we limited Pioneer to just one shot. I told the guys that everyone needs to compete in practice for playing time in a game. The energy level in the game tonight should make for good, tough practices in the future.”
The freshmen squad will take on the Monroe Trojans Tuesday night in Saline. Top off time is 5:30 p.m.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Luke Rykard (8 points)
2nd Star: Jack Doorlag (7 points)
3rd Star: Eli Trese (9 points)