“Sometimes after a loss, you need to pick yourself up off the ground, learn from it and know you’ll play better the next game.”
That is what six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said following his team’s loss in last Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game to the Tennessee Titans.
The Saline varsity basketball team lost Saturday afternoon in the Belleville High School gym 63-55 to the fifth-ranked Detroit Douglas Hurricanes in the 5th Annual Fastbreak Invitational. The Hurricanes starting lineup included five players: 6’7”, 6’4”, 6’5”, 6’6” and 6’9”. Junior sensation Pierre Brooks already has college offers from several division one basketball schools, including The University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
The Hurricanes out rebounded the Hornets 30-19 for the game, limiting the Hornets to just two offensive rebounds. Both teams played remarkably turn-over free basketball, despite the tenacious defense. The Hornets turned the ball over eight times, Detroit Douglas nine times.
The Hurricanes used a couple of six point runs in the opening quarter to open up a seven-point lead, 16-9 before senior guard Trevor Arico hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 16-12, before Brooks hit another three-pointer for the Hurricanes. Douglas led 19-12 at the end of one.
“I thought some of the guys weren’t playing with much confidence in the first half,” said Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick. “It took time for some of the guys to get into the pace of the game. We did much better in the second half.”
That has been a characteristic of Fosdick his entire coaching career in Saline. He consults his assistant coaches before going into the locker room at the half, make some adjustments and his teams come out and play better ball in the second half.
Douglas came out in the second quarter and continued what they started, going on a 5-0 run to up their lead to 24-12. The Hornets were limited to taking just one shot and the Hurricanes would grab the rebound.
You often hear about senior leadership when talking about high school sports. Seniors Trevor Arico and Griffin Yaklich came alive in the second quarter and began to mount a counterattack to the Hurricanes.
Arico hit a jump shot with 4:06 left to cut the lead to 24-15. Yaklich then put together two strong drives to the net seconds apart to cut the lead to 31-20 at the half.
I would like to go into the Hornet locker room at the half sometime to hear what Fosdick says to his team. When the Hornets came out to start the second half, it was a different team. It was like the team recognized they were bleeding from the mouth. But they got up off the ground and played better.
Especially Yaklich and Arico, “Thunder” & “Lightning”. They were electric in the second half. Yaklich grabbed an offensive rebound with 6:29 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 31-22. A minute later junior guard Derek Caldwell hit a three-pointer to make is 33-25.
Then Yaklich went into overdrive and made two slashing drives to the hoop to cut the lead to 38-29. Arico hit a three-pointer from the side of the key to make it 41-32. Senior forward Tyler Belskus hit a three from the corner to send the Hornets into the final quarter trailing 46-35.
“Thunder” and “Lightning” scored 15 of the 20 fourth quarter points scored by the Hornets. Arico sank a trio of three-point shots while Yaklich put on an offensive show with his hard drives to the net. The Hornets were also playing very tight defense forcing the Hurricanes into three fourth quarter turnovers, which were quickly converted to points. Arico created some thunder heard all the way back to Saline when he hit two three-point shots within thirty seconds to cut the Hurricanes lead to 57-52 with a little over a minute to play.
I sat next to the official scorekeeper during the game. He is assistant basketball coach at a college program. He said during the time out following Arico’s second three-pointer, “now we got a game. It is a two-possession game and these boys from Saline believe they can win. Yes sir, now we have a game.”
And that is the magic that the basketball coaches bring to the table. A team that believed that they had little chance of winning before the game had put themselves in a position where in the final minute, they could win.
And a funny thing about that time out with 1:13 to go, the players on the other bench believed it too.
Not every story has a fairy-book ending. Following the timeout, the Hornets defense came through with a turnover. They worked their play in the offensive zone, they got a player free at the top of the key for a three-point shot. It hit off the rim, rebounded by the Hurricanes. The player was immediately fouled. The opportunity was lost.
But maybe there was something bigger that was won. The Hornets lost 63-55 to the #5 ranked team in Michigan. Maybe in their hearts and minds, they gained that illusive confidence needed to know that they can compete against all teams, regardless of the hype and fanfare.
SEC Red Conference play begins on Tuesday when the Hornets host the Bedford Kicking Mules at 7 p.m. Following the bruising SEC schedule, the high school version of March Madness awaits.
Perhaps this team has gained Saturday what is needed to bring Saline Head Coach Jake Fosdick his first district championship. Time will tell but the ride is sure to be fun to watch.
The Saline Post Three Stars:
1st Star: Trevor Arico (20 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Griffin Yaklich (18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists)
3rd Star: Tyler Belskus (9 points, 4 rebounds)