Friday night was designated as senior night. It was a time for Saline students and fans to honor the senior Saline varsity basketball team and cheerleaders in a pregame ceremony. The Saline High School gym was packed. The stage was set.
Unfortunately, the Hornets were hosting the Ann Arbor Skyline Eagles. The Eagles came into the game 17-0, ranked second in the state. Skyline is clearly the best of the SEC and is poised to make a long run in the upcoming MHSAA post-season state tournament.
The Eagles jumped out to an 18-8 first quarter lead on the strength of the shooting of their guards Ryan and Brandon Wade. The duo connected on three-point shots from all over the floor. The Hornets’ vaulted zone defense was ineffective against the red-hot shooting by Skyline.
Sophomore guard Trevor “Thunder” Arico got the scoring started for the Hornets when hit a short jump shot to cut Skyline’s lead to 3-2 at the 5:00 minute mark. The Eagles ended the first quarter with an 11-2 run to lead 18-8 at the end of the first.
Saline was able to trim that lead down to seven at the half, 26-19 as Arico (5 points), along with junior forwards Ethan Friedrichsen (4 points) and Connor Terech (2 points) provided the offensive power. Friedrichsen once again came off the bench to provide some punch to the offense and defense.
With 5:22 remaining in the half, following a Skyline turnover, Friedrichsen muscled his way under the basket to score off an offensive rebound. That cut the Hornet deficit to five, 21-16. Arico closed put the home team’s scoring of the first half when he hit a three-pointer with 3:33 left and pulled the Hornets within four, 23-19.
The senior co-captains, Emmett “The Beast” Turner and Erik “Baywatch” Wenning scored nine of Saline’s twelve third quarter points to trail Skyline by six, 37-31 heading into the final quarter. Arico closed out the scoring hitting another three-pointer, one of four for the game. Arico came off a screen set by Turner, received a pass from sophomore guard Griffin Yaklich and took a shot from the top of the key.
Skyline opened the final quarter with an 8-0 run on the strength of their three-point shooting. The Hornets managed to score 15 points, the most points of any quarter in the game but surrendered 20-points to the Eagles. Yaklich scored his only points of the game in the final quarter but helped get his teammates involved in the scoring by picking up four assists. Friedrichsen and Arico each netted five points in the fourth quarter.
What was interesting is that Skyline did not make a single free throw (0-3) on the night. Saline was 9 of 15 from the charity stripe.
After the game you could tell the loss weighed on the faces of the seniors. Turner walked by as reporters were interviewing Fosdick after the game. His face said it all. Though this is a young man with a very bright future, the pained look of Turner’s face showed everyone that this warrior wanted to win.
Following the game, a subdued Saline Head Coach talked about the game and the Hornets’ season.
“I am very proud of how we competed tonight. This is a great group of kids,” Fosdick said. “Saline is a great place to play sports for kids, the gym tonight was packed. Students were here. The town was here.”
Fosdick continued, “I thought we had a good first half. But we made four turnovers to start the second half and you just can’t do that if you expect to win.”
Coach Fosdick reflected on his team and looked forward to next week’s games and the district tournament.
“The SEC is a basketball league. Basketball is the sport that defines the SEC. And we can compete with the best. We will get back into practice and work on correcting the things that didn’t work for us tonight. Chelsea is a good team and Ypsilanti is always tough,” Fosdick said.
The loss to the Eagles drops Saline’s season record to 9-9, 3-7 in the SEC Red. The Hornets travel to Chelsea on Tuesday to take on the Bulldogs. Game time is 7 p.m.
SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1st Star: Trevor ‘Thunder’ Arico (16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Emmett ‘The Beast’ Turner (10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists)
3rd Star: Ethan Friedrichsen (8 points, 2 rebounds)
JV SQUAD BEATS SKYLINE, UPS RECORD TO 11-7
The Hornets JV squad beat the Ann Arbor Skyline Eagles 46-34 Friday night at Saline High School. It was the second win of the season over the Eagles this season. The win was in front of a large crowd as it was the last home game of the season for the Hornets.
Sophomore guard Ben Stack opened the scoring sinking a three-point shot, giving Saline a 3-0 lead at the 7:19 mark. And from then, the Hornets never trailed in the game. Sophomore forward Jason Head hit a three of his own to up Saline’s lead, with the first quarter ending with the Hornet’s on top, 7-5.
Balanced scoring in the second and third quarters helped Saline pull away. Paced by freshman forward Anthony Ferrari and sophomore guard Will Branham, along with sophomore guard Josh Finn, the Hornets headed into the fourth quarter leading 35-25.
In the final quarter, sophomore forward Tyler Belskus dazzled the crowd with some slick ball handling and scoring. On one play, Belskus recovered a Skyline turnover, made a behind the back move to evade a defender, dribbled half the court to score, to the roar of the partisan home crowd. His teammates jumped from the bench to cheer the play.
“All year long I have stressed team, team, team,” said JV Head Coach Jason Pickett. “A team will always win. And tonight, we were the better team.”
Pickett also had praise for how his team keeps working to improve.
“In every practice, in every game, the kids strive to get better. To play together better as a team. I hope we continue to improve through next week to finish the season strong.”
The JV squad will travel to Chelsea on Tuesday to take on the Bulldogs. Tip off time is 5:30 p.m.
SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Anthony Ferrari (11 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Josh Finn (8 points, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Luke Darmos (6 points, 7 rebounds)
FRESHMAN CLOSE OUT HOME SCHEDULE WITH WIN
The Hornet freshman hoops squad closed out their home schedule with a convincing win over the Ann Arbor Skyline Eagles 62-51 Friday night. Saline raced out to a 18-13 first quarter lead and never looked back.
The young Hornet squad played a very efficient fourth quarter as Skyline applied intense defensive pressure which was handled with ease, often resulting in easy lay-ups.
Freshman Head Coach Brian Whitely credited the win to defense. “We have stressed defense in every practice this year. The kids are really getting it and it shows in our games.”
The win ups the freshman team’s record to 11-7 on the season. They will travel to Chelsea on Tuesday. Game time is 4p.m.
SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1st Star: Eli Trece (14 points)
2nd Star: Jack Allen (9 points)
3rd Star: Luke Rykard (6 points)