When Jake Fosdick took over the struggling varsity basketball program at Saline High School he declared “all offense begins with defense.” Through the years Hornet teams have lived and breathed this motto.
Hornet stars from yesteryear, such as “The Man of Steel” Matt Rosati, “The Beast” Emmett Turner, “The Dynamic Duo” Jake Finkbeiner and Ryan Foley or “Juice” Justin Zylstra, would have been proud of this year’s team following their impressive 73-55 win on the road over the Bedford Kicking Mules Friday night. The win raised the team’s season record to 9-5, 3-2 in the SEC Red Division.
Traveling to Bedford, located in Temperance, is about a 50-minute drive. Driving to Temperance on a cold, dreary winter night is like spending an hour in a boat on the waves of Lake Superior, when you finish your ride, it takes a while to get your land legs under you.
That describes the first five minutes of Friday night’s game. The Hornets were just not in any kind of offensive or defensive rhythm. Saline jumped out to a brief 3-2 lead following a jump shot by junior guard Trevor “Thunder” Arico. Saline and Bedford traded scores before the Kicking Mules went on a 7-0 run, forcing Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick to call a time out with the Hornets trailing 14-5.
Whatever Fosdick said in the 30-second timeout worked. The Hornets came out and scored the next six points, closing the score to 14-11 with 3:05 left in the quarter. Saline forced two late turnovers which were quickly converted to points by freshman guard Cooper Fairman and junior guard Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich. As the first eight minutes of the game ended, Saline was trailing by only two, 17-15.
The second quarter was vintage Fosdick. Making some defensive adjustments between the first and second quarter, the Hornets swarmed the Kicking Mules and put on a clinic in defensive basketball. Fosdick asked senior captain Peter Jacobsen to guard Bedford’s top scorer, junior Matt Kohler. Jacobsen, as he has done all season, shut down his opponent.
And while Jacobsen was leading the defense, six different players scored from all over the court. Bedford scored four points before sophomore guard Derek Caldwell pulled Saline to within four, 21-17. Jacobsen converted a short jump shot to cut the lead to 23-19. The Hornets then went on an 8-0 run, aided by four Bedford turnovers, to jump out to a 29-23 lead.
In the 8-0 Hornet run, Fairman connected on a three-point shot and another bucket, while Yaklich and senior forward Logan Evans also connected.
The first half ended with a last second basket by Arico, who grabbed a loose ball, turned and fired a desperation shot that hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded to end the first half. A charged up Arico ran jumping and pumping his fist to the locker room having given Saline a 34-26 lead at the half.
In the second quarter, Saline outscored the Kicking Mules 19-9, while forcing seven turnovers.
This hoops team has been using each game to learn, and against Bedford the team played like their collective foot was on the gas pedal and they were unrelenting in their offensive and defensive pressure.
Fifteen seconds into the third quarter Logan grabbed a rebound and tipped it in. Forty seconds later Arico created some thunder with an impressive 30-foot three-pointer to give Saline a 39-29 lead. Jacobsen then added a free throw and another basket to up the Hornet lead to 42-30.
Yaklich put on an offensive show, scoring the final six points of the quarter, including a full court drive following a Bedford turnover to give Saline a 50-40 lead heading into the final quarter.
The final eight minutes of the game must have put a smile on Coach Fosdick’s face as his team performed flawlessly. Thirty seconds in, Fairman connected on a beautiful three-point shot. Seconds later Logan grabbed and offensive rebound and was fouled while making a lay-up, giving the Hornets a 56-42 lead.
Thirty seconds later Jacobsen sank both free throws and then Logan converted both of his free throws. Fairman and Arico connected on jumpers to up Saline’s lead to 64-48, with 4:55 left.
The exclamation mark on the victory came with 1:59 left in the game when senior Logan Evans received a pass from Yaklich, then went up for his first slam dunk of the season. The fans in the stands, as well as players on the bench, erupted following the dunk as Evans ran the length of the court with a huge smile on his face.
Following the game Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick was very proud of his team. “Bedford took it to us at the start of the game, so give them credit. But I asked Peter (Jacobsen) to guard their top scorer, and once again he did what was asked of him.”
“I can’t say enough about Pete,” Fosdick continued. “We had six seniors who didn’t return for their senior season but Pete did. He had faith in me and he is a Hornet. He will always be a Hornet.”
For the game Saline shot 12 of 14 from the free throw line (85.7%). When asked about that stat, Fosdick smiled and said, “it’s time I had a team who could shoot free throws”.
Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich led the winning effort scoring 20 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. Trevor “Thunder” Arico had 15 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists, Cooper Fairman connected for 14 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists while Logan Evans had 13 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist.
Fosdick was asked about the Hornet’s schedule next week, traveling to Ann Arbor three times to take on Huron, Pioneer and Skyline, all of the road.
“It’s great preparation for the districts,” Fosdick said. “At the districts we start with Huron on Monday, then Pioneer on Wednesday and another good team on Friday.”
“This is what a basketball player lives for,” Fosdick continued, “it’s a challenge and we will be ready.”
It will be a challenge and the team can use as much fan/student support as can make the trip to Ann Arbor. The Hornets will take on the Ann Arbor Huron River Rats on Monday, Pioneer on Wednesday and Skyline on Friday. Game time for all games is 7 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1st Star: Peter Jacobsen (7 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists & tremendous defense all night)
2nd Star: Cooper Fairman (14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
3rd Star: Logan Evans (13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist & 1 beautiful slam dunk)
And of course, Yaklich and Arico, Saline’s own “Thunder” & “Lightning”, played their special brand of basketball, and are highlights of every game.
JV SQUAD STINGS KICKING MULES, STAND 13-1 ON SEASON
Coming off an impressive 54-41 road win over the Bedford Kicking Mules Friday night, the Saline junior varsity squad now stands at 13-1 on the year. Leading 28-19 at the half, the Hornets pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Bedford 12-5 to take a commanding 40-24 lead into the final quarter.
Sophomore forward Luke Darmos hauled in five rebounds in the third quarter, including four offensive rebounds, to lead the attack. Following the game JV Head Coach Jason Pickett was impressed with how his team plays together.
“I am really impressed how the guys really play together,” said Pickett. “You play defense as a unit. You help each other out and you get the ball to whoever is open to take the shot.”
“Defense is what we do,” Pickett continued, “we work on it at every practice.”
The Hornets shot a dismal 6 of 18 from the free throw line against Bedford. When asked about the team’s free throw shooting, Picket said, “we work on free throws every practice.” “It is important that when you miss a free throw that you forget about the last one and concentrate on the next one.”
The Kicking Mules were going with a full court press against the Hornets but really didn’t slow down the attack. The coach said his team likes to get pressed because it creates mis-matches at the other end of the court.
“Of course, having said that, we know that Huron will press us the entire game on Monday,” Pickett said. “I guess the proof about how much we liked to get pressed will come on Monday against Huron because they really know how to press you.”
The JV squad has a busy schedule next week, traveling to Ann Arbor on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They will face the Ann Arbor Huron River Rats on Monday, Pioneer on Wednesday and Skyline on Friday. All games begin at 5:30 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1st Star: Luke Darmos (17 points)
2nd Star: Benjamin Sundquist (16 points)
3rd Star: Nicholas Walper (7 points)
Game details were not available at press time for the Saline freshmen team but Freshman Head Coach Zach Fosdick reported that the team beat the Bedford Kicking Mules in double-overtime 70-63 on Friday night in Bedford. The win raises the team’s record to 12-2 on the season.
The freshmen are on the road next week. They will play Ann Arbor Huron on Monday, Pioneer on Wednesday and Skyline on Friday. All games will start at 4 p.m.