Playing three games in five days, all of the road, all against tough SEC rivals from Ann Arbor, proved to be especially tough on the Hornets as they dropped a 51-45 decision Friday night against the Skyline Eagles. The loss was the team’s third in a row, dropping their season record to 9-8, 3-4 in the SEC Red Division.
“To win games in the SEC, you have to excel in two areas: rebounding and free-throw shooting,” Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick said following the game. “Rebounding is 75 percent desire. Height and physicality also matter but you have to be able to move people out from under the basket. We didn’t do that tonight.”
The Eagles out-rebounded the Hornets 34-19, including nine offensive rebounds which were converted to easy points. Saline was 7 of 17 (41%) from the free throw line. Griffin Yaklich, normally a very steady free-throw shooter, converted just 1 of 7 for the game.
The Hornets started slow, falling behind 10-3 before senior forward Logan Evans connected on a three-point shot from the corner. Senior guard Peter Jacobsen hit a short jump with 59 seconds left in the quarter to cut the Skyline lead to 15-8 as the first quarter ended.
The Hornets played their best quarter of the game in the second, with Jacobsen connecting fifteen seconds in. Seconds later, junior guard Trevor Arico hit a jumper and then thirty seconds later sank two free throws to cut Skyline’s lead to 15-14.
Sophomore guard Anthony Ferrari sank a short jumper. Jacobsen was fouled while shooting and converted both free throws to pull the Hornets to within one, 19-18.
The final four minutes of the quarter was full of thunder and lightning. Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich and Trevor “Thunder” Arico scored Saline’s final five points to send the Hornets to the locker room at the half trailing, 26-23.
The Hornets must have come out of halftime with their heads in a mental fog. Skyline went on a 7-0 to start the quarter, forcing Fosdick to call a time-out. Even then, it took the Hornets another three minutes to finally get on the scoreboard when Ferrari made a short jumper to cut the Eagles’ lead to 35-25.
Jacobsen hit a three-point shot with 50 seconds left.
Skyline outscored Saline 9-5 in the third quarter to take a 35-28 lead.
The Hornets fought the good fight in the fourth quarter. They got within three points on three separate occasions. Evans grabbed an offensive rebound to cut the lead to 35-30.
Arico scored. Then Yaklich.
Then Arico to make it 39-36 with 4:49 left.
Yaklich drove hard to the basket, sank a lay-up and was fouled. He missed the free throw.
Yaklich drove again hard to the basket and was fouled. He missed both free throws.
With time running out, the Hornets were forced to foul Skyline. The strategy worked for a while as Skyline failed to convert from the free throw line.
With :28 seconds left, Skyline was called for a technical foul. Arico sank one of the two free throws.
On the in-bounds play, Arico sank a three-point shot.
Yaklich sank a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to pull the Hornets within six, 51-45 as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“We are a couple of plays away,” Fosdick said. “But to win, you got to be right on your opponent throughout the entire game.” “You have to make shots,” Fosdick continued. “You have to play 32 minutes of basketball, competing every minute if you want to win.”
The Hornets return to action on Tuesday evening when they will host Monroe.
“They are not the same team we played earlier. Monroe lost to Skyline last week by three points,” Fosdick said. “Just because we are not playing an Ann Arbor team doesn’t mean we don’t have to play hard. If we let down, we will lose.”
Game time is 7 p.m. at Saline High School.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1st Star: Trevor “Thunder” Arico (15 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists)
2nd Star: Peter Jacobsen (9 points, 2 assists)
3rd Star: Logan Evans (5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 blocked shot)
JV SQUAD LOSES TO SKYLINE, 57-51, RECORD STANDS AT 14-3
Friday night on the road, the Saline junior varsity squad played well enough to win. They probably should have won.
But as many a coach in the SEC will tell you, when you play in Ann Arbor, officiating can become very unpredictable.
On Monday night against the Huron River Rats, Huron shot 20 free throws, the Hornets 2. On Friday night against Skyline, the Eagles shot 20 free throws, the Hornets eight. That is called home cooking.
And it can happen to any team that travels to Ann Arbor, whether it is freshmen, junior varsity or varsity. Just ask any opposing coach. A few years back, (when Fosdick was the JV coach) the Saline varsity squad was playing the River Rats under the dome stadium in Ann Arbor. Huron shot 32 times, Saline 4. Only in Ann Arbor.
The Hornets played the Eagles evenly throughout the game. They were tied 13-13 at the end of the first. Sophomore guards Nicholas Dils and Eli Trese led the attack with six points and four points, respectively.
In the second quarter, Saline held a brief lead 27-24 with two minutes remaining. Skyline managed to score the last six points to take a 30-27 lead at the half.
In the quarter, five different Hornet players scored. Sophomore forward Luke Darmos opened the scoring with a jump shot, cutting the lead to 33-30. Benjamin Sundquist connected on a three-pointer. Sophomore guard Nicholas Walper connected on another three-pointer, followed by two baskets from Dils but the Eagles had increased their lead to 43-39.
Freshman guard Evan Merillat opened the scoring in the fourth with a three-pointer, and three minutes later he connected on another. Walper hit a short jumper to get the Hornets within six, 56-50.
Sundquist scored Saline’s final five points but the Hornets fell short, 57-51, dropping their record to 14-3.
Following the game JV Head Coach Jason Pickett had high praise for his team.
“I just love the effort that my team gives every night. They competed their tails off tonight and I am so proud of them,” Pickett said. “Things didn’t go our way tonight but this group sticks together. It is such a great environment to coach in.”
The JV squad will host the Monroe Trojans on Tuesday night. Tip off time is 5:30 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1ST Star: Nicholas Dils (10 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists & great ball handling skills)
2nd Star: Nicholas Walper (10 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Evan Merillat (10 points, 2 rebounds)
FRESHMEN LOSE TO SKYLINE 40-27, RECORD GOES TO 14-3
Another slow first quarter doomed the Saline freshmen squad as they drop a 40-27 decision to the Skyline Eagles.
The team was led by Gavin Mesman’s nine points, followed by Braden LaRusso’s 6 and Joshua Koch’s 5.
The freshmen get back into action on Friday night when they will host Monroe at the Saline High School gym. Game time is 4 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1ST Star: Gavin Mesman (9 points)
2nd Star: Braden LaRusso (6 points)
3rd Star: Joshua Koch (5 points)