For nearly three quarters, Saline and Ypsilanti went shot for shot in a shootout as the teams opened the girls varsity basketball district at Bedford High School Monday night.
But late in the third and early in the fourth, the Hornets swarmed the grizzlies - going in a 16-point run to seize control. Saline won 74-54.
Saline advanced to Wednesday’s district semifinal against Monroe. Tip off is at 5:30 p.m.
Coach LeighAnn Roehm called the victory a “total team effort.”
“One of the huge keys was that so many different people stepped up,” Roehm said. “This was such a true team effort.”
Brooke Bauer led the team with 15 points, four rebounds and two steals. Asian Lindsey scored 12 points and had two assists. Liz Sekerak scored 12 points. Maddy Welch also scored 11 points and had three rebounds.
Also scoring for Saline were Ella Stemmer (seven points, eight rebounds, four assists), Erin Reilly (three points, two rebounds), Kelsey Alexander (two points, two rebounds and two steals), Leeya Lawson (two points) and Emily Woodman (two points). Sadre’a Riygeay scored 21 points for Ypsilanti.
The Hornets looked like they might run away with things early in the game. They jumped to leads of 9-2 and 15-4 in the first quarter.
But Ypsilanti fought back to make it 15-10 late in the first. For the next two quarters, it was a scrap. Every time Saline threatened to pull away, Ypsilanti fought back. But every time Ypsilanti got close to tying it it, someone on Saline came up with the big defensive stop, or the big three-point shot.
“It seemed like we always had someone else stepping up to make the big play. So many of our girls stepped up when their number was called. I was so proud of this team. We got that fire and spark today and said we’re not letting (the comeback) happen today. We’re going to go finish,” Roehm said.
In particular, she called out two starting seniors, Asia Lindsey and Brooke Bauer.
Saline’s lead had shrunk to 22-18 early in the second quarter when Lindsey swished a three-pointer from the top of the key.
At the end of the third quarter, Saline led 47-41 when Bauer intercepted an Ypsilanti pass, ran up the floor, made her layup while getting fouled and then made her free throw to give Saline a 50-41 lead just before the buzzer.
“We’ve got a young team with a lot of girls playing in their first ever playoff game. Brooke and Asia stepped up and made big plays. They were calm, cool, collected. They were steady and made big plays,” Roehm said.
Both teams were great from the stripe. Ypsilanti was 13 for 16. Saline was 22 for 35.
Lindsey opened the scoring with a basket. Bauer went 4-for-4 from the line to make it 6-2. Lindsey, Welch and Bauer each went 1-for-2 from the line to make it 9-2.
After Ypsilanti scored, Sekerak turned up the head. First she hit a three from the corner to make it 12-4. Then she was fouled and went 1-for-2 from the line. A moment later she drained a second three-pointer to make it 15-4.
Ypsilanti looked down for the count, but Rougeau scored and then got the ball back and hit a three-pointer while being fouled. She made the free throw for the rare four-point play. Saline was up 15-10 at the end of the first.
The second quarter began with Lindsey making both ends of a one-and-one. After Reilly and Ypsilanti’s McKayla Lewis traded points from the stripe, Bauer grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. Saline led 20-11. Lewis scored and made a free throw for the three-point play for Ypsilanti. Ella Stemmer answered with two points on layup for Saline.
Ypsilanti was getting into a rhythm. Breyana Lowery scored two from the tripe and then, after a Saline turnover, LaNya Hood made a basket to make it 22-18 with 4:07 to play.
The Hornets answered with Sekerak passing to Lindsey, who sank the three from the top of the key, making it 25-18. After an Ypsilanti basket, Stemmer fought through the paint for another layup. Ypsilanti’s Nakyra Hollie scored two from the free throw line. But Bauer replied by doing the same. Rougeau then scored two from the stripe for Ypsilanti. Saline got one back from Stemmer at the line, making it 30-24 with 1:08 left in the half. Ypsilanti turned up the head. Rougeau hit a three-pointer. Saline turned the ball over and Rougeau scored again. Ypsilanti was within a point,
But again, Saline came up with the big play. Sweetland hit a three-pointer making it 33-29 with 24 seconds left. Saline carried the lead into halftime.
Ypsilanti scored first in the third quarter with a basket from Lewis. Saline got the points back when Lindsey went 2-for-3 from the line after being fouled attempted a three. Danielle Bryant pushed Ypsilanti closer, at 35-33, when she rebounded the basketball and scored. Back at the other end, Saline kept the pressure on at the free throw line. Stemmer grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled. She went 2-for-2. 18 seconds later Bauer was fouled going to the hoop She went 2-for-2 and Saline led 39-33. But Ypsilanti wouldn’t go away. Lowery and Rougeau made baskets to cut Saline’s lead to two.
Ypsilanti had a chance to tie it. Alexander came up with a loose ball and drove down the court and passed to Sekerak, who made the layup. After Hood scored to make it a two point game, Ypsilanti was within two points again. Again, Ypsilanti had a chance to tie it, but a shot was off target Sekerak rebounded the ball and ran down the court and scored to make it 43-39.
Saline’s defense came up big and Maddy Welch delivered a blow, sinking a three-pointer to give Saline a seven-point lead. Lewis got two points back for Ypsilanti at the free throw line with 1:39 left to play in the third.
That’s when the Hornets took over. Welch started with a shot from the stripe to make it 47-41. With 32 seconds left in the quarter, Bauer was at midcourt when she jumped to intercepted a pass. She attacked the basket and made her shot while drawing the foul. She then made her shot to complete the three-point play. Saline led 50-41.
Saline looked confident to start the fourth. When Sweetland opened fourth quarter scoring with a three-pointer, that confidence reached a boil. Reilly followed with two points from the stripe. Welch hit another three from in front of the Saline bench. Lindsey drained a long two-pointer and Sweetland scored another basket. Saline led 62-41.
The 16-point tsunami washed away Ypsilanti’s hopes.
“Defensively, we turned it up a gear. I felt like they wore down a little bit. Our pressure caused turnovers which led to easy buckets, which added to our energy,” Roehm said.
Saline added more points down the stretch. Some of the loudest cheers came when Lawson scored a short jumper and Emily Woodland scored with a bank shot.
Now the Hornets face Monroe. Saline beat Monroe 59-46 and 41-29, but coach Roehm and the Hornets aren’t taking the Trojans lightly.
The winner will face either Bedford or Belleville in the district championship Friday night at Bedford. Saline beat Belleville for its first win of the season. The Hornets split the season with Bedford, winning on the road and losing at home.
Saline’s 74 points was a season high. The previous high was the 59 points scored against Monroe Dec. 19.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
Brooke Bauer - Bauer fearlessly attacked the basket, scoring and then drawing fouls and making her shots when she didn’t. She was 9-for-11 from the stripe and finished with 15 points. Bauer was also as quick and aggressive defensively as she’s been all year.
Asia Lindsey - The Saline senior turned in perhaps her best game of the year when it counted most. She scored 12 points and didn’t turn the ball over against a quick Ypsilanti defense. Like Bauer, she displayed senior poise, which helped settle down a young and inexperienced playoff team.
Liz Sekerak - A lot of girls deserved mention here, including Ella Stemmer for her all-around play and Welch for her three-pointers. But Sekerak earned the nod. She showed a little bit of everything Tuesday. She hit a couple of three pointers. She attacked the net with speed. She came back to break up plays. Sekerak, just a sophomore, has probably been the team’s most improved player, from game 1 to game 21, and is yet another reason why the Saline girls’ basketball team looks to have a bright future. But for now, of course, the future is Wednesday night at Bedford.