“We got punched in the mouth.”
That is what Saline varsity basketball head coach Jake Fosdick said following Friday night’s 46-39 loss on the road to the Woodhaven Warriors.
Detroit’s famed boxer Tommy Hearns once said the key to his success was “I can get hit in the face, get knocked down to the canvas and get back up to keep fighting. But I prefer to knock the other guy down first.”
The young Hornets were outplayed in every facet of the game. The Warriors played far more aggressively on defense. They shot better and they out rebounded Saline 33-22.
The Hornets opened the scoring 25 seconds into the game when freshman guard Cooper Fairman sank a three-point shot from the top of the key. Senior forward Logan Evans sank the second of two free throws to up Saline’s lead to 4-2 with 4:17 left in the opening quarter.
That would be the last lead for the Hornets the entire night.
With junior guard Trevor Arico still sidelined nursing a knee injury sustained during Saline’s successful football season, the Hornet hoopsters have struggled to find their one-two scoring punch. Arico and junior guard Griffin Yaklich formed last year’s potent combo, nicknamed “Thunder” and “Lightning.” During the first two games this season, opposing teams have focused intense defensive pressure on stopping Yaklich.
Evans closed out the Hornet scoring with 27 seconds left to cut the Warrior lead to four, 12-8 as the first quarter ended.
Yaklich opened the scoring 39 seconds into the quarter to cut the lead to 14-10. Then the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to blow the game open. Saline took shots from all over the court, from three-point range to lay-ups, and missed them all.
Saline shot 10 for 23 for two-point shots and 2 for 15 from three-point range. The combined shooting percentage for the game was 31 percent.
The Hornets shot 68 percent from the free throw line, converting 13 of 19.
The futility of Saline’s offensive effort is demonstrated in that the team was able to score just 18 points through three quarters, eight, seven and then just three in the third quarter.
However, the Hornets managed to find some offensive rhythm in the final quarter, outscoring the Warriors 21-14 but it was too little too late. Yaklich led the scoring in the fourth quarter scoring 14 of his team high 22 points. Sophomores Derek Caldwell and Anthony Ferrari chipped in two points apiece, while Fairman added three and Evans another two.
It wasn’t that the Woodhaven defense caused the Hornets to commit turnovers as Saline had only nine for the game. On Tuesday night, Saline forced the South Lyon Lions into committing 29 turnovers. In Woodhaven, the Hornet defense got the Warriors to commit 11.
The real problem in the game was the Hornets just couldn’t sink any shots. Even close shots and lay-ups just rolled off the rim.
“We played a very physical team tonight and didn’t handle it very well,” said a dejected Fosdick after the game. “It is a lesson learned. We need to play more physical if we hope to be successful.”
When questioned about the disparity in rebounds in the game and his team’s lack of size, Fosdick responded, “We’re not going to cancel our season just because we don’t have really tall players. Rebounding is about attitude, about getting yourself in the right position and playing physical to get rebounds. You can be 5’11” and be a great rebounder.”
Fosdick then added, “We need to be more physical, more athletic. Everything that went wrong tonight we can correct. We have standards for our program and each player will be playing to those standards.”
The Hornets will have two huge challenges next week when they host the Melvindale Cardinals on Tuesday evening and the Lincoln Railsplitters on Friday. Tip-off time for both games is 7 p.m.
Lincoln’s team includes Emani Bates, one of the top freshman hoopsters in the State of Michigan. In Lincoln’s opening game of the season against Ann Arbor Huron, they beat the River Rats 80-69, with Bates scoring 32 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. An early season challenge for the Hornets.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Griffin Yaklich (22 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists)
2nd Star: Cooper Fairman (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Peter Jacobsen (0 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists & tenacious defense)
Saline JV Holds On To Win
The Saline JV squad blew an eleven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter to win a hard-fought contest against the Woodhaven Warriors, 59-57. The team made some critical shots down the stretch and sophomore Luke Darmos blocked a Warrior shot in the final seconds to secure the win.
With :31 seconds remaining, Darmos grabbed an offensive rebound when his teammate missed a foul shot which helped Saline retain possession of the ball.
Sophomore guard Eli Trese did something that any veteran hoopsters will tell you is VERY, VERY DIFFICULT to do. With :16 seconds left in the game, and Saline leading by one, 57-56, Trese calmly went to the free throw line and sank both free throws.
Saline JV Coach Jason Pickett was very proud of his team following the game. “This win came from the way we have practiced for the last two days. This group works so hard in practice and keeps on working on perfecting the little things that are needed to win games.”
“They keep finding a way to win,” Pickett said with a smile on his face. “This one was a little too close for me but I’ll take it.
The JV squad gets right back into action on Tuesday when they will host the Melvindale Cardinals at Saline High School. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Luke Darmos (13 points, 2 blocked shots)
2nd Star: Evan Merillat (16 points)
3rd Star: Eli Trese (4 points, including two huge free throws) & Bryce Wizner (12 points)