DEXTER -- Pickney defeated Saline, 41-30, as the girls basketball postseason began Monday night.
Saline’s shooters struggled to find their mark in the second and third quarters. Saline battled back from an 11-point deficit to cut the lead to five points, but that was a close as they could get in the season-ending loss.
“We couldn’t hit that shot to put us over the hump,” Saline coach Jeff Waltz said. “We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the third quarter. We really battled back and got to within five, we just needed that one extra play. We spent so much energy to get to that point, we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Waltz said he was proud of the way the girls battled Monday and all season.
“It was a really well-played game by both teams. I was really proud of our kids,” Waltz said. “When you look back at where we started the season to where we’ve come, we’ve had a phenomenal season. They should be proud. We were expecting that.”
Saline finished with a 13-8 victory.
Saline’s scoring woes were somewhat surprising after both teams came out scoring.
Chloe Hanifan opened the game for Pickney with a three-pointer. Asia Lindsey (7 points) got Saline on the board with a 13-foot jump shot. Saline went ahead 4-3 after a defensive stop by Glory Ford sent Shannon Reilly in for a layup.
Pickney regained the lead with a basket and then a three-pointer by Shay Herbert (10-points).
Ford and Abbey Bowen (8 points) scored baskets to tie the game at eight. Pinckney jumped back ahead but Saline tied it at 10 when Bowen won the battle for an offensive rebound and pitched out to Lindsey, who hit a 12-foot jumper.
With five baskets in the field not even five minutes into the game, Saline had no idea its shots were about to stop falling. Saline’s next basket from the field didn’t come until 2:45 into the third quarter.
Credit Pinckney’s physical play for derailing the Hornet offense. Fortunately for Saline, that physical play led to fouls and points from the stripe. Saline’s defense was also busy thwarting the Pirates.
Saline picked up a couple of points from the free throw line from Emma Brownsberger and Maddy Welch and the Hornets led 12-11 after the first quarter.
“The first quarter was a shootout and then both teams settled down on defense,” Waltz said.
It was two minutes into the second quarter before anyone made a basket. Pickney went up 13-12.
The Hornets went out front with Kelsey Alexander shooting 2-for-2 from the line. Lindsey then went 1-for-2 from the line. Saline led 15-13. The Pirates tied the score at 15 with a basket with 1:58 to play in the quarter. Then Herbert hit her second three-pointer of the night to give Pickney an 18-15 advantage before halftime.
Pickney opened a very physical second half with a basket. Saline was thwarted on its next possession and, in a battle for possession, Ford was assessed a technical foul against Hanifan, who was played up to the edge and sometimes over it all night long. Hanifan missed her free throws Pickney scored on the next possession to make it 22-15.
Sydney Jarvela finally gave Hornet fans something to cheer about with a three-pointer 2:45 into the quarter. Reilly followed by going 1-for-2 from the line. Saline was within three.
Herbert hit her third three-pointer of the night to make it 25-19.
Brooke Bauer hit a long two-pointer to get Saline within four. The Pirates paraded to the free throwline and went 5-for-6. Another basket gave Pickney a 32-21 lead. Alexander made a free throw late in the quarter. Saline was down 32-22 going into the fourth.
Between quarters, Waltz was heard challenging his team to fight for each other.
“The only way that you’re going to come back is if you stay together and believe you can do it.” Waltz said.
Saline came out swinging. Jarvela went hard to the hoop and was fouled. She made 1 of 2 shots. She was fouled again and this time made both ends of a 1-and-1. Lauren Carroll got two of those points back for Pickney.
Bowen brought the Saline fans to their feet with a three-pointer from the corner. Then she was body checked by Hanifan as she went up for layup. Hanifan was assessed a technical foul. Bowen made both her shots.
Saline was down 34-29 with 6:15 to play.
Unfortunately, the Hornets just couldn’t find a way to score. At the other end of the floor, Ford had returned to the game and she did a good job keeping the Pirates from getting second chances.
Pinckney held that five-point advantage for nearly five minutes before Katheryin Koinitys got two points back for Pickney for a seven-point lead.
Bowen gave the Hornets one last spark with a mid-court steal and layup – her last of many as a Hornet – that made it 36-31. But Pinckney added four more points from the stripe and went on to win 40-31.
Waltz expressed pride in his team’s effort.
“We never gave up hope until the clock struck zero. It’s been a real pleasure to coach these girls, from the seniors on down,” he said.