A few minutes into Friday’s varsity girls’ basketball game between Saline and Bedford, the Hornets looked like might cruise to a big win against their SEC Red rival. Instead, the Kicking Mules stole momentum and went on to win 46-36, exacting revenge on a Saline team that had won in their gym on Jan. 11.
Saline fell to 10-2 overall and 3-2 in the SEC Red.
Bedford was led by Grace Ryan, who scored 18 points and went 12-for-13 from the free throw line. Ryan and the Mules went 23 for 27 from the line and refused to allow the Hornets to climb back in to the game in the fourth quarter.
Things started well for the Hornets. Steffi Bentley, who led the Hornets with 13 points, scored with a strong drive through the lane.
Moments later, Maddy Welch sunk a three-pointer to make it 5-0. After a Bedford basket, Welch made it 7-2 with an aggressive move to the hoop.
After a basket by Ella Stemmer, Saline led 9-2.
It was right around then that Saline’s shooters went cold. Bedford got a three-pointer from Selena Sandoval made it 9-5. Bedford added another basket and a point from the free throw line to make it 9-8.
Stemmer replied with another good move to the hoop, to make it 11-8.
The Hornets went eight minutes – a full quarter – without scoring again from the field. Bedford took a 12-11 lead. Nicole Sweetland added a point from the free throw line to tie the score at 12.
The second quarter began with Gray putting back a rebound to give Bedford the lead – a lead they never again relinquished. The Mules made it 20-12 before the Hornets finally got back on the board, with two minutes to play in the quarter. Kelsey Alexander made a great pass to Bentley, who drove in for her second basket of the game. In the final moments of the half, Stemmer (2-for-2) and Erin Reilly (1-for-2) made baskets from the free throw line. But Bedford led 24-17.
“We started well, but when we missed a few shots, we tightened up. You could see it in our body language,” Coach Leigh Ann Roehm said.
The third quarter began with Aubrie Zuenen and Sara Koviak scoring for the Mules, making it 28-17.
That’s when the Hornets pushed back. Bentley was fouled on her way to the net and made one of two shots. After a big Bentley block on defense, Stemmer drained a long jump shot to make it 28-20. Then Bentley stole an inbound pass and made a basket while getting fouled. Saline was within six and had momentum.
But then the game spun away from the Hornets. They were assessed a technical foul during a battle for a loose ball. Bedford made both shots. Then they were assessed another technical foul. Again, the Mules made both shots.
Coach Roehm declined the chance to question the officials.
“Whatever the official called is what happened. We let our frustration take over. We had players make it about Bedford, or the officials. When you do that, you stop making it about us,” Roehm said. “It was a complete turning point. We were feeling good and then we had experienced players make mistakes.”
Saline was down 32-22. The Hornets battled back with another basket by Bentley and then a putback by Welch. Saline was down 32-26 going into the fourth.
Bedford spent most of the quarter playing keep-away. The Hornets got to within four with a basket by Liz Sekerak. But then the Mules made good on several trips to the line while shutting down Saline at the other end, taking a 39-28 lead.
Bentley scored with a put back for the Hornets. After another two points from the stripe by Bedford, Amera Boyd scored with a great move to the hoop and then added a free throw basket. Sekerak added a late basket for the Hornets.
Roehm said it’s important to learn from the loss. She was encouraged by the integrity of the seniors who were assessed the technical fouls in the third quarter.
“After the game, everyone was down in the locker room. And those two players stepped up and said ‘I made a mistake. I’m sorry.’ So, I’m proud of the integrity and accountability they showed,” Roehm said. “We’re going to learn about it. We’ve got to keep be sure, going forward, we keep the game about us.”
Saline has a challenging week next week. Monday they’re at Huron. Wednesday they play Pioneer and Friday they’re at Skyline.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Steffi Bentley – The junior had another big game against a fairly tall and strong Bedford team. Bentley was one of the few Hornets to have success scoring and she made several big plays as the Hornets rallied midway through the third quarter. She finished with 13 points, two rebounds and two steals..
- Maddy Welch – Welch gave the Hornets and early boost with a three-pointer and a layup and played good defense throughout the night. She finished with seven points and five rebounds.
- Ella Stemmer – It was a tough night for the Saline sophomore who usually dominates games. She still finished with eight points – second best on the team. Stemmer fouled out late in the fourth.