Saline held off a hot-shooting Adrian team to win 53-49 in varsity girls basketball action as the Hornets celebrated senior night Friday night.
Amera Boyd’s long three-point from beyond the top of the key with 4:28 to play gave Saline a 50-49 lead. The Hornets played keep-away down the stretch and were able to hold off the Maples.
The victory snapped a two-game losing slump on a night when Saline honored seniors Kelsey Alexander, Maddy Welch, Nicole Sweetland, Leeya Lawson, Fiona Morcom and Emily Woodman.
Each of the seniors walked out to center court with their parents as they were introduced before the game. Coach Leigh Ann Roehm said the group of girls made a positive impact on the Saline basketball program and a each other. Roehm coached many of these girls in middle school and then in junior varsity before taking over as head varsity coach last year.
“This is just a group of kids that love basketball, a group of kids that are tremendous leaders and a group of kids that really love their teammates. They care about this experience. They care about being united. They care about us being a family,” Roehm said. “With the amount of time I’ve spent with these girls, I could not be prouder of they have grown into amazing women. They’ve continued to our program so much and left a lasting impression, a big stamp and their legacy will live on for a long time.”
It was fitting the Hornets were led by one of their seniors. Kelsey Alexander scored 14 points, had five rebounds and two assists. And the stats didn’t do Alexander’s game justice.
“It wasn’t just the point she scored. It was the defense she played and the way she attacked loose balls and rebounds. She was second to none,” Roehm said.
Saline started with five seniors on the floor. Alexander, Welch, Lawson, Sweetland and Woodman. But a little more than three minutes into the game, the Hornets were down 6-0 on two three-pointers.
Alexander got the Hornets on the board, taking a pass from Ella Stemmer and scoring jumper from the short corner. Stemmer, who had six points, six rebounds and two assists, followed by going two-for-two from the free throw line. But the Maples got another three-pointer and then Carolina Lewis scored to make it 11-4, Adrian. To make matters worse, Stemmer, Saline’s leading scorer, was assessed two quick fouls and returned to the bench.
Fortunately, for the Hornets, Junior Liz Sekerak was ready to heat up.
First she hit a three-point shot from beyond the top of the key. Then Steffi Bentley (two points, five rebounds), grabbed a rebound and the delivered a great pass to Sekerak for a layup. And then Sekerak (10 points, three rebounds, two steals) hit another three from the left corner, giving Saline a 12-11 lead. It was the last lead Saline held until the fourth quarter.
The Maples, led by Lewis, started hitting all their shots. They began the quarter with two baskets to take a 15-12 lead. Alexander put back a rebound to make it 15-14. Lewis (19 points) hit a three-pointer for Adrian to make it 18-14.
Amera Boyd (nine points) showed her track-and-field speed with sprint through the defense and a nice move for the layup. Senior Maddy Welch (seven points, five rebounds) grabbed a rebound and was fouled attacking the hoop. She went 2-for-2 from the stripe to tie the game at 18.
Adrian went back up by five after a couple points from the stripe and a three by Day’Anna Marr.
Alexander, Welch and Boyd made baskets before the half, but Saline went into the dressing room down 31-26.
The Hornets looked poised to right the ship to start the third quarter. Stemmer struck first with a strong move through the paint for two points. Saline got the ball back and Bentley put back a rebound to make cut Adrian’s lead to just one.
But again, the Maples’ shooters prevailed. Madison Kendall and Madison Dempsey hit back-to-back three pointers to give Adrian a 37-30 lead.
Saline stuck with it. Stemmer came up with a defensive rebound and fed a pass to Sweetland (five points, four rebounds, four assists) for an easy layup. Adrian’s Marr replied with a basket.
Saline’s seniors closed the gap. Welch rebounded Sekerak’s missed shot and put it back and then Then Alexander made about the longest two-point field goal you can make – maybe one of her shoelaces crossed the three-point line. Saline was down 39-36.
Lewis scored again for Adrian to make it a five-point game.
Stemmer replied for Saline with another drive through the paint. Alexander showed great patience to outwait her defender and then hit along jumpshot to make it 41-40. But Adrian closed the quarter with a basket and led 43-40 going into the third.
Saline started the fourth with Boyd’s speed and Alexander’s determination. Boyd grabbed a rebound and then zipped through the defense for layup that rimmed out as she crashed hard on the floor. But Alexander won the battle for the rebound and put it in. Lewis replied with two for Adrian.
Freshman Sophie Gasparovic was fouled while attempting a three-point shot. Gasparovic went 2-for-3, to get Saline to back within one. At the other end of the court, Lewis went 1-for-2 to give Adrian a 46-44 lead.
With 5:50 left to play, Sweetland drilled a three-point shot from the wing. Saline had its first lead since, 47-46, since the end of the first quarter.
Lewis got it right back for Adrian with her own three-pointer.
With 4:28 to play, Boyd hit a long three-pointer from the top of the key. Saline led 50-49.
It was a lead they never relinquished.
From there, the Hornets played master-level keep-away. At one point, Welch and Sweetland took turns standing near half, holding the ball for 20 seconds.
Adrian’s clean play in the second half worked against them. They had only one foul called against them with 4 minutes to play and couldn’t force Saline to the free throw line to get the ball back.
The Maples had to waste precious time accumulating enough fouls to send the Hornets to the free throw line. Sekerak made her way to the line and go 2-for-2 to give Saline a three-point lead.
With less than a minute to play, Welch missed the first of one-and-one. Stemmer stripped the ball from the hands of an Adrian player and Saline regained possession – preventing an Adrian possession and allowing the Hornets to kill more time.
Welch added another point from the free throw line and Saline won, 53-39.
The Hornets visit Tecumseh Tuesday.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Kelsey Alexander – Always fired up, the future CMU softball player is playing her best basketball of the season. She led the team in scoring and played hard-nosed basketball at both ends of the court.
- Amera Boyd – In each of the last three games we’ve seen, Boyd has scored baskets that nobody else on the court could have made – end-to-end, high speed, high skill drives that seem too fast and too powerful. Boyd also hit another clutch three – the one that put the Hornets up for good.
- Maddy Welch – Played strong defense, attacked the hoop and played tough in the paint.