There is an expression well known to everyone.
“If you live by the sword, you can die by the sword.”
In basketball, there is a similar expression, “If you live by the three, you can die by the three.” 18 of the Hartland Eagles’ 20 first half points came by way of the three-point shot. Saline switched to a man-to-man defensive strategy in the second half and were able to walk away with a 45-42 win, upping their season record to a perfect 3-0.
On the strength of three-point shots, Hartland put the Hornets in a 9-2 hole to start the game. The Eagles’ senior forward Brandon Harrison sank his first three shots of the game to open the scoring. Hornet junior forward Connor Terech and sophomore guard Griffin Yaklich each chipped in four to pull the Hornets to within two, 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Whatever Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick told his young charges in the huddle between the quarters worked, as the Hornets started the second quarter on an 11-0 run, to pull ahead 21-12. The scoring was a team affair as five different players contributed. Yaklich started things off with a slick lay-up to knot things up at 12. A minute later junior guard Peter Jacobsen sank a three-pointer to give Saline a 15-12 lead. Yaklich drove the length of the floor to make it 17-12. The Hornets forced back to back turnovers, and Adam Heisler converted both of those into points, receiving beautiful passes from Yaklich and senior forward Emmett Turner. Hartland got on the board at the 3:58 mark of the quarter, again making another three-point shot. Junior forward Ryan Koch closed out the scoring with ten seconds left as the Hornets went into the locker room at the half leading 25-20.
Koch opened the Hornet scoring forty-five seconds into the 3rd quarter making two free throws. The tough Hornet defense forced two Eagle turnovers, which Yaklich quickly converted into points. With a little over a minute to go in the quarter, senior guard Erik “Baywatch” Wenning calmly hit a three-point shot, followed by another bucket by Koch and the Hornets headed into the final quarter, leading 38-33.
This year’s Hornet team features seven juniors and two sophomores. This game was the first away varsity away game for most. Coach Fosdick said he wasn’t sure how they would react.
“They had an hour on the bus to get here; They were in class all day; They will have to be in class all day tomorrow; Some needed to figure out how to get treatments from the trainer before we left on the bus; And I wasn’t sure how they would react or what to expect tonight,” Fosdick said.
Their play in the fourth quarter provided another glimpse into the strength and character of this team.
In a tight game, sometimes the difference between winning and losing is how well you convert on your chances from the free throw line. In the final quarter the Hornets converted five of eight free throws, which helped to ensure the win. Yaklich hit four of six chances from the charity stripe, while “The Beast” Emmett Turner added another. With the Hornets leading 44-40, with nine seconds left, Yaklich sank the second of two free throws to up the lead to 45-40. With 0.04 seconds left, Yaklich was called for an intention foul, from three-point range. It gave the Eagles three chances at the free throw line, and because it was deemed an intentional foul, Hartland would get the ball back. Hartland converted on two of three free throws, cutting the lead to 45-42, with four seconds left. After Hartland called a time out, Saline called a time out. The Hornets had a strategy of denying the ball to Hartland’s top shooter, and it worked as the Eagles got off a wild shot that was no where near the basket.
What was interesting was the lack of celebration by the Hornets following the win. The team shook hands with Hartland players and coaches, hugged their coach and then calmly walked off the court. As the former Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton said once, when explaining why he never celebrated after scoring a touchdown in the NFL, “man, you need to act as if you have been in the end zone before, and you expect to score, and when you do, it’s no big deal.” And that is what the Hornets looked like Tuesday night, led by seniors Emmett Turner and Erik Wenning, walking off the court following their win, they looked like they had been there before.
Following the game, Head Coach Jake Fosdick praised his team.
“They showed real road toughness tonight. We had to play more situational basketball tonight because Hartland is a different kind of team. We allowed Harrison to get open looks and that put us in a hole early tonight,” Fosdick continued said. “We had good energy on defense tonight. We had to change out of the zone to man-to-man defense and the players adjusted well.”
Fosdick said that he didn’t allow his team to look beyond Hartland because good teams can go on the road and lose, and he didn’t want that to happen. But, Fosdick said, “Pioneer is a rival. They have never respected Saline, and I still don’t think they respect us.”
Fosdick said the team would begin to prepare for SEC Conference rival Ann Arbor Pioneer tomorrow in practice. The Hornets host the Pioneers on Friday night, game time is 7 p.m. at Saline High School.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Griffin Yaklich (20 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Adam Heisler (6 points, 4 rebounds)
3rd Star: Ryan Koch (5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
BIG 4TH QUARTER CARRIED JV’S TO 47-35 WIN OVER HARTLAND
The Saline Junior Varsity squad upped its season record to 2-1 with a 47-35 win on the road over the Hartland Eagles Tuesday night. Led by sophomore guard Josh Finn’s 16 points, the Hornets battled through three quarters clinging to a two-point lead, 27-25, heading into the final quarter. Sophomore guard Ben Stack was fouled while making a shot, and converted the free throw to give Saline a 30-27 lead, and it was a lead they would never relinquish. Freshman forward Anthony Ferrari scored the next five points for the Hornets, upping the lead to 35-30.
The Hornets were able to limit the Eagles to one shot, out-rebounding Hartland 10-0 in the fourth quarter. Head Coach Jason Pickett said following his team’s win, “I thought we competed well tonight. We had to create our own energy, which we did. I thought we played really tough defense tonight, limiting the opponent to only one shot.” When asked about the full court pressure applied in the fourth quarter, Pickett responded, “It is sort of a feeling when to start the press. I had a feeling and it worked.” The full court pressure forced the Eagles into five fourth quarter turnovers, resulting in eight points. The JV squad gets back into action Friday night when it hosts the Ann Arbor Pioneers. Tip off time is 5:30pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Josh Winn (20 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists)
2nd Star: Nick Dils (7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Anthony Ferrari (7 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist)
Freshman Team Doomed By Third Quarter Let-Down, Lose 52-34
Saline Freshman Head Coach Brian Whitley said “You can’t win a game when you lose a quarter 25-5. That third quarter let-down turned what was otherwise a close game into a blow-out loss, dropping the team’s record to 1-2 on the season. The freshmen get aback into action Friday night when they host Pioneer at Saline High School. Tip off time is 4pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Nick Walper (13 points)
2nd Star: Brayden Stavros (5 points)
3rd Star: Eli Trese (3 points)