BASKETBALL: Saline Struggles in Loss at Huron

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 02/05/2019 - 23:21
Griffin Yaklich scored 17 points for Saline.

The bus from Saline arrived Monday night at Huron High School but some would say the team never got off the bus. The Huron River Rats started and ended the first quarter with a 5-0 runs, while holding the Hornets to just five points.

The River Rats never gave up the lead throughout the entire game, taking a commanding 60-35 victory. The loss drops Saline’s record to 9-6 on the season, 3-3 in the SEC Red Division.

“I am very disappointed,” said Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick after the game. “I am disappointed in myself. I am disappointed in how we played. I just don’t know.” The disappointment was etched on Fosdick’s face as he struggled to explain what had just happened.

The Hornets were beaten in all facets of the game. The River Rats out-shot them, outscored them, out rebounded them and pushed them around all night. Huron outscored the Hornets in every quarter of the game, 10-5, 22-11, 9-6 and 19-13.

Junior guard Trevor “Thunder” Arico connected on a three-pointer at the 6:14 mark to cut Huron’s lead to 5-3. Junior guard Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich converted on two of four free throws with the first quarter ending with the River Rats on top 10-5.

The second quarter got worse for the Hornets. Arico got Saline on the board with 5:22 remaining in the quarter but not after Huron opened the quarter with a 7-0 run. Sophomores Derek Caldwell and Anthony Ferrari connected for Saline’s final five points, sending the Hornets to the locker room at the half, down 32-16.

While the Hornets offense just couldn’t get anything going against Huron, Saline’s usual stingy defense was ineffective. They gave up easy shots to the River Rats and just could not keep Huron off the boards. The Rats out-rebounded the Hornets 19-10 in the first half, including six offensive rebounds which were converted to easy points. Overall for the game, the River Rats out-rebounded the Hornets 33-21.

Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter. Turnovers were the name of the game in the quarter with Saline committing seven and Huron eight. But at the end of the eight minutes, the River Rats had upped their lead to 41-22.

Yaklich connected on two three-pointers and a free throw to start the final quarter before both teams substituted freely. Junior guard Jaden Pickett hit a three-pointer and another hoop as the clock ticked off the final seconds.

It is imperative that the Hornets shake off this lethargic performance as they travel to Ann Arbor Pioneer on Wednesday for another crucial SEC Red Division game. Tip off time is 7 p.m.


1ST Star: Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich (17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists)

2nd Star: Jaden Pickett (5 points)

3rd Star: Derek Caldwell (4 points)


Saline JV Head Coach Jason Pickett shares something in common with Sean Payton, Head Coach of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Namely, both coaches had a game where the game officials tipped the scales and had a direct effect on the outcome of the game.

In the case of Coach Payton, it was a non-call that kept New Orleans out of the Super Bowl. For Coach Pickett, it was the game officials sending the River Rats to the free throw line 20 times in the second half of their game on Monday night, while the Hornets got just two chances from the charity stripe. In the end, the Hornets dropped a 48-45 decision, dropping their season record to 13-2.

Coach Pickett could probably be faulted for how he prepped his team for the game against Huron. He got his team ready to play a basketball game. The problem, at times his team found themselves in a street fight.

There was clutching, grabbing, pushing, pulling, players hitting the court with a thud. As Huron players drove hard to the basket, Hornet defenders were sent flying to the ground. Not a single charging foul was called. Not one.

Historically, the River Rats are noted for their defensive pressure and very aggressive style of play. They push the ball hard on offense and are very aggressive on defense. They always have been. They always will be. It is this style of play that supports their success.

It was a poor first quarter that put the Hornets in a huge hole. Sophomore guard Benjamin Sundquist connected on a short jumper to cut Huron’s lead to 4-2. Huron then outscored the Hornets 13-4 to jump out to a 17-6 first quarter lead.

The Hornets began to dig themselves out of that huge deficit starting the second quarter with a 6-0 run of their own. They got baskets from sophomore guards Bryce Wizner, Nicholas Dils and Nicholas Walper to cut the lead to 17-12. Sophomore forward Luke Rykard closed out the scoring and Saline went to the locker room at the half trailing 25-15.

The Hornets went to work in the third quarter, getting everyone involved in the offense and defense. Sophomore Zachary Mitzel opened the scoring hitting a three-pointer. The center Luke Darmos sank two free throws and another bucket to cut the lead to 27-22.

Sophomore guard Eli Trese connected on a three-pointer and Dills sank two consecutive baskets and the River Rats’ lead was just three, 32-29.

Walper closed out the scoring in the third quarter sinking a three-pointer. Saline was down by four, 36-32 heading into the final quarter.

In the final quarter, Walper was holding the hot hand. He connected on three consecutive three-point shots, the last coming with 4:14 left in the game, giving Saline its first lead of the game, 41-40.

With :22 seconds left to play, and Huron leading 42-41, the officials ruled that an out-of-bounds ball went off of a Saline player. Coach Pickett called the defensive play and Dils was walking into the Saline defensive zone, telling his teammates the play Pickett wanted.

The crowd was screaming, the official was at the sideline in front of the scorers’ table, when he suddenly signaled a technical foul on Dils. Dils was in disbelief. Coach Pickett was in disbelief.

As if the disparity in fouls called in the second half, 20-2 in favor of Huron wasn’t enough, the technical foul was the killer. It ensured the Hornet comeback would end.

Huron converted both free throws and then retained possession of the ball. The Hornets fouled the Huron player, who converted both free throws. Saline got baskets from Evan Merillat and Darmos in the final ten seconds but ended up on the short end of a 48-45 score. The loss drops the JV season record to 13-2.

Following the game, Coach Pickett said, “we got off to a slow start, made uncharacteristic turnovers while being pressed and that cost us.”

“We will work on things in practice and will be ready for Pioneer on Wednesday,” Pickett said. “Our guys will respond.”

Saline gets back into action when they travel to Ann Arbor Pioneer on Wednesday. Game time is 5 p.m.


1st Star: Nicholas Walper (12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist)

2nd Star: Luke Darmos (7 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist & 5 blocked shots)

3rd Star: Nicholas Dils (5 points, 1 assist)


The Saline Hornet freshman team returned to their winning ways by beating the Huron River Rats 66-62 on the road Monday night. The win upped their season record to 13-2.

The Hornets were led by Braden LaRusso’s 18 points, followed by Romeo Love’s 13 and Eric Woods 11.

The freshmen get back into action on Wednesday when they travel to Ann Arbor Pioneer. Tip off time is 4 p.m.


1ST Star: Braden LaRusso (18 points)

2nd Star: Romeo Love (13 points)

3rd Star: Eric Wood (11 points)

Steven Sheldon's picture
Steven Sheldon