WOODHAVEN -- The Saline girls basketball team comes into the 2019-20 season with high hopes. The Hornets 77-32 victory over Woodhaven certainly seemed to show those high hopes are grounded in reality.
The Hornets couldn’t have done much more to set the right tone for the season.
Junior Ella Stemmer scored a career-high 32 points and added 10 rebounds, four assists and a couple steals. Senior Steffi Bentley scored a career-high 20 points and also had six rebounds and two steals.
Emily Wilczynski hit a three-point shot seconds into the game and Saline raced to 29-8 lead after the first quarter - ending any doubt about who was going to win this early-season tilt.
Saline coach Leigh Ann Roehm was impressed with her teams performance.
“I’m so proud of my girls. We did a lot of work and preparation and it’s just nice when it comes together for them and they get to show all the things they’ve been working on,” Roehm said.
Wilczynski’s three set the tone seconds into the game. From their, Saline’s press helped the Hornets roll to their early lead.
Bentley scored 10 of her 20 points in the first quarter.
Roehm said Bentley’s offseason work is paying early dividends.
“Steffi has done a lot of work. She is so improved. She’s going to be a great force this who season,” Roehm said.
Bentley used her height and reach to put back several rebounds for baskets.
“She shot a great percentage. She has a knack of knowing where to be under the hoop and she goes after the glass really hard, as well,” Roehm said.
Bentley added six more points in the second quarter. Stemmer, who had six points in the first quarter, added nine in the second quarter. Saline led 44-18 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Stemmer scored seven more points. She capped her game with a 10-point fourth. Stemmer, who’s had a starring role on the Hornets since her freshman year, seemed to score every way imaginable. She hit three treys and added several long two-point field goals. She attacked through the paint. She put back rebounds.
But on a night when her offensively gifted junior set a career high in points, Roehm focused on other important developments in her game.
“The big thing from her this year that I just love is her vocal leadership and defensively, the the way she’s taken the steps to be a next-level defender,” Roehm said.
Due to injuries, only eight Hornets played in the game. All made the scoresheet.
Natalie Sweetland scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Emily Wilczynski scored five points and had two rebounds and steals. Amera Boyd scored four points to go with five steals and a couple assists. Liz Sekerak scored two points and had six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Beth Ann Ford scored two points and grabbed two boards. Reggie Duerst also scored two points and she added three rebounds.
Saline returns several key players on a basketball team that showed great promise before losing a heartbreaker in the district championship last year.
Bentley and Stemmer agreed on one team goal.
“Definitely a district championship is our goal I really think this team can do it,” Bentley said.
Stemmer agreed and said team chemistry will be an important factor for the Hornets.
“We have so much team chemistry. This year we are all so close. Since we’ve been playing together all summer, we’ve been doing great things together. So I think we can really get that district championship we’ve been hoping for, for so many years,” Stemmer said.
The Hornets visit Salem Friday.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
Ella Stemmer - 32 points. 10 rebounds. Four assists. Nothing like starting the season with a career-best game.
Steffi Bentley - 20 points, six rebounds and two steals. Ditto. Bentley showed signs of becoming a go-to player last season. She’s beyond showing signs.
Natalie Sweetland - In the varsity debut, Sweetland scored 10 points and also had nine rebounds. She showed good strength under the basket.