Saline snapped a season-high three-game losing streak with a 57-35 win at Skyline Friday.
Nicole Sweetland scored 14 points as Saline improved to 11-4 overall and 4-4 in the SEC Red.
Coach Leigh Ann Roehm said it was a big win for a team that lost a couple tough games.
“It was a big one and I wanted it for these girls because they’ve competed and prepared so much for this season. We had a three-game slump, but that three-game slump does not define our season,” Roehm said. “I’m so proud of the mental toughness these kids have shown all week long. After every single loss they bounced back, fought back, they continued to battle. This one gets the monkey off our back and now we can prepare for the post-season.”
Ella Stemmer scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. She also had six assists and three steals. Maddy Welch scored nine points and had five rebounds, two steals and two assists.
It took a little while for the Hornet offense to heat up. Six minutes into the quarter, Saline held a 2-0 lead on a basket by Steffi Bentley (seven points, two rebounds, two steals, two blocks). Amera Boyd (five points, two rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two assists) stole a ball and ran in for an uncontested layup to make it 4-0. After a basket by Skyline, Maddy Welch drained a three-point shot. She followed that up with a layup and Saline led 9-2.
“We got out of the gate a little sluggish. Maddy Welch really turned it on,” Roehm said. “She led us, not all the time with scoring, but just by her knowledge. She made the right passes and moved the ball and went after rebounds. I thought she stepped up big time.”
The Hornets took that advantage into the second quarter. The Hornets got things started with a basket by Erin Reilly (four points, two rebounds, two steals). Bentley followed up with a basket to make it 13-2.
Cammi Tirico got hot for Skyline, scoring seven of her nine points in the second quarter, helping Skyline close to within 16-12. But Saline’s senior shooter Nicole Sweetland also got hot. She hit two threes in the second quarter. Her second made it 19-12 Saline. She finished the night with four three-point baskets.
Roehm was glad to see her senior shooter find her shot after a tough stretch. She talked to Sweetland earlier this week about the importance of shooting your way out of a slump.
“Great players go through slumps. James Harden, the year he won the MVP, missed 22 threes in a row,” Roehm said. “Be James Harden. Shoot your way through it.”
Sweetland spent extra time in the gym working with Roehm.
“She got in the gym, outside of practice, outside of school and worked at it. I’m so proud she shot well today,” Roehm said.
Liz Sekerak hit a jump shot to make it 21-12.
Ella Stemmer went 2-for-2 from the stripe and Boyd also added a free throw basket as Saline took a 24-17 lead into the dressing room.
The Hornets buzzed to an 11-0 run to the start the third quarter.
After Bentley got a point from the stripe, Stemmer made a three-pointer. That was followed by another Sweetland three to make it 32-17.
After Stemmer added another point from the free throw line, Reilly made a layup. Saline led 34-17.
Sweetland and Stemmer made baskets later in the quarter and Sophie Gasparovic hit a three pointer. Saline led 42-27 after three quarters.
Bentley opened the scoring in the fourth quarter.
After a Skyline basket, Sweetland responded with another three-pointer. Saline went up 49-27 when Boyd stole a ball and rushed in for a basket.
Welch and Stemmer each went 2-for-2 from the line to make it 53-27.
Welch and Emily Woodman added late baskets for the Hornets.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Nicole Sweetland – Sweetland put in extra time this week to work on her game. It paid off as the senior hit four three-pointers and led Saline with 14 points.
- Ella Stemmer – Stemmer didn’t pour in 20 points like she does some nights – but she had a great all around game with 11 points, eight rebounds, three steals and six assists.
- Maddy Welch – The senior helped Saline set the right tone late in the first quarter with a three-pointer and basket that stood as Saline’s opening statement. She played fierce basketball throughout the contest.