The Saline Hornets began their 2018-19 varsity hoops season on the road with a 46 - 38 victory over the South Lyon Lions. This year’s team is young. Very young. It features just two seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and one freshman.
There will be no beasts roaming under the basket this season. Six juniors from last year’s squad did not return for their senior season. Saline head coach Jacob Fosdick acknowledged the differences with this year’s team from previous teams.
“I am very proud of this team and their effort tonight,” Fosdick said after the game. “It was a little scary and I wasn’t sure what we would look like. But this team is the most skilled team I have ever coached. And they played very tenacious on defense the entire game.”
“Every player can shoot, pass and dribble. We don’t have players like (Ryan) Foley and (Jake) Finkbeiner. We don’t have Emmet (Turner). But we do have very talented, skilled players who work very, very hard,” he said.
The young Hornets were very stingy on defense forcing South Lyon into ten (10) first quarter turnovers, and a mind-blowing 29 turnovers for the game. Saline committed only nine turnovers the entire game.
Both teams started tentatively, going up and down the court but missing early shots. Junior guard Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich opened the scoring thirty (30) seconds into the season with a short jumper, giving Saline a 2– 0 lead. Those were two of Yaklich’s game high 20 points.
Yaklich closed out the scoring in the opening quarter driving the length of the floor off a Lion turnover to provide the Hornets with their narrow two-point advantage, 10–8 at the end of first quarter.
The second quarter was a defensive battle from start to finish. Junior forward Tyler Belskus hit a three-pointer to give the Hornets a 13– 11 lead with 3:27 left in the quarter. The Lions outscored the Hornets 8– 6 in the quarter and the teams headed to the locker room tied 16– 16 at the half.
The third quarter scoring featured Yaklich and senior guard Peter Jacobsen. The pair combined to score all eleven of Saline’s points which gave the Hornets a slim one-point lead, 27– 26, heading into the final quarter.
Throughout the fourth quarter Coach Fosdick kept imploring his team to finish. And his team did.
The Hornets’ defense was stifling. Forcing the Lions into seven fourth quarter turnovers, and scoring six points directly off those turnovers, Saline outscored South Lyon 19– 12 in the final quarter, to take a hard fought 46– 38 victory. Senior forward Logan Evans hit two three-pointers, plus another short jumper, scoring eight (8) of his ten game points in the final eight minutes of play.
“The guys played with so much intensity tonight,” Coach Fosdick said. “For many of these guys, they were playing in their very first game at the varsity level. They went on the road and won, and that is always tough to do.”
Fosdick had high praise for senior guard Pete Jacobsen.
“Pete showed great leadership on the court tonight. He and Griffin (Yaklich) kept everyone focused and they helped to calm things down when the play got a little rough,” Fosdick said.
The rough and tumble play at the varsity level is one aspect of the game that will take some time for these young Hornets to get used to. In this game, and certainly in SEC Red play, you can count on the play being physical, with officiating being different from game to game. Learning to play through these adversities will be a key to this season’s success.
The Hornets get back into action on Friday when they travel to Woodhaven to take on the Warriors. Tip off time is 7 p.m.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich (20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists)
2nd Star: Logan Evans (10 points, 2 rebounds)
3rd Star: Tyler Belskus (7 points, 2 rebounds, 2-three-point shots)
JV Team Wins, 52-37
The Saline JV squad opened their 2018-19 season on the road with a 52– 37 victory over the South Lyon Lions. The Hornets were led by freshman guard Evan Merillat’s fifteen (15) points, followed by sophomore center Luke Darmos’ 11 points and Eli Trese’s nine (9) points.
JV Head Coach Jason Pickett was very pleased with his team’s first game performance.
“Our team didn’t get all together until last Wednesday. I am very pleased with how this group jelled and it showed in our defensive play tonight. Team chemistry will show up in your defensive play, and they did a great job tonight.”
The JV squad will travel to Woodhaven on Friday evening to take on the Warriors. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Evan Merilllat (15 points)
2nd Star: Luke Darmos (11 points)
3rd Star: Eli Trese (9 points)