The Saline Hornets traveled to Monroe Friday night to take on the Trojans and by the end of the night the Monroe Trojans were waving the white flag. Saline won 58-18 to improve to 12-3 overall and 6-1 in the SEC Red.
The Hornets pride themselves in playing tough defense but Friday night’s game against SEC rival Monroe served notice to the rest of the league that Saline is a defensive force to be reckoned with. Led by their dynamic duo, senior guards Ryan Foley and Jacob Finkbeiner, along with dual beasts under the basket, senior forward Calder Pellerin and junior forward Emmett Turner, the Hornets flexed their defensive muscle in limiting the Trojans to four first quarter points, and eight points in the entire first half.
Saline shot out to a 7-0 lead in the game when Turner opened the scoring, followed by Pellerin for a put back following a rebound and a three-pointer from the corner. Following a Trojan turnover, Finkbeiner drove to the basket for another two. Again Monroe turned the ball over and Foley drove to the basket, drawing a foul and sinking a free throw. Before seven minutes had rolled off the clock to start the game, the Hornets were leading 13-3. By the time the horn blew ending the first eight minutes, Saline had jumped out to a 20-4 lead.
Pellerin hit a three from the corner to start of the second quarter, followed by senior guard Sean Millspaugh converting on one of three free throws, then stealing the in-bounds pass to put in another two. Senior guard Justin Zylstra sank two free throws to add two more points to close out the scoring as the Hornets walked to the locker room leading 36-8.
“We pride ourselves on playing defense. That is who we are and that is how we play the game,” Head Coach Jacob Fosdick said following his team’s victory. “I think we are one of the best defensive teams in the SEC, maybe even the state.” For the game, Saline forced Monroe into 25 turnovers, compared to just 8 for Saline. “We had a very good week of practice and we came out and played just like we practiced.” Fosdick continued, “We have had some very emotional wins this year, and some emotional losses. We are learning how to play after each. I thought the team responded very well following our loss to Lincoln. They are really learning how to play with emotion, and keeping that emotion controlled. We come to play defense, nothing else matters. All offense starts on the defensive side of the court.”
The second half Saline brought more intense pressure. The pressure forced the Trojans into committing turnovers, which led to more easy scores for the Hornets. The Hornets started the quarter with a 7-0 run. Monroe finally put up their first points of the second half with 2:55 left in the third quarter. Turner got things rolling making a shot from under the basket, getting fouled and sinking that to up Saline’s lead to 43-8. Zlystra hit another three-pointer to give Saline a 49-11 lead, and at that point Coach Fosdick pulled out the starters.
The Saline bench outscored the Trojan bench 7-5 in the fourth quarter which was running time due to the Hornets’ 40-point lead. Senior guard Mitch Carter hit a bank shot off the glass from the top of the key, followed by a beautiful tip-in shot off a rebound by junior forward Adam Heisler. Millspaugh scored. Junior forward Erik Wenning added four points. In the end, all Monroe could do was to start a pushing match with :08 seconds left in the game. It was an impressive defensive effort by the Hornets, and an impressive win over a team they were supposed to beat. The win ups their record to 12-3 on the year.
The Hornets are off until next Friday when they will host Bedford. Tip-off time is 7pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Calder Pellerin (16 points, 5 rebounds)
2nd Star: Emmett “The Beast” Turner (12 points, 9 rebounds)
3rd Star: The “Dynamic Duo” –
Ryan Foley (9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) & Jacob Finkbeiner (8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist)
JV SQUAD DROPS A HEART-BREAKER AT MONROE
The Saline JV squad dropped a game they could have won, probably even should have won Friday night at Monroe. The Hornets trailed the entire game until a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback effort saw them erase a 14-point deficit to pull ahead 54-53 with 1:23 left in the game. But Monroe scored the final four points of the game, including two clutch free throws to win 57-54.
Saline started slowly highlighted by missing open shots, poor rebounding and an overall lack of effort playing defense. They ended a sloppily played first quarter with six turnovers and trailed the Trojans 12-9. The Hornets continued their ragged play in the second quarter, never seeming to get into any kind of rhythm on offense or defense. They managed to outscore Monroe 13-11 to go into the locker room down 23-22.
“We had another week of sloppy practices and we came out and played sloppy again,” Head Coach Jason Pickett said following the game. “I at a loss to explain it. I don’t believe in making excuses. We have to practice better if we want to play better in games. We need better focus and better execution.”
The wheels fell off the wagon for the Hornets in the third quarter, as turnovers, missed opportunities and poor defensive play allowed Monroe to outscore Saline 19-6 in the third quarter to take a 42-28 lead into the final stanza. Who knows what inspired the Hornets in the frantic fourth quarter as they started the quarter with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 42-34. Tenacious defense forced the Trojans into turnovers which Saline quickly converted to points. Sophomore forwards Ethan Friedrichsen and Ryan Koch led the charge, fighting under the basket to put up shots, draw fouls and then convert the foul shots. Sophomore guard Ryan Grill also put up some points in that dramatic fourth quarter rally. In the end, it was too little, too late. The late game heroics would fall just short. The JV squad’s season record falls to 12-3 on the year. They get back into action Friday night when they will host Bedford. Tip off time is 5:30pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Ryan Koch (14 points, 4 rebounds)
2nd Star: Ethan Friedrichsen (13 points, 6 rebounds)
3rd Star: Ryan Grill (12 points, 2 rebounds)
SALINE FRESHMEN WIN AT MONROE 56-46
The Saline freshmen hoopsters fell behind early but came roaring back to beat the Monroe Trojans 56-46 Friday night in Monroe. Led by freshman guard Josh Finn’s 21 points, including four three point shots in the fourth quarter where Saline outscored Monroe 22-8 to capture the victory. The freshmen squad will get back into action Friday night when they host Bedford. Game time is 4pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Josh Finn (21 points)
2nd Star: Ben Stack (14 points)
3rd Star: Patrick Bellinger (8 points)