Saline bounced back from its first loss of the season to defeat Melvindale, 40-23, in the Hornets’ home opener Tuesday night at Saline High School.
Junior Griffin Yaklich scored 11 points to lead the Hornets – but the big story was the defense.
On a night when the Hornets struggled to consistently make shots, the frenetic Hornet defense stifled the Melvindale attack.
As Hornet forward and future Penn State hurler Logan Evans, Saline was pitching a shutout at the end of the first quarter. Melvindale didn’t score until 2:42 of the second quarter.
Coach Jake Fosdick wasn’t pleased with the team’s defensive effort against Woodhaven Friday. He liked the way his team bounced back against a similar team Tuesday.
“They’re one of those teams that crashes the boards hard and tries to pressure you defensively. We didn’t answer the bell physically at Woodhaven. So the challenge today was to keep them off the glass, be more physical with them and I thought we did a much better job on the boards then Friday,” Fosdick said. “We confused them, we flustered them. We were very active with our high hands and we made them take tough shots.”
The Saline coach isn’t letting the team use height or weight as an excuse to get on the boards.
The Hornets needed their stellar defensive effort, because their offense struggled to hit their shots.
Yaklich opened the scoring when he lost his defender with a half-spin along the baseline before making his layup.
Only 30 seconds later, Peter Jacobsen made it 5-0 with a long three-point shot.
It stayed that way for nearly five minutes. Nathan Holmberg was fouled on his way to the hoop and went 1-for-2 from the stipe.
Melvindale responded with one of its best possessions of the quarter, passing the ball around the perimeter, getting a good shot off and then rebounding and setting up again. But the Hornets wouldn’t budge, literally. Sophomore guard Derek Caldwell took a hard offensive charge from a bigger player – and the Hornets took possession.
“I’m really proud of Derek Caldwell. He really gave us a burst coming off the bench. He took a charge tonight – his first varsity charge. He controlled the ball,” Fosdick said.
A few seconds later, Yaklich dropped the three-point bomb on the Cardinals. Saline took the 9-0 lead into the second quarter.
Melvindale finally got on the board with a couple baskets midway through the second quarter.
With 3:30 to play in the quarter, Yaklich rebounded a Jaden Pickett three-point attempt and put it back to make it 11-5.
A minute later, Yaklich passed to Anthony Ferrari who drove the lane and laid in for two. Melvindale made it 13-8 with another three-pointer. Ferrari gave Saline a 14-8 lead with a free throw. Saline took that lead to the dressing room.
The third quarter opened with Logan Evans chasing down a Cardinal and stuffing him as he went up for the layup.
The Hornets’ scoring struggles continued for most of the quarter. The Cardinals closed to within two at 14-12.
That’s when freshman Cooper Fairman hit a three-pointer to make it 17-12. On Saline’s next possession, Fairman was fouled and went 1-for-2 from the line, making it 18-12. The Cardinals replied with a basket, but Logan Evans hit rainbow three pointer from the top of the key to make it 21-14.
Saline led 21-16 going into the fourth.
In the fourth, it was all Saline.
Evans opened the scoring with a layup 56 seconds into the quarter. Yaklich added two more points from the stripe to make it 25-16. Evans followed by putting back his own rebound to make it 27-16.
After the Cardinals scored to cut Saline’s lead to nine, Ferrari replied for Saline. And then Holmberg hit a three-pointer and made a layup to make it 34-18. After a Cardinal three-pointer, Holmberg capped his eight-point fourth quarter by going 2-for-2 from the stripe.
Yaklich followed with a basket and then Jason Head went 2-for-2 from the stripe to complete Saline’s scoring.
The Hornets are home Friday night to Ypsilanti Lincoln and 6’8 Emoni Bates, considered the best freshman basketball player in the nation.
“He’s a great player. They’re a great program. But we don’t fear anybody. We look forward for the opportunity to get to play against it,” Fosdick said. “When we started this program we wanted to play the best. We want to beat the best. We have high expectations for ourselves. So it’s a great opportunity. No one’s afraid of anything. It’s just going to be a great showdown on Friday night in Saline.”
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Griffin Yaklich – Yaklich faced a lot of defensive attention all night and managed 11 points while also being partially responsible for Saline’s much improved rebounding.
- Peter Jacobsen – Hit the early three and that was it for his offense, but it’s hard to quantify how valuable he is to the Hornet defense. Jacobsen is the guy on this team carrying the torch for the Finkbeiner-Foley-Turner brand of Hornet basketball.
- Logan Evans – Scored seven points, was a big help on the boards and had that defensive block which might have been the defensive play of the game.