Ella Stemmer scored 20 points and Nicole Sweetland added 15 as Saline smashed the Salem Rocks, 71-34, as Saline opened the varsity girls basketball season Tuesday at Saline High School.
It was one of the most dominant opening-night victories in recent Saline girls basketball history.
Stemmer scored Saline’s first seven points and led the Hornets to an early 14-3 lead. The Hornets never looked back.
Coach Leigh Ann Roehm said her team’s offseason work and diligence in practice helped the Hornets come into the season in good form.
“This group of young women put in a ton of commitment and work, out of season, in the spring. I would put the work they put in against anyone in the state. The committed to get better and wanted to improve and learn and I’m happy that it worked out that way tonight,” Roehm said. “I was really proud of Nicole and Ella that they stepped up to lead the way and open it up for everyone else.”
Stemmer, a sophomore, paced the Hornets throughout the net. She opened the scoring when she put back a rebounds. After Salem answered with a three-point shot, Stemmer caught a defender flatfooted and drove in the the arc for a layup to put the Hornets up 4-3. It was a lead they did not relinquish.
Saine went up 7-3 after Stemmer went 3 for 4 from the free throw line. For the night, Stemmer went 11 for 14 from the stripe.
After a couple of free trhows by senior Kelsey Alexander (7 points), senior Madeline Welch (four points) made a layup despite being fouled after Alexander inbounded her the ball.
A little more than midway through the quarter Sweetland, a senior, hit back-to-back threes to make it 17-3.
“Nicole has a passion and joy for the game that is fun to watch, so when she gets it going, it really ignites the team,” Roehm said.
After a couple of baskets by Salem, Sweetland made a short jump shot to make it 19-7. Amera Boyd (six points) made a free throw with 17.7 seconds left in the quarter. Saline took a 20-8 lead into the second quarter.
The Hornets were only slightly less explosive in the second quarter, putting up 17 more points. Again, it became with Stemmer going 3-for-4 from the line. Alexander followed with two points from the line. Leeya Lawson made with 27-9 with a 12-footer with 5:36 to play in the half.
After Welch stank two free throws to make it 29-13, Sweetland sank another three-pointer.
Senior Fiona Morcom converted a pass from Stemmer to make it 32-18.
After a couple of Salem points from the stripe, junior Elizabeth Sekerak beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to make it 37-20.
The Hornets came out a little slower in the third quarter. No team scored until Stemmer went 2-for-2 from the line about three minutes in.
After a Salem basket, Stemmer scored on a layup to make it 41-24.
Later in the quarter freshman Sophie Gasparovic hit a three-pointer for her first high school basket.
Saline wrapped up scoring in the third quarter with Sekerak making all three shots after being fouled attempting a long shot. Saline led 47-27 after three.
The fourth quarter was a parade to the free throw line. Saline went 12-for-22 from the line during the quarter.
Sweetland (three-pointer), Alexander, junior Steffi Bentley and Sekerak also made field goals for Saline.
Coach Roehm was pleased with her team’s effort on a night when Saline showed a lot of promise. Asked to talk about the strenghts of her team, Roehm pointed to leadership, depth and athleticism. There are six seniors on this year’s team in Welch, Alexander, Morcom, Sweetland, Lawson and Emily Woodman. In addition, juniors Erin Reilly and Sekerak and sophomore Ella Stemmer were key contributors to last year’s squad.
They’re joined this year by speedy guard Emily Wilcyyynski, juniors Boyd and Bentley and Gasparovic, the freshman.
Roehm said her team is more athletic this year. And that athleticism runs throughout the lineup. The Hornets simply didn’t let up on Salem Tuesday night.
Saline visits Livonia Stevenson Friday.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Ella Stemmer – The sophomore picked up where she left off during her fabulous freshman campaign, fearlessly driving the net and playing feisty defense. Roehm said she’s also worked to improve her outside shooting game.
- Nicole Sweetland – The senior shooter helped inflate the early lead with two three pointers. Her three-pointer while being fouled in front of her bench was probably the highlight of the game.
- Kelsey Alexander – Came in early when Erin Reilly got into foul trouble in the game’s opening minute. Alexander played tough under the basket and also contributed seven points.