The nation is currently debating whether experience is needed to become an effective leader of the free world. Only time will answer that question. But for the Saline Hornets basketball team it has been the leadership of senior guards Ryan Foley and Jacob Finkbeiner and forwards Calder Pellerin and Justin Zylstra that has propelled the team to an 8-1 record after they finished off the Dexter Dreadnaughts 53-48 in overtime Saturday evening in Dexter.
“Saline and Dexter are very similar team,” Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick said following his team’s victory over the Dreadnaughts. “Dexter’s head coach Tim Cain was my seventh grade basketball coach and we have known each other for a long time. We both know each other’s plays so it’s not going to be a play that will make a difference. It was which team played the toughest and tonight that is what we did. We out-toughed them.”
Tough was an apt description for the game. It featured several lead changes, fouls being called on both teams, both coaches and their respective fans expressing their displeasure with the officiating early and often. In the end, it was Ryan Foley’s tenacious defense producing an end of game turnover that kept the game tied to give the Hornets a chance to win in overtime. Following his steal of the ball from Dexter, Foley dribbled to mid-court and got off a shot with a second left on the clock. Everyone in the building followed the ball as it traveled toward a Hornet victory but it bounced off the rim, to a collective moan from the Hornet fans.
In the overtime period, Saline scored the first five points to post a 51-46 lead. Dexter scored with 1:02 left in overtime. In the final minutes, Dexter fouled as their full-court press failed to stop Saline. Junior forward Emmett Turner went to the line and converted both shots. Then it was Foley who sank one of his two shots. Pellerin went to the line and converted another free throw. With 25 seconds left, Turner went back to the line and sank the first of two free throws to up the lead to 52-48. Following another Dreadnaught turnover, Finkbeiner fired a pass to Pellerin who was going in for an uncontested lay-up when he was fouled hard by Dexter, with the referee immediately signaling an intentional foul. Pellerin sank the first of two shots, upping the lead to 53-48 with three seconds left on the clock. With the intentional foul, Saline retained possession of the ball and could run off the last seconds to claim victory.
The game was close throughout. Saline led by one, 15-14 at the end of the first quarter but the game was tied 24-24 at the half. Senior guard Sean Millspaugh hit two three-point shots in the first half at key moments to answer scoring by Dexter.
In the second half, senior guard “Juice” Zylstra hit two three-point shots in another key moment of the game.
“Millspaugh and Juice hit some key shots for us when we really needed to respond to their scoring runs. They saved us at those moments of the game,” Coach Fosdick said. “That is what is so great about this team. They are tough. They play tough and they stick together.”
In the SEC, there might be higher-rated guards that Foley and Finkbeiner. There are guards who score more points. There are probably guards who will receive scholarships to play basketball at the next level. But you won’t find guards who work harder than Finkbeiner and Foley. You won’t find guards who want to win more than them. And you won’t find a pair who work in tandem better than Saline’s own “Dynamic Duo.”
A word to the wise to their hometown fans, and their school classmates: you are witness to something special. Last year the Hornets had a Man of Steel. This year, they have a collective Man of Steel: they have the “Dynamic Duo”, they have Emmett “The Beast” Turner, Justin “Juice” Zylstra. Pellerin needs a name. Saline, do yourself a favor, you are among emerging greatness. Just like the grid iron team, this year’s hoops team is something special. It started last year and they are building.
Come out and watch them (Their next home game is Friday, 1/13/17 vs AA Skyline). You will not be disappointed. The Hornets will travel to Lincoln Park on Tuesday. Tip-off time is 7 p.m.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Ryan Foley (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists)
1st Star: Jacob Finkbeiner (8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Calder Pellerin (15 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Emmett Turner (7 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist)
3rd Star: Sean Millspaugh (6 points)
3rd Star: Juice Zlystra (6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist)
JV HOOPSTERS TOP DEXTER 57-49
They came, they saw, they conquered. Three games in four nights. Three wins in four nights. Saline JV Head Coach Jason Pickett is really enjoying coaching this year’s JV squad. “We have played three games in four nights. And to come out with three wins is sensational. These kids compete, compete, compete.” He added, “there is no quit in them. They play together, practice together and are totally unselfish. I have a really fun job.”
The JV squad started like the varsity game. Down by two (16-14) at the end of one. Head to the locker room tied 26-26 at the half. But that is where the similarities to the varsity game end. The Hornets came out of the locker room at the half and took control of the game. Sophomore forward Ryan Koch and sophomore guard Peter Jacobsen made timely shots to pace the Hornets in the third quarter, outscoring the Dreadnaughts 13-8, staking Saline to a 39-34 lead heading into the final quarter.
In the final quarter Dexter made attempts to catch the Hornet. But each time they encountered Saline’s “Beast”. Whether in the offensive or defensive zone, anytime a Dreadnaught wondered around or underneath the basket, sophomore forward Brad Wisniewski was there. And whether he was blocking their shots back into their faces or into the stands, every Dexter player was looking to see where Wiesnewski was. He played like a hurricane on a basketball court. The Beast, combined with sophomore forward Ethan Friedrichsen provided a fourth quarter 1-2 punch to knock out the Dreadnaughts 57-49. The junior Hornets get back into action on Tuesday night when they travel to Lincoln Park. Game time is 5pm.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Brad Wisniewski (17 points, 7 rebounds)
2nd Star: Ethan Friedrichsen (12 points, 3 rebounds)
3rd Star: Peter Jacobsen (6 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists)