BASKETBALL: Ferocious Defense, Ball Sharing Leads Saline to Opening Night Win at Livonia Stevenson

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Over the last two seasons, the Saline varsity girls' basketball team has graduated two of the best players in the history of the program. And yet there they were again, Tuesday at Livonia Stevenson, opening the season with the kind of dominating performance that has become uncommonly normal around Coach Leigh Ann Roehm's program.

Saline's defense blitzed and pressed Stevenson into submission in a 47-14 victory at Stevenson to open the 2022-23 season Tuesday.

"Our defensive energy was tremendous. We really pressured and rotated well. When I go back and re-stat the game, my guess is I find that almost every buck either came from an assist or from a steal from a great defensive play," coach Roehm said.

In fact, that's how the season's first points were scored. The Hornets came up with a mid-court steal and Taylor Kangas (5 assists) fed Kadyn Maida (13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) for a breakaway.

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Moments later, Maida fought through a foul and scored again to make it 4-0.

After a Stevenson point from the stripe, rookie Keira Roehm (15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) scored for the Hornets, driving to the hoop for a 6-1 lead.

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Senior Anna Hesse (2 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks) gave Saline an 8-1 lead late in the quarter, taking a pass and scoring on a power move under the rim.

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Saline led 8-3 after the first quarter.

It wasn't long into the second quarter that the Hornets wore out their opponents. There was one sequence where the Hornets  must have fired five or six shots without scoring. Saline kept winning the rebounds and loose balls. And when they didn't, they just stole the ball back.

Maida opened the second quarter scoring with a three-pointer.

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On Stevenon's next trip up the floor, Kangas stole the ball and set in Maida for another layup. Saline led 13-3.

Roehm, known for her outside shooting, made it 16-3 with her first high school three.

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Kate Stemmer (8 points, 8 rebounds, 8 steals, 3 assists) stole the ball and scored to make it 19-3. Roehm tallied again to make it 20-6 and then after a Stevenson three, Stemmer shot through an open lane and scored to make it 22-9.

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Roehm hit a late three to give Saline the 25-11 lead they took into halftime.

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The third quarter started the way the first two did, with Maida scoring for Saline.

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"I was impressed with the confidence and poise from our young players. We had a freshman and sophomore lead us in scoring which says a lot for the preparation of Keira and Kadyn," Roehm said.

Saline went up 29-11 when Stemmer harassed a Stevenson girl into a turnover and then scored from underneath.

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"Kate Stemmer is a ferocious defender. She dictated the tempo of the entire game at both ends of the floor," Roehm said.

After another basket by Stemmer, Saline led 31-13. The Hornets finished the quarter with baskets by Beth Ann Ford (2 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks), Roehm and Maida to take a 39-13 lead into the fourth quarter.

Saline spent most of the fourth quarter passing the ball around the perimeter and in and out of the arc. Roehm, Payton Maloney (2 points, 3 rebounds) and Hadley Griffin (5 points) scored down the stretch. 

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Throughout the fourth quarter, Saline's hoopsters looked off quality chances to feed teammates.

"They just share the ball so well. They've decided that any person can step up and be the one. I think you're going to see that all the way through. You're going to see different people in the scoring column every single night because we have a deep bench," Roehm said.

One of keys to that sharing is  senior Taylor Kangas, who carries the rock up the floor most times. Kangas didn't score, but she had five assists.

"Taylor Kangas deserves a big shout out. I thought she distributed the ball masterfully. She created so many open looks for everyone. Everyone got great shots tonight because of the way Taylor distributed it," Roehm said.

Roehm also praised the work of Ford and Hesse for the work they did underneath the basket.

"Anna Hesse and Beth Ann Ford were incredible on the glass and in rotations on the back of our defense. Both of them are going to have big offensive games this year, but the were huge on the defensive side of the ball for us tonight," Roehm said.

PHOTO GALLERY:

There are some photos below. For the full gallery, click here.

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