BASKETBALL: Balanced Scoring, Defense Lead Saline Past Pioneer


The Saline girls' basketball team blanked Pioneer in the fourth quarter in a 43-30 win at home Friday.

Senior Captain Kate Stemmer scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds, had five steals and three assists as Saline improved to 7-2 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. The Hornets handed Pioneer its first SEC Red loss.

Despite playing well in losses to Dexter and Dewitt, the Hornets came into the game hungry for their first win of 2024.

"It was huge," Stemmer said of the victory. "I knew we needed to come back and get a win under us. After the two games we might have been feeling down, but after a good week of practices, even with our snow days we came back ready to play. I'm so proud of us."

Coach Leigh Ann Roehm praised the team's defensive work against a Pioneer team that was big and fast.

"I was really proud of the way our defense carried us through our shooting slumps. We battled with a sense of urgency on the glass against a Pioneer team that has tons of height and puts in a ton of effort on crashing. I thought our defense was the difference," Roehm said.

Stemmer was a stalwart all over the court.

"Kate Stemmer played a complete game filling the stat sheet. She played tough D, got in the rebounding mix and made some huge buckets for us. She also shot 100 percent from the free throw line which always makes a difference in big games like this. Kate is a true competitor and she showed it tonight," Roehm said.

Keira Roehm scored 13 points to go along with three rebounds, two steals and two assists. Kadyn Maida had 11 points, and she grabbed five rebounds. 

"Keira and Kadyn also made big plays. Keira really sparked us through Pioneer's hot shooting streak. I loved the way she got to the rim and knocked down 3s when they gave them. Her third-quarter 3 was a huge momentum builder and squashed a Pioneer run," Roehm said. "Kadyn was excellent in transition and fearless against the Pioneer bigs. She made some big plays and got us some easy buckets when we were in scoring droughts in the second half."

Hadley Griffin scored four points and had four rebounds and four steals. Ayla Stager scored the Saline's first two points and she had 10 rebounds.

Roehm credited Stager and Megan Sweet for their work on the glass against Pioneer's bigs like Emmanuel Davis.

"Two sophomore post players got their first taste of smash-mouth SEC Red basketball today as they matched up with the Pioneer bigs. I thought they were tremendous," Roehm said. "They accepted the physicality and brought a sense of urgency to their pursuit of the ball. Their defense was a huge storyline in the victory."

It was mostly a defensive struggle. Halfway through the first quarter, Saline was down 6-4 after getting 2 points from Stager at the line and a layup by Roehm.  Saline scored 12 points in the final four minutes to take an 18-12 lead into the second.

First, Keira Roehm hit a three-pointer to put Saline up, 7-5. Powell responded with a three for Pioneer to put Ann Arbor up, 9-7.

Stemmer responded with a three and then a drive through the paint to put Saline up 12-9. Pioneer came back with a basket and then a point from the stripe to tie the game at 12.

Saline finished the quarter with three-pointers by Roehm and Maida.

Comparatively, scoring was a grind in the second quarter. Nobody scored until nearly two minutes in when Maida used her speed and leaping ability to lay in, giving Saline a 20-12 advantage. The Hornets' shooting went cold for the next four minutes. Pioneer scored three baskets to narrow the gap to two points.

Saline closed out the half with a basket by Roehm and two free throws from Stemmer, restoring the lead to 24-18 as the teams broke for halftime.

The third quarter was hotly contested.

Stemmer opened the scoring about two minutes when Stemmer made a jump shot from just inside the arc. Pioneer responded with three straight baskets to make it 26-24. That was to be as close as Pioneer would get down the stretch.

Maida put back the rebound of a Stager shot to make it 28-24. Then Roehm made a three from in front of the Hornet bench for a seven-point lead.

Pioneer scored but Stemmer got it right back with a midcourt-steal and a basket. Pioneer had the last basket of the quarter. Saline led 35-30 going into the fourth.

Saline held the Pioneers off the board in the fourth.

Maida opened the scoring. She slashed through the paint and put it up for two points and a 37-30 lead.

Then, there was no scoring until Hadley Griffin hit a three-pointer from in front of her bench with 2:38 to play.

Saline was content running and passing the ball around the perimeter until Pioneer was forced to foul the Hornets. Griffin went 1-for-2 from the line and then Stemmer went 2-for-2.

Performances by the Saline Dance Team and Saline Pep Band enlivened the gym throughout the rivalry game.

"The crowd was loud! It was a great atmosphere. I always love experiencing games with a special atmosphere like this in a game that showcases very talented girls' basketball players on both benches. It was really fun to be a part of!" Roehm said.

Saline returns to action Tuesday at Bedford. The Hornets are home to Huron Friday.

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