BASKETBALL: Saline Boys Sweep Bedford
This is not going to be a typical article on Saline High School basketball tonight. The story tonight has more to do with other things, and none of it in the control of high school kids or their coaches.
The Hornets hosted the Kicking Mules from Bedford. The freshman got things rolling with a resounding 62-17 win, including a score of 20-2 in the first and third quarters. Head Coach Kirk Boettcher said his team played together and with toughness. Donavon Gillow and Bradley Leventhal scored 11 in the victory, while Brehima Sissoko scored 9. It was the team’s 11th win in a row and raises their record to 11-1 on the year.
Coach Jason Pickett’s JV team raised its record to a perfect 12-0 on the season with a win over the Kicking Mules. The teams were tied at 29 at the half but Saline pulled steadily ahead in the second half behind the strong play of freshman Dylan Messman. He led the team with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocked shots. Zachary Fidh scored 11 points and Garrett Baldwin 10. After the game Pickett talked about his team.
“We didn’t play the best tonight but that was to be expected coming off a big win two nights ago,” Pickett said. “With so few practices, the kids are holding up pretty well.”
The varsity hoopsters rode a huge second quarter, outscoring Bedford 17-6, to take a 29-21 lead into the locker room at the half. The Hornets did not commit a turnover in the first half and only five in the game.
Saline got timely three-point shots from senior Derek Caldwell and Jason Pickett and junior Cooper Fairman to secure the 59-53 win. With the win, the team’s season record goes to 8-5, 7-4 in the SEC Red.
Saline Head Coach Jake Fosdick talked after the game.
“We got off to a slow start but did better in the second half. We really need to improve on finishing teams off,” Fosdick said. “We got up by ten and then let them cut that lead down to three. We just can’t do that.”
But the teams had a different look tonight. At first, I thought the kids were ready for spring break and just not wanting to be playing basketball anymore. But I watched and listened. And I saw players come out of games and sit on the bench. They were out of it. And they looked exhausted.
But I have a different theory about tonight’s games. The teams have played six games in 13 days. They have had exactly one practice a week for three weeks. They live in a world dominated by a pandemic. Bedford had six players not playing due to COVID quarantine. The Bedford School System has just gone to all remote learning due to COVID.
Rumors are swirling that Ann Arbor Pioneer and Skyline must be forced to skip district play due to COVID. Saline kids have been working for a year and a half with some in-person learning and some remote. Sometimes it is all remote learning.
And the players are not able to play in front of their friends. The gyms are mostly silent. High school basketball is a sport filled with emotion. Empty gyms do not help generate energy or emotion.
I believe that the Saline players, like players throughout the Southeast Conference, are mentally exhausted. Their world today is all about trying to cope with adult problems. It is wearing them down.
And worse, basketball may no longer be fun for some. And that would be tragic.
The teams head into their final week of action next week. Their schedule includes:
Monday, 3-15-21 vs Ann Arbor Pioneer at SHS
Thursday, 3-18-21 @ Ann Arbor Huron
Saturday, 3-20-21 vs Ann Arbor Skyline at SHS
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME – VARSITY
Star: Anthony Ferrari (14 points, 9 rebounds, including 4 offensive rebounds & 5 assists)
Star: Tyler Thibeault (14 points, 2 rebounds, including 1 offensive rebound & 1 assist)
Star: Cooper Fairman (10 points, 4 rebounds, including 1 offensive rebound & 4 assists)
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME – JUNIOR VARSITY
Star: Dylan Messman (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists & 4 blocked shots)
Star: Zachary Fidh (11 points, 1 rebound & 1 assist)
3ed Star: Garrett Baldwin (10 points, 1 rebound & 1 assist)
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME – FRESHMEN
Star: Donavon Gillow (11 points)
Star: Bradley Leventhal (11 points)
Star: Brehima Sissoko (9 points)