BASKETBALL: Saline Defeats Ypsilanti to Open Playoffs, Faces Huron Next
It was as if the Hornets took a crash course in the culinary arts, with Head Coach Jacob Fosdick as their master chef.
The coach came up with a simple recipe for victory Tuesday evening against the Ypsilanti Grizzlies and his team executed it to perfection, riding an 18–6 second quarter to an impressive 51-38 win at Lincoln High School.
“We had to do three things tonight to win,” said Coach Fosdick. “We needed to take care of the ball (limit turnovers), keep them out of the paint (no lay-ups or shots from near the basket) and rebound.”
The team should get 5 Star Reviews on all three components.
Saline committed nine turnovers in the game, Ypsilanti had 19. Saline hauled down 28 rebounds while limiting the Grizzlies to 20. And Ypsilanti scored a total of 10 of their 38 points from inside the paint.
Both teams played tentatively in the opening quarter. Senior Jaden Pickett hit a short jumper at the 6:35 marker to knot the score at 2-2. A minute later Pickett hit one of his “Invisible Man” three-pointers from the corner. The Hornets were running their motion offense, with everyone moving. Pickett just disappears in the crowd and then emerges all alone in a corner to hit a three.
Junior Cooper Fairman scored the final five points of the quarter to stake Saline to a 10-9 lead at the end of one.
Whatever Fosdick said in the break, it worked. The Hornets came out to start the second quarter with a swarming defense and a turbo-charged offense. Junior guard Romeo Love came off the bench to lead the defensive effort. Love personally accounted for three turnovers in the quarter which he converted directly into points.
Love’s performance throughout the game was a sparkplug for his team. When he got going, the team got going with him. His high-energy play was contagious, as his teammates kicked it up a couple notches, going on a 16-4 run to jump out to a 26-13 lead with 1:20 left in the half. Love even picked up a blocked shot in the quarter.
Fairman connected on six points in the quarter, junior forward Joshua Koch and Love hit for four, and seniors Derek Caldwell and Anthony Ferrari each contributed two. The Hornets took a 28-13 lead into the locker room at the half.
The noted Saline zone defense absolutely shut the Grizzlies down in the third quarter, limiting Ypsilanti to a total of 5 points, while forcing them onto four turnovers.
Caldwell started the scoring off with a drive in the lane, sinking a lay-up and converting on a free throw. The Hornets then would not score for another four minutes, while Ypsilanti went on a 5-0 run. Following the time-out, Fairman hit a jumper and Love put an offensive rebound back up and in which upped Saline’s lead to 39-20. Fairman made a free throw and Saline headed into the final eight minutes, leading 40-23.
The Hornets started the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run, led by Love’s four points and a three-pointer by Caldwell. The Grizzlies then went on a 7-0 run, cutting the lead to 47-32 when Fosdick called a time-out. Coming out of the break, Fairman took an inbounds pass and hit a jumper. Caldwell closed out the Hornet scoring sinking two free throws with 1:43 left in the game to give Saline its 51-38 victory. In the final minute of play, The Hornets played “keep away” with the Grizzlies, with their motion offense exhausting the Ypsilanti defenders. In the final fifteen seconds, they just gave up.
Following the game, Fosdick talked about his team and the game.
“We did very well offensively in the first half,” Fosdick said. “And what can you say about the game that Romeo (Love) played. He was so tough on defense. His confidence has frown through out the year and it is showing now in March.”
The Hornets will take on Ann Arbor Huron on Thursday at Lincoln High School. Tip-off time is 7 p.m. The other semi-final game features Lincoln playing Belleville. That game starts at 5:30 p.m.
In the Thursday evening game, Huron will field a team with its best three starting players. Every other member of the varsity squad will not be able to play due to COVID quarantine. The remainder of the squad will be comprised of players from their junior varsity team.
THE SALINE POST THREE STARS OF THE GAME
Star: Romeo Love (10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 blocked shot & 5 steals)
Star: Cooper Fairman (18 points, 8 rebounds, including 3 offensive rebounds, 2 assists)
Star: Derek Caldwell (10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists & excellent ball-handling)