BASKETBALL: Saline Girls Dunk Huron to Advance to the District Final
The Hornets will play for the girls' basketball district championship for the third straight season - and looking for the second straight trophy.
Playing at home, Saline (16-1) defeated Huron (3-12), 66-27, in the district semifinal. Saline advanced to the district championship against Belleville at 7 p.m., Friday, at Saline High School.
The Hornets had beaten the River Rats 70-33 and 69-33 during the regular season. Thursday night, the Saline came out ready to play, forcing turnover after turnover, winning 50-50 balls and taking the battle of the boards.
Saline built a 22-2 lead by the end of the first quarter despite senior captain Ella Stemmer sitting for half of it with two fouls.
"They showed up with a fire in their eye and a focus in their brain that said, 'Hey, we have to show up. This is the big dance,'" Saline coach Leigh Ann Roehm said. "They showed up ready for business, ready to take the game one possession at a time. We were loose but focused, which is a great combination to have."
Senior captain Ella Stemmer had another big game, scoring 19 points, adding 15 rebounds, tying a school record with eight assists and adding four steals. Sophie Canden scored 14 points and had four steals. Josie Cayen scored eight points. Kate Stemmer scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds, and had two rebounds and two assists.
From the get-go, the Hornets caused turnovers and scored points. Ella Stemmer got the steal and passed wot Emily Wilczynski who sprinted in alone for the first basket of the game. The next basket also came off a steal, with Stemmer setting up Canen. Huron got the next basket to make it 4-2 and then Saline rolled to an 18-point run to end the quarter.
Ella Stemmer hit two threes and made another basket to give Saline a 14-2 lead. Then she picked up her second foul and went to the bench. But from there Canen hit a three, scored on a nice drive through the paint and Brielle Eugeni hit a three.
The game was essentially over. Saline went on to lead 41-9 at halftime. It was 52-11 midway through the third when Stemmer called in the reserves.
The focus now is on the district championship game and Belleville. Belleville advanced because Pioneer had to withdraw from the tournament because of COVID-19 quarantines.
The Tigers went 9-2 this year, losing only to Wayne Memorial and Livonia Stevenson (who Saline beat, 53-24 on March 1). Coach Roehm has film on the Tigers.
"They're tough. They're going to bring everything we can handle. We're going to have to show up Friday night because they're a really great team," Roehm said.
For many of the Hornets, going into the district championship game is familiar territory. Two years ago, Saline lost a heartbreaker at Pioneer. Last year, Saline won a huge game against Huron to win the team's first district in years. Ella Stemmer said the Hornets are ready.
"It's super exciting. I know every one of my teammates wants to win bring home that championship on our home court," Stemmer said.
JV call-ups Payton Maloney and Hadley Griffin got in the game, with Maloney hitting a long jump shot. Down the stretch, Josie Cayen hit three straight shots, including two threes. Mallory Bohl scored points. Ella Dean scored a long shot with apparently one foot over the three-point arc. It was a great chance for Saline's younger players to contribute while getting a taste of the playoffs.
To get a sense of the kinds of second and third chances the Hornets got, see this video
Saline shut down Huron star Jordan Wright when it mattered. She scored 38 points Monday in a double-overtime win. At halftime Wednesday, she had zero points. She finished with 10.
Interview with Sophie Canen, who scored nine points during Saline's 22-point first quarter.
Here are the district finalists in Region 5.
District 20: Wayne Memorial (13-1) vs Westland John Glenn (8-7)
District 19: Plymouth (11-7) vs Canton (6-10)
District 18: Saline (16-1) vs Belleville (10-2)
District 17: Brighton (14-3) vs South Lyon East (12-6)
Saline Hornet stats vs Huron:
- Ella Stemmer - 19 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals (8 assists tied her own school record for assists in a game)
- Sophie Canen - 14 points, 4 steals
- Josie Cayen - 8 points
- Kate Stemmer - 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists
- Mallory Bohl- 4 points, 4 rebounds
- Natalie Sweetland- 3 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
- Brielle Eugeni - 3 points
- Beth Ann Ford - 2 points, 10 rebounds
- Emily Wilczynski- 2 points, 2 assists
- Ella Dean - 2 points
- Payton Maloney - 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists