BASKETBALL: Saline Girls Open the Season by Defeating Livonia Stevenson, 58-37
A power outage in Pittsfield Township wasn't enough to stop a Saline varsity girls' basketball team energized to start their season Tuesday.
Saline was scheduled to host Livonia Stevenson but the game was moved to Saline Middle School due to the power outage.
Nine different Hornets scored as Saline defeated Stevenson, 58-37. Senior Sophie Canen led the Hornets with 14 points, four steals and three blocks. Junior Taylor Kangas, in the starting lineup for the first time, scored 11 points and had five rebounds, three steals and five assists. Anna Hesse grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with her four points, two steals and three blocks.
Saline shook off early game nerves in the second quarter. Tied at 14, the Hornets fired four three-pointers during a 14-6 run to take control of the contest.
"I think that we look like we have work to do. There was a lot of good things that happened, but I think that we were nervous," Saline coach Leigh Ann Roehm said of her young team. "A lot of the things we have been working on in practice and that we've done in fall scrimmages, you didn't get to see today. I think there were a little bit of nerves. And I give Stevenson credit, too. They pressured the ball and they really crashed the boards hard."
Early in the game, it was a back-and-forth contest. After a Stevenson free-throw, Beth Ann Ford (2 points, four rebounds) scored from the paint after taking a pass from Kangas.
The Hornets were down 4-2 when Kangas and Canen worked the give-and-go and Canen tied the score.
Midway-through the quarter, Kangas made it 7-6 with a three-pointer after Stemmer rebounded the ball and passed it to her. Saline went up 9-6 when Canen scored with a long jump shot. Stevenson made two straight baskets to take a 10-9 lead. Stemmer (8 points, three rebounds) replied with back-to-back baskets to give Saline a 13-10 lead.
A free-throw from Kangas made it 14-10 Saline. Stevenson scored the final basket of the quarter. Saline led, 14-12.
Stevenson tied the game to open the second quarter.
Senior Josie Cayen (3 points) stepped up with a three-pointer that put Saline up 17-14 - a lead the Hornets never did relinquish. Cayen's three came after an offensive rebound and a pass by Hesse.
After a field goal by Stevenson, Ella Dean (8 points, 3 rebounds and 4 steals) hit a three-pointer from the corner to make it 20-16. That was followed by a basket by Stemmer, three-pointer by Canen and another three from Dean.
Saline led 28-18.
"Those threes started making us believe. We are a three-point shooting team. Those (threes) make us feel like we're doing the things we really like to do. That really sparked us," Roehm said. "Josie and and Ella are going to do that for us all year."'
Saline went up 30-20 when Kangas inbounded the ball to Hesse who banked the shot in from under the net. Saline led 30-22 at halftime.
Canen opened the scoring in the third quarter, scoring while taking a hard foul on her way to the hoop. She also made her free-throw shot to make it 33-22. That started a nine-point run that featured another layup by Kangas, a couple of free throws by Canen and a layup by Stemmer.
Kangas added another three-pointer to make it 42-25 and then scored another basket.
That was followed by the first varsity basket every by Kadyn Maida (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks), who looked increasingly comfortable as the game went on. Canen added a basket as Saline took a 48-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
There were more milestones in the fourth quarter. Hadley Griffin scored her first varsity basket on a nice run through the paint and a shot she banked in.
That was followed by a basket by Dean and two more from Maida.
Despite the slow start, Saline finished with a convincing win. Many girls contributed on the scoresheet.
"We have six new players. Last year we graduated five of our top seven minute-getters. We have a lot of people who are learning what it feels like to be in a varsity game, but I think what you saw from our team tonight is that we have a lot of people who can do the work," Roehm said. "A lot of people put in time over the summer, over the spring, over the fall. They were diligent in their work."
Roehm said Hornet observers were probably surprised by some of the improvements made by players since last season. Perhaps nobody showed that more than Kangas, who served in a depth role providing energy off the bench last year. On Tuesday, Kangas did a little bit of everything. She brought the ball up the floor. She quarterbacked the offense. She played tough defense. She rebounded. She scored from distance and made her way through the paint.
"She's going to surprise some people. She won't be a surprise to me, though," Roehm said. "She knew as a sophomore that she was coming to learn. We had such great team. She wanted to learn, whether she was getting minutes or not. She was that energy spark last year. But she really grew her game. Her game improved. Her confidence improved."
She's also three inches taller.
And, she's still an energy player for the Hornets, despite doing all those other things.
"I just love her energy. She's an emotional leader for us," Roehm said. "There's no compliment like a Taylor compliment. The way she screams and cheers and gets excited for you, it's so genuine and she really fires our team."
Saline visits Arbor Prep Saturday to play Davison.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
1. Taylor Kangas - Kangas didn't just surprise - she was probably the best all-around player on the floor in this contest. She excelled in just about every area of the game.
2. Sophie Canen - Stevenson knew who they had to defend, and they tried their best to make things tough on Canen, who still managed a team-high 14 points despite taking a lot of abuse from the physical Stevenson team.
3. Anna Hesse - Hesse grabbed 10 rebounds and helped the Hornets on both ends of the court.