The Saline varsity boys’ hoops squad opened their SEC Red division schedule with a 57-46 home win over the Bedford Kicking Mules Friday night, upping their season record to 6-3. Junior guard Griffin “Lightning” Yaklich turned in a superior performance, leading the team in scoring, rebounds and assists.
Yaklich scored a season-high 25 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing off 7 assists. While his teammates needed a little time to shake the rust off from the holiday break, “Lightning” came out strong, scoring 19 of his 25 points in the first half.
Watching the Hornets play, there were moments of brilliance and moments where the team struggled, especially on defense.
“I thought we played good defense on Bedford’s first shots but allowed too many offensive rebounds and easy second shots,” Saline head coach Jacob Fosdick said.
Junior forward Trevor “Thunder” Arico opened the scoring twenty seconds into the game when he hit a jump shot. That was followed by a Yaklich shot and junior forward Tyler Belskus hit two jumpers and converted a free throw to give Saline a 9-5 lead.
With 3:27 left in the opening quarter, senior forward Logan Evans converted a shot and Yaklich scored the final five points of the quarter to up Saline’s lead to 17-11.
It was Yaklich’s dazzling play in the second quarter that created the buzz in the Saline High School gym. “Lightning’s” ball-handling was impressive, which seems to get better with each game. It is the responsibility of the team’s point guard to direct the offense, getting everyone involved in the offense. Friday night, Yaklich made everyone on the court with him better.
Yaklich scored 11 of Saline’s 15 second quarter points to give the Hornets a 32-25 halftime lead.
Every team makes adjustments at halftime and Bedford was no different. They adjusted their defense in an attempt to control Yaklich. The Kicking Mules were successful in limiting the points that Yaklich scored but that simply opened up scoring opportunities for other Hornets. Sophomore forward Anthony Ferrari took advantage of that to lead the Hornets scoring all seven of his points in the third quarter.
At a time when it looked like Bedford might make a run to get back into the game, Ferrari answered them with his own timely scoring. But it was Hornet’s defense that took center stage to force six Bedford third quarter turnovers and limiting the Kicking Mules to just six points. Saline held a 48-31 lead heading into the final quarter.
Arico scored five of his ten points in the final quarter to lead the Hornets to a 57-46 win.
“I was happy with how we played offensively,” said Fosdick, “but to be successful in this league you cannot give that many second chances.” Fosdick had high praise for his junior guard Griffin Yaklich.
“Griffin has such good vision of the court, and can get everyone involved in the offense.” Fosdick said that junior guard Trevor Arico is coming off an injury and is getting better each week. “Trevor is working hard and I expect him to have a big game soon.”
The Hornets have two huge SEC Red Division games next week, hosting Ann Arbor Pioneer on Tuesday and Skyline High School on Friday. Both games are at Saline High School. Tip off time is 7 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1st Star: Griffin Yaklich (25 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists)
2nd Star: Anthony Ferrari (7 points, 2 rebounds)
3rd Star: Trevor Arico (10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist)
JV SQUAD DOWNS BEDFORD 48-35, RECORD GOES TO 8-1
The Saline junior varsity team picked right up where they left off in 2018, playing offense with discipline offense and tenaciously on defense. The Hornets forced the Bedford Kicking Mules into 20 turnovers for the game, cruising to a 48-35 win.
The story was written in the second and third quarters, with the Hornets outscoring Bedford 25-1, 14-5 in the second quarter and 11-6 in the third.
“In the huddle after the first quarter I asked the guys to increase their defensive pressure and hold their opponent to single digits,” said JV Coach Jason Pickett, with his team leading 15-12 after eight minutes of play.
His young charges took his request to heart. They opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run to put the game out of reach. Freshman guard Evan Merillat led the scoring in the second quarter with eight points to lead the Hornets to a 29-17 lead at the half.
Sophomore Benjamin Sundquist scored all six of his points in the third quarter to lift Saline to a 40-23 lead heading into the final quarter.
Four different players scored Saline’s final eight points to close out the 48-35 win. Following the game Coach Pickett had praise for his team’s effort. “We got into a good rhythm tonight and it showed in their defensive play. When we play as a team, we will always be OK.”
The JV squad will face Pioneer on Tuesday and Skyline next Friday at Saline High School. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1st Star: Evan Merillat (14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists)
2nd Star: Luke Darmos (12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists)
3rd Star: Benjamin Sundquist (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist)
FRESHMEN HOOPSTERS A PERFECT 9-0 ON SEASON
There is something special going on with the Hornet freshmen basketball squad this season. They are a prefect 9-0 on the year. They have methodically beaten each opponent, most by double digits. They have led every minute of most games this year.
And they keep getting better and better. It is time for the high school students and community to begin to take notice of this squad, and get to their games to cheer them on.
On Friday evening at Saline High School, the led the Bedford Kicking Mules by three at the half, 21-18. They used a third quarter surge to pull ahead by ten, 38-28 and then scored an impressive 50-36 win.
The team was led by freshman Eric Wood’s ten points, followed by George VanHaaften’s 8 and Joshua Koch’s 7 points.
The freshmen will host Pioneer on Tuesday and Skyline on Friday. Tip off time is 4 p.m.
SALINE POST 3 STARS:
1ST Star: Eric Wood (10 points)
2nd Star: George VanHaaften (8 points)
3rd Star: Josua Koch (7 points)