With a new coach, a new system and many girls playing their inaugural varsity basketball game, Saline fell to Chelsea, 36-25, in the season opener at Saline High School Tuesday.
The Hornets’ hard-working defense didn’t allow much – but Saline struggled to generate offensive opportunities and the girls fired a few stray shots they’d like to take back.
“We looked new. We’re a young team. We looked like we’re still learning how to run offense and how to run press breaks. I have confidence were going to improve,” said coach Leigh Ann Roehm. “Early on, we struggled with their press. We shot not as well as I anticipated. But there were some first-game jitters and nerves. But I have complete confidence they’ll fall later on in the year. But once we settled down I thought we played well.”
Freshman Ella Stemmer led the Hornets with six points. She struggled in the first half and was one of the best players on either team in the second half. Asia Lindsey and Nicole Sweetland each scored five points. Erin Reilly scored three points. Brooke Bauer, Madeline Welch and Liz Sekerak each scored two points.
Chelsea was led by sophomore Riley Davis, who scored all of her nine points in the second half. Seven of her points came in the third quarter, just as the Hornets looked like they might make a game of it. Jenna Fosdick and Abigale Fullerton each scored six points for the Bulldogs.
Chelsea started to a 4-0 lead. Welch got Saline on the board with a pretty drive through the lane for two. Chelsea responded with a couple more baskets.
Bauer replied with a short jump shot along the baseline. But Chelsea answered with a basket from Fullerton and led 10-4 after the first quarter.
Reilly opened the scoring in the second quarter with a steal and uncontested layup. Chelsea replied with a couple of baskets to increase their lead.
Lindsey got the Hornets to within five with a three-point shot. Chelsea replied with three points from the free throw line. Reilly went 1-for-2 from the line and then Lindsey scored to cut Chelsea’s lead to 17-12. But Chelsea’s Madeleine Vasquez to give Chelsea a seven-point lead at halftime.
Ella Stemmer opened the scoring for the Hornets in the third quarter, driving in from the corner and laying the ball in for her first high school basket. Saline was down 19-14. The Hornets had several chances to cut into the lead but couldn’t sink their shots. Finally, Anna Regis broke drought for the Bulldogs. Davis followed with a put-back and then a three-point shot. Fosdick added a basket and Chelsea’s lead ballooned to 28-14.
The Hornets refused to give in though. Liz Sekerak made a layup – her first varsity points. Sweetland followed with a three-pointer – her first varsity points. Sweetland got the Hornets closer by rebounding her own shot, spinning and scoring.
The Hornets were back to within seven. They stole another ball at midcourt but couldn’t convert it into points.
“Once we settled in, I felt like our press looked good. We created turnovers and offense for ourselves.
At the other end, before the quarter ended, Davis made another shot and Chelsea led 31-20.
Stemmer opened the scoring in the fourth with a pull-up jump shot. Chelsea responded with five straight points. Stemmer closed the scoring by rebounding her own shot.
The Lady Hornets flashed their potential throughout the night. Roehm said her team is committed to reaching that potential.
“We need to believe in ourselves and believe in us. It will come. I know that we’re committed to each other and that’s why I believe it’s going to happen,” Roehm said.
Saline hosts Belleville at 7 p.m. Friday.
Here are your 3 Stars of the Game:
- Asia Lindsey – Played strong defense and helped keep the young Hornets looking poised.
- Ella Stemmer – The first quarter wasn’t kind to Stemmer, playing her first high school basketball game. But by the second half she was one of the best players on the court. She rebounded, played strong defense and led all Hornets with six points.
- Erin Reilly – Scored three points, but gave the Hornets a much needed shot of energy whenever she entered the game. She won battles for loose balls, grabbed rebounds and played tough defense.