Saline came out on the short end of a hard fought battle with Pioneer as the SEC Red Rivals squared off at Saline High School Friday.
Pioneer outscored Saline 12-7 in the fourth quarter to beat Saline 42-39.
Saline fell to 7-7 overall.
Saline led for much of the game. The Hornets led 37-32 after Liz Sererak’s basket early in the fourth. But Pioneer responded with six straight points as the Hornet shooters went cold.
Kelsey Alexander made both ends of a one-and-on with 2:32 to play but Pioneer’s Corrine Burgard replied with a basket to put the Pioneer’s back up.
Saline had two shots at the basket on its next possession but Pioneer turned it up the floor and Asaria Turman (12 points and a big night on the boards) was fouled. She made a free throw to make it 41-39.
Saline missed two free throws at the other end but got another chance when Pioneer failed to convert from the free throw line. But with 9.3 seconds left, the Hornets were called for a three second violation.
Pioneer got the ball back and Whitney Gallagher was fouled with 5.7 seconds left. She went 1-for-2 from the line. Brooke Bauer rebounded the second shot and then rushed up the floor and fired a long, potentially game-tying shot that glanced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“I’m so proud of our girls. We battled so hard tonight,” Saline coach Leigh Ann Roehm said. “Our girls played aggressively, they worked hard, they played tough defense, the battled for every rebound. But it just didn’t go our way. We’ll be back in practice working hard to improve.”
Freshman Ella Stemmer continued her strong play with 15 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
Brooke Bauer and Liz Sekerak each had six points. Nicole Sweetland and Erin Reilly scored four points each. Kelsey Alexander and Maddy Welch each scored two points.
Pioneer jumped out to a 4-0 lead as the Hornet shooters were cold to start the game. Saline built confidence at the free throw line. Stemmer, Reilly and then Stemmer again each went 2-for-2 from the line to put Saline up 6-4. After Pioneer went up 7-6, Sekerak made two baskets to give Saline a 10-7 lead. Reilly sent Sekerak in on the first basket and Stemmer passed to her on the second.
Bauer opened scoring in the second quarter with a spin-around layup to make it 12-7. After a basket by Turman, the Pioneers fouled Welch. She went 2-for-2 and Saline led 14-9. Pioneer replied with a basket and went back on the attack, but Stemmer stole a ball and raced in for an uncontested layup, giving Saline a 16-11 lead.
Pioneer wouldn’t go away. They made two shots to make it a one-point game. Stemmer made another layup – this one a pretty move along the baseline -- to make it 18-15. Turman made a free throw to cut into Saline’s lead before the buzzer. Saline led 18-16 at halftime.
Bauer started the third quarter the way she started the second, with a strong move to the basket for two. But this time Pioneer responded with six straight points to take the lead 22-20. Turman took her third foul and went to the bench. Saline took advantage of the situation. Stemmer made a layup and after Pioneer was called for a charge, Saline went down the court and Stemmer drained a 12-footer. The Hornets got the ball back and Sweetland sank a three pointer from in front of the Hornet bench.
But again, Pioneer battled back with two straight baskets.
Reilly, who played aggressive defense whenever she was in the game, forced a turnover, grabbed the loose ball at midcourt and raced in for two points for a 29-26 lead. After a Pioneer free throw basket, Stemmer scored again. She was fouled on her way to the basket and then made her free throw. Saline led 32-27. But late in the quarter Pioneer intercepted a Saline pass and Gallagher hit a three-pointer to make it 32-30.
Up until this point in the game, Saline was 9-fo-9 from the free throw line. Pioneer was 5-for-10. Saline used its free throw prowess as an equalizer against a Pioneer team that, thanks to Turman, had a significant advantage on the boards. But after stellar shooting through three quarters, Saline’s shooters came back to earth in the fourth quarter, going 3-for-7. Roehm credited Bauer and Leeya Lawson for the work they did to minimize Turnman's size and strength advantage.
Saline visits Novi Tuesday. Tip off is at 5:30 p.m.
The Saline Post Stars
- Ella Stemmer – Game in, game out, Stemmer leads the Saline offense. She’s also getting stronger as a rebounder and tougher defensively.
- Liz Sekerak – Sekerak showed good quickness taking the ball to the hoop. She had six points and easily could have had 10 points despite limited minutes in one of her strongest outings of the season.
- Erin Reilly – Scored four points. Was disruptive on defense and quick and aggressive on battles for rebounds and loose balls.