The Saline varsity basketball team upped their season record to 13-4 with an impressive 47-37 win over the Hartland Eagles Tuesday night at Saline High School.
Though it was a team victory, it was the play of the Hornets’ “Dynamic Duo”, senior guards Ryan Foley and Jacob Finkbeiner, along with senior guard Justin “Juice” Zylstra who thrilled the crowd with their gutsy performance. With the game on the line, the seniors put on a show in the second half. In those final 16 minutes of play, Finkbeiner, Foley and Juice Zylstra defined what senior leadership means. They defined it for their teammates, for the home crowd, for their coaches and for themselves. They scored 23 of their teams’ 25 second half points to lead the Hornets to victory.
This year’s Hornets’ team defines success by their defensive effort. Tuesday night the team once again held their opponent to under 40 points. Things started slowly for both teams as each team’s defense made driving to the basket difficult. Hartland’s 6’8” senior center Jason Gigliotti was fed the ball by his teammates and he drove to the basket, drawing fouls from Saline forwards Calder Pellerin and Emmett Turner. Both Pellerin and Turner got into foul trouble early. With both players in foul trouble and sitting on the bench in the first quarter, it was sophomore forward Connor Terech turn to help. Terech, affectionately known as the “Junior Beast” on last year’s JV team, responded by scoring six first half points. He opened the scoring in the second quarter and then scored the last two points of the first half. With 24 seconds left in the half, Terech drove to the basket to put the Hornets up 22-18. Junior guard Erik Wenning hit both ends of a 1-on-1 free throw to add to the bench scoring by Saline while their starters were nursing three fouls sitting on the bench.
The Eagles scored the first four points of the second half to tie the score at 22-22. Juice Zylstra converted on one of two free throws to give Saline the lead at 23-22. At the 4:01 mark of the third, Foley drove to the basket to up the lead to 25-22. Zylstra added a three to make it 28-24. The last two minutes of the quarter belonged to the Dynamic Duo. While defending, Foley popped up a Hartland pass, slid by the defender, grabbed the loose ball and dribbled to the basket to score an easy lay-up. Less than a minute later, Finkbeiner pressured the ball, the Eagles tried a desperation pass which was intercepted again by Foley who again drove the length of the court to up Saline’s lead to 32-24 at the end of three quarters of play.
Terech started things off with a three-point shot to up Saline’s lead to 35-24. Hartland responded with a three of their own, only to see Juice Zylstra calmly go down the court and hit another three-pointer. From the 3:30 mark of the fourth quarter, it was the Dynamic Duo’s time to shine. Finkbeiner drove to the basket, made his shot and then converted his free throw to up Saline’s lead to 41-31 with 2:43 left. Foley grabbed a rebound and was fouled. He made one of two free throws, 42-31. The with 1:25 left in the game, Foley inbounded the ball with a full court pass to Finkbeiner who ran to the ball, made the lay-up to give Saline a 44-34 lead. Then while taking time off the clock, Foley was dribbling the ball and was fouled. He converted both free throws, giving Saline a 46-34 lead. Finkbeiner closed out the Hornet scoring by making another free throw with :21 seconds left to provide Saline with the 47-37 win.
“We really got after them early. I thought we had a good defensive effort from the start. Our big guys got into foul trouble early and what a great job Connor Terech did for us. He made some timely shots in the first half and then hit that huge three for us in the fourth quarter,” Saline Head Coach Jacob Fosdick said after the game.
When asked about the play of his senior captains Foley and Finkbeiner, Coach Fosdick smiled and said, “that’s why they are captains. They have been through it before and they know what to do.” Fosdick continued, “I still think they are the best pair of guards in the league.”
Saline travels to Skyline on Friday in a huge SEC Red rematch. Last month the Hornets lost to Skyline 59-48. It was a game in which Saline committed 24 turnovers. Coach Fosdick said a key to beating Skyline will be how they protect the ball. “We are not afraid of any team. We plan to take the attack to them. We know it will be a huge challenge but I think that we are ready for it.” Tip off time is 7pm at Skyline.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Ryan Foley (8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) & Jacob Finkbeiner (11 points, 3 rebounds & 2 assists)
2nd Star: Connor Terech (9 points & 4 rebounds)
3rd Star: Justin “Juice” Zylstra (7 points & 2 rebounds)
JV SQUAD BEATS HARTLAND, UPPS RECORD TO 14-3
Head Coach Jason Pickett praised his team’s effort in their 56-39 thrashing of the Hartland Eagles Tuesday night in Saline. Following the game Coach Pickett praised his teams’ effort. “I thought we came out ready to play and were competitive from the start. We played good team defense and moved the ball around very well tonight. We have players who will pass up a good shot in favor of getting the ball to someone who has an even better shot.”
That was certainly true on the first half as freshman guard Trevor Arico scored 10 of his 12 points by finding the open spot for a close in shot, and converting those shots to give the Hornets a 13-7 first quarter lead, and 30-14 at the half.
“We are an unselfish team and that works really well for us” Pickett said. “It doesn’t matter who is on the court, these players jell whoever they are paired with on the floor.” That team work was certainly on display in the fourth quarter. Hartland would take a shot, Saline would rebound, fire an outlet pass who would pass to another Hornet near mid-court who would then pass to sophomore forward Brad Wisniewski who drove to the basket for a lay-up. Picture perfect perfection. And Wisniewski scored six consecutive points on exactly that play. The junior Hornets get back into action Friday night at Skyline. Game time is 5:30pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Trevor Arico (12 points)
2nd Star: Brad Wisniewski (16 points)
3rd Star: Ethan Friedrichsen (13 points)
FRESHMEN SQUAD DOWNS HARTLAND 49-42
The Saline Hornets freshman basketball team downed the Hartland Eagles 49-42 Tuesday night at Saline High School. The Hornets outscored the Eagles 31-17 in the first and third quarters to seal the victory. The freshmen travel to Skyline on Friday night. Game time is 4:30pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1st Star: Ben Stack (11 points)
2nd Star: Josh Finn (10 points)
3rd Star: Griffin Goetz (6 points)