Lady Eagles’ pressure sinks Vikings’ ship
HOMER — Schoolcraft’s girls’ basketball team was far from perfect Thursday.
But Doug Flynn’s Lady Eagles were sharp enough when it counted.
Schoolcraft overcame a 10-point deficit after three quarters and stormed back to hand Bronson a 39-32 loss in the Class C regional championship at Homer.
The win improves Schoolcraft to 20-5 and sends the Lady Eagles into Tuesday’s state quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m. against Pewamo-Westphalia (22-2) at Portage Northern.
It’s the first ever regional championship in girls’ basketball for Schoolcraft.
“It’s a testament of what these girls have done all year. They battle and work extremely hard. Things weren’t going too well for us early and Bronson had a lot to do with that,” Flynn said.
“We made some big plays on the defensive end and made some baskets. Sometimes basketball is about momentum. When it shifted in the fourth quarter it was a good thing for us and we made some free throws down the stretch and got the job done. It wasn’t the prettiest game but we’ll take it.”
Schoolcraft trailed Bronson 29-19 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Eagles used its defensive pressure to force Bronson into careless turnovers at inopportune times during the fourth quarter.
Schoolcraft managed to tie the game at 30-30 with just over five minutes remaining.
Amber Overley’s putback, Gabi Saxman’s mid-range jumper, Kennedy Leighton’s three pointer and back-to-back layups by Lydia Goble keyed the Lady Eagles’ quick spurt.
Payton Robinson’s free throw put Bronson back on top 31-30 with 4:57 left.
Wynn Stitt, senior postplayer, scored from underneath to give the Eagles a 32-31 advantage with 4:40 left.
Kiera Lasky’s free throw for Bronson tied the game up at 32-32.
Leighton’s triple with 3:34 left gave Schoolcraft at 35-32 lead.
Saxman made four consecutive free throws in the final 50 seconds to seal the win for Schoolcraft.
Bronson built an early 7-3 lead in the opening period.
Stitt’s two free throws near the end of the period cut the Eagles’ deficit to two, 7-5 entering the second quarter.
Goble scored from inside to knot the score at 7-7 moments into the second quarter.
Bronson grabbed a 10-7 edge on Lasky’s three-pointer. Adrienne Rosey’s jumper extended the Vikings’ lead to 12-7.
Saxman’s free throw lessened the Eagles’ deficit to four, 12-8.
Bronson went on a 5-0 run to build its lead to nine, 17-8. Robinson’s layup and Adyson Lasky’s triple keyed that run.
Leighton nailed a triple to cut Schoolcraft’s deficit to six, 17-11.
Bronson grabbed a 19-11 lead heading into halftime on Ashton Wronikowski’s bucket underneath.
“Bronson knocked down some early shots and they were in a zone defense and spread us out quite a bit. We had some good shots and open looks, but we just didn’t knock them down. Our pressure defense ignited our offense tonight,” Flynn said.
“Girls for us like Lydia Goble, Kennedy, Gabi and Amber Overley are such blue-collar hard working kids. They just never give up and give everything they’ve got.”
Saxman and Goble each finished with 12 points to lead Schoolcraft. Leighton added nine, Stitt four and Overley had two points for the Lady Eagles.
Bronson was led in scoring by Kiera Lasky with eight while Robinson added seven, Adyson Lasky and Kiara Mayer six each and Wronikowski had four.
“Our girls panicked and didn’t execute in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Schoolcraft could have folded when they were down by 10 in the third quarter but they came at us,” said Bronson coach Tony Lasky.
“We have to work on our ballhandling skills and be more efficient on the offensive end. I will take our defense any day because we lock down on people well.”
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.