Article and photos courtesy of MIPrepzone
By Paula Pasche
LAKE ORION — The Waterford Kettering girls basketball team won its first district title under coach Cory Hightower. He could not have been more proud. The Captains defeated Rochester Adams, 69-61, at Lake Orion High School to win the Division 1, District 6 trophy on Friday night.
“I’m super proud to win districts with this group because this group has truly worked hard and treated me with the utmost respect and I appreciate that,’’ said Hightower who is in his first season with the Captains. Now Kettering (16-7) will face Walled Lake Western (22-1) in the regional semifinals at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at White Lake Lakeland.
On a scrappiness scale of one to five, Friday night’s game was a five. “Adams is tough and scrappy, that’s my type of team,’’ Hightower said. “I love that type of grit and grind. They were scrappy tonight, they gave us a hard-fought battle.’’
In the first quarter, Adams (10-12) went on a 15-4 run to take an 18-14 lead. Kettering came back to knot it up at 24-24 with two minutes left in the half, then went on a 7-4 run to take a 31-28 halftime lead. “To be honest, we played a sloppy game,’’ Hightower said noting that just weren’t moving the ball and couldn’t get into sets
Adams’ defense had something to do with that too.
“I wish we had Kettering’s height but we don’t,’’ Adams coach Shay Lewis said. “We have to use our speed, we knew that tonight. We had to use our bigs, our bigs had to come through and rebound for us and they did our job. Our seniors Brianna McKerracher and Gabby Mack came in and rebounded and did a great job. I feel sorry for them I know they wanted to keep playing.’’
The second half was a different story. Kettering went on a 17-3 run early in the third quarter to take a 48-31 lead. “The second half we came back, made adjustments and got into a 22 press. They couldn’t move the ball quite frankly. We started getting turnovers and getting layups,’’ Hightower said.
“I think it was a team effort in the second half. Nobody really stood out today. I think it was a total team effort and that’s how it’s been going all season. One game, Ashley (Watson) will have 12, one game Claire (Barghahn) will have 20, one game she’ll have 2 and somebody else will step up,’’ Hightower said.
On Friday, Watson scored a team-high 17 points while Izzy Dugal added 14 and Barghahn finished with 11.
Adams, which defeated Romeo to make it to the district title game, depended on its four captains. “Amelia Drahnak our junior, Nicole Claerhout our other junior, Maddie Dolenga our sophomore and Lauren Petersmark our other sophomore — those are are four captains.’’ Lewis said. “They carried us tonight, they kept us together tonight, they played their hearts out. And our bench they came in and did their job. I’m just so proud of this team, I’m extremely proud of this team.’’
Lewis said it’s been a roller-coaster season. “We’re so young, a lot of learning, a lot of growth. I feel we peaked in this district tournament which is when we wanted to peak,’’ said Lewis who will lose just two seniors to graduation. “What we did tonight is the culture that I’ve been trying to preach into this program is to work and fight until the very end,’’ Lewis said. “That’s what we did tonight, I couldn’t be more proud.’’