BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Lady Cagers walked off the court one last time as they finished the season in the MHSAA Girls Basketball district final with a 44-31 loss to Waterford Kettering last Friday.
“We came up against a very good Kettering team,” said Christine Rogers, head coach. “We didn’t have it that night.”
Kettering opened with the lead, scoring five points before the Lady Wolves got on the board three minutes in with a basket from junior Molly Nicholson.
Seconds later junior Maddie Beck closed the gap as she scored one point on the free throw line.
She then stole the ball from the Lady Captains’ possession, leading to a basket from junior Kayla Luchenbach to tie the score at five points.
Kettering scored three points before junior Kiana Ayotte scored with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter, 7-8.
The Lady Wolves opened the next quarter with two points from Beck off senior Kristen Page’s rebound.
Both teams battled foul trouble sending players to the line, each to tie the score until Kettering pulled into the lead with four points.
Beck closed in, scoring on a 3-pointer with 13 seconds in the first half before Kettering scored to keep the lead and end the first half, 17-14.
“Kiana continued to handle the pressure and Molly and Kayla were going against girls as big as them underneath,” Rogers said. “Maddie continued to take opportunities to go to the hoop. It was just the little things like boxing out and where we were are where we had a few letdowns.”
The Lady Captains opened the second half with a 11-0 run to build onto their lead.
Beck led with 17 points during the game.
The Lady Wolves won the second round of district playoffs with a 36-30 win over Oxford, March 1. Beck led with 14 points and freshman Taylor Heaton scored ten points.
“It was an excellent opportunity,” Rogers said about districts. “We played two early round games and they did pretty well.”
The Lady Wolves finished the season with a 17-6 record.
“It was a great experience,” Rogers said about the season. “We played a tougher schedule than we did last year. They saw some pretty good competition. They grew as a team. We had players like Kiana develop a real presence on the court. Maddie came out of nowhere to lead our team. She averaged 18 points a game. Kayla had another solid season, averaging 16 points a game. Molly was the player we hoped she would be. Going forward we have a lot to build on.”
She added the tough season ending will help the returners for next year.
“They are going to realize we missed a chance to move on and it’s going to make them hungrier for next year,” Rogers said. “We aren’t just hoping to do okay in districts. We want to win districts and they will be seniors, and it will be their last chance.”
The team said goodbye to their three seniors Page, Mary McKillop and Nora Storey.
“It was tough to say goodbye,” said Rogers. “Mary gave us some good minutes on Friday night. We got into some foul trouble and Kristen tried to play through her knee injury. Nora continued to keep challenging her team to do better and to rise to the challenge.”
(For more about the seniors, please check out “Athletes of the Week: Leaders on the court” in the Feb. 23 edition of The Clarkston News for more about the senior players.)