Cagers earn spot on Elite Eight

Clarkston News Sports Writer
The seniors walked off of the basketball court at West Bloomfield last Thursday. The MHSAA Class A Girls Basketball Regional final wasn’t over but they knew they had joined the Elite Eight and were heading to the quarterfinals.
The 50-33 win over Waterford Kettering for the regional crown was a sweet victory for the Clarkston Girls Varsity Basketball as the Captains had knocked them out of districts the last two years.
“We were ready to play,” said Christine Rogers, head coach. “We had a good game plan, and the girls came out and made it happen. Kayla Luchenbach and Maddie Beck especially couldn’t wait to beat Kettering. They played every minute they had on the floor like they wanted to stomp them into the ground.”
The Wolves finished the first half with a 30-18 lead on Kettering, which Luchenbach aided with 15 points during the first two stanzas. They scored ten more points during the third quarter and held their opponents to nine. The Captains fought back and closed the gap to 40-31 with seven minutes left in the game.

Kiana Ayotte blocks a pass. Photo by Larry Wright

Beck scored off a free throw and a field goal and with a basket from senior Molly Nicholson, the girls kept Kettering at bay.
Luchenbach led the team, scoring 23 points with five rebounds, five blocks and went 7-for-8 on the free throw line.
“Kayla had a fantastic game for stats,” Rogers added. “Her line was great. No one could stop her. She just decided this was going to be her game and she carried her team. It was fun to watch.”
Beck scored 12 points with five rebounds and five steals and Molly Nicholson had 11 points and went 5-for-5 on the free throw line.
The Wolves defeated Marian in the regional semifinals on March 6, 44-34. Beck led with 21 points, seven rebounds and six steals. Luchenbach scored ten points and five blocks, and Nicholson had nine points, six rebounds and four steals.
“Again we executed our game plan and held a pretty good shooter in Olivia Moore to very few points,” Rogers said. “Marian just couldn’t handle our pressure. We attacked and used our strength against them.”
It’s the third regional title for the Clarkston Girls Basketball program. They won it in 1975 and in 2006.
“It feels pretty good especially to beat Kettering who had knocked us out the last two years,” Rogers said. “I was very pleased with how they played and the outcome from the beginning. We never had any doubt we were the better team and we could win the regional title.”
She added it was great to watch the seniors help the team win the regional title.
“They are a special group of girls and to see how bad they want it really sets the tone for the future of this program because they are demanding,” she said. “We have success by how they play. It’s just going to teach the underclassmen that this is how we play and this is what we do every year.”
The Wolves (20-4) played Saginaw Heritage on Tuesday in the quarterfinals, occurring after time of press.
Rogers added the momentum will help the team especially with confidence.
“Saginaw is a very good team, and we will have to play very well to beat them,” she said. “The girls realize when we are playing well and taking care of the ball and attacking the basket few teams can stop us.”
The winner moves on to the semifinals on Friday at 12 p.m. The state championship game is on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. Both games are held at Van Noord Arena, Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

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