BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
The Wolves open the new year with hopes of bouncing back from their loss against Southfield.
The Clarkston Girls Varsity Basketball team headed into holiday break with a close 60-54 loss against foes Southfield Arts & Technology, Dec. 20.
“It’s never good going into break with a loss,” said John Weyer, head coach, adding hopefully the loss will help and show where the team needs to improve. “We are going to study this game and the second half and see where we need to improve. We know the boards situation. We need to get on the board. We are small and there’s a lot of taller girls in the league, there are a lot of taller girls in the state. We are just going to have to outwork them on the boards and that is a choice we are going to have to make.”
It was a back and forth battle in the first quarter and Southfield grabbed 5-point lead before the half way mark.
Sophomore Madison Skorupski closed the gap with a basket with an assist from sophomore Izzy Hadley.
A three-pointer from junior Kaelyn Kaul tied the score with 2:22 left in the quarter, 13-13.
Warrior Cheyenne McEvans scored a basket seconds later to put Southfield back into the lead.
The Wolves scored eight points with senior Taylor Heaton and Kaul both scoring a 3-pointer and Skorupski sinking both of her free throw attempts, putting the score 21-15.
The Wolves held the lead throughout the second quarter, even with moments it was only a 2-point lead.
With 97 seconds remaining in the first half, Southfield put three points on the board off a basket and a free throw shot to cut Clarkston’s lead to 27-26.
Heaton scored two on the free throw line and Skorupski scored on a 3-point attempt as teammates counted down the seconds to the buzzer.
“I see the gap closing,” Weyer said, comparing this season’ game against Southfield from last season. “We have all of our players, and they lost some of their players. I see our girls getting better. Taylor’s leadership as a senior is awesome, but everybody else is young. We will learn – that’s the lesson of today is we are going to learn and we are going to do better.”
The Wolves continued to hold onto the lead throughout the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth. Then, halfway through the last quarter, Southfield closed in and tied the scored 49-49 with a basket from McEvans and two free throw shots.
The Warriors put themselves into the leadoff a basket and continued to hold onto it. As the Wolves fought to get the lead back, they found themselves in foul trouble. McEvans was sent to the free throw line five times and teammate Kaylona Willis once. Kaul was taken out of the game after her fifth foul.
“Kaelyn had one foul going into those last three minutes,” said Weyer. “For her to manguard Cheyenne, pull out one foul in the whole game and limit her the whole game was amazing. She did the same thing at Stoney Creek. She is doing for us defensively what is more important than scoring 20 points a game. She is the best defensive player in the county. I will put her up against anyone.”
Skorupski led with 18 points with one 3-pointer and had seven rebounds, seven assists, five steals and one block. Heaton scored ten points. Junior Morgan Hunter had nine points and nine rebounds. Junior Olivia Toderan also had nine points and one field goal. Kaul scored eight points which included two 3-pointers.
The Wolves posted their first win in the OAA Red with a 54-39 win over Stoney Creek on Dec. 17. Heaton led with 15 points and Hadley had ten points.
“Stoney Creek always plays everybody tough,” said Weyer going into the game. “Up in the OAA Red there are no nights off.”
The Wolves hit one of their goals by posting a 76-39 win over Waterford Kettering, after the Captains knocked them out of district playoffs last season.
“It was certainly a day we circled on our calendar,” said Weyer, adding they had prepared and broke down what Kettering does on the court. “The girls execution was amazing. They played really well. Morgan and Taylor put a full game together in one half against Kettering. Mo is just continuing to be a beast. She works so hard.”
Hunter and Heaton led with 13 points each.
Weyer added every player had at least one rebound.
“It doesn’t happen very often but it shows it’s one of our focus points – getting rebounds, boxing out, is getting to work for us,” he said. “We aren’t the tallest team in the world so we have to work hard to get those boards.”
The Wolves also defeated Notre Dame Prep, 59-42, on Dec. 10. Heaton led with 20 points, six rebounds and four steals.
“We came out of the gate working really hard,” said Weyer. “They played well together.”
He added Toderan stood out during the game.
“She ran the floor really well,” Weyer said. “She was able to pick up on what they were doing defensively and communicated really well. What she does doesn’t always show up in the stat book. She is so important to have out there – she is my eyes and ears out there for me as a point guard.”
The Wolves (5-2) return from holiday break with a game at West Bloomfield on Thursday, Jan. 9. They host Groves on Tuesday, Jan. 14. JV plays at 5:30 p.m., varsity follows.