BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
The season came to a heartbreaking end as the Clarkston Girls Varsity Basketball lost their game to Saginaw Heritage in the quarterfinals, 70-25, on March 13.
“Losing anything, by one, by however many is going to be painful because that’s the end of your season,” said Christine Rogers, head coach. “We are choosing to remember how great the season really was. We are regional champs – we made it to the Elite Eight.”
Clarkston scored within the first 20 seconds with a basket from Kayla Luchenbach off a pass from Taylor Heaton.
The Hawks’ Shrine Strickland-Gills tied the score 26 seconds later, starting a 14-point run. They finished the first quarter with a 18-7 lead after Molly Nicholson had scored four points and Luchenbach scored one from the free throw line to help boost Clarkston.
“It was an off night shooting,” added Rogers, as in the first half Luchenbach scored seven points, Nicholson had six points, and Heaton and Maddie Beck had three points each.
“Molly and Kayla, inside, were hitting their shots better,” she said. “Our outside shots just weren’t falling. You have those night and unfortunately it happened tonight. Our shooters had the confidence to keep shooting and continued taking their shots. They didn’t give up. They kept fighting.”
During the second half, the Wolves scored six points with four from Luchenbach and two from Nicholson.
Rogers added they expected Saginaw Heritage to be able to hit a lot of field goals, work the floor and capitalize on turnovers.
“They are a very good team and we expect them to make a run for the title because they are that good,” she said about the Hawks, which finished as state champions in Class A with a 57-36 win over East Lansing on Saturday. “They are balanced. They are disciplined. They play at a high level. They moved the ball pretty quickly and it was always half a step ahead of us tonight which I didn’t expect. I expected our defense to be like it has the last couple of weeks.”
The Wolves (20-5) finished the season as co-champions of the OAA Red, district champions and regional champions.
“This was a very tight team,” said Rogers. “One of the best teams I have coached. They get along and support each other. They will look back on their successes – we beat Waterford Kettering, we beat Marian, we shutdown Holly. We have had incredible successes. It’s just too bad it had to end this way.”
The Clarkston Girls Varsity Basketball team returns freshmen Sam Aris, Piper Bosart, Kaelyn Kaul, Olivia Toderan; sophomores Taylor Heaton and Lexi Linton.
Rogers added making it to the Elite Eight will help them for the next coming seasons.
“It will give them good experience in high pressure games,” she said. “This is what they know. They will expect to go into the post season, to make a run at it. They are going to expect to work hard and expect to be here every year.”
The Wolves graduate seven seniors Beck, Luchenbach, Nicholson, Kiana Ayotte, Ali Buscher, Kelly Cousino and Meg Seilaff.
“They are an amazing group of girls,” Rogers said. “They have worked so incredibly hard to develop their own skills and bring along our younger girls. This was heartbreaking to see them end this way. Maddie and Kayla will go on and have incredible college careers. My other seniors are going on to be just amazing people in whatever they decide to pursue. They gave the young girls an excellent chance to see their role models how hard they work. These seniors have set a legacy the younger girls coming up will expect to work hard, expect to be successful and have bright futures of their own.”