GIRLS BASKETBALL: Stoney Creek gets defensive in district upset of Clarkston |
BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Twice this season, Rochester Stoney Creek threw its best punch at Clarkston only to see the Wolves rally in the end.
The third time was more than a charm, but a true knockout blow.
Stoney Creek, making its fifth straight appearance in the Class A district finals, toppled host Clarkston, ranked in the top 20 all season, 47-37, to claim its second district in three years.
Clarkston had defeated Stoney Creek twice in two close affairs in OAA Red Division play.
“Our defense was great against Clarkston,” admitted Stoney Creek coach Brad Crighton. “This is by far my best defensive team. We had a game plan, and we came out and executed it. I’m so proud of our effort tonight.”
Clarkston had finished first or second in the OAA-Red the last four years and had also claimed four straight district crowns before Friday’s upset.
“It’s nice to get the win against Clarkston,” smiled Crighton. “We had the lead at the half in both of the regular season games with them, but we came out in the third and didn’t let up. This was a great win for us — a great team win.”
After watching Clarkston 6-foot junior Erika Davenport dominate teams all season and watching the Wolves’ star score 48 points in a overtime win Monday over Rochester Adams, Crighton threw his team’s best defense at Clarkston.
“We were going to put one and sometimes two players on her at one time,” said Crighton. “We were going to force them to kick it back out and shoot. We were going to live and die by that.”
Stoney Creek’s defensive plan worked. The Cougars (17-6), who have only lost to teams in the Class A top 20, denied Davenport the ball for long stretches of the game and the Wolves only hit a trio of three-pointers on the night. Stoney Creek led 11-7 at the end of the first quarter and 13-8 at the half, allowing Clarkston to score just one late free throw in the second quarter.
Stoney Creek continued to hold firm with a 10-8 edge in the third frame, good for a 23-16 advantage heading into the fourth stanza.
The Cougars outscored Clarkston 24-21 in the fourth quarter, hitting 16-of-21 free throws in the final 3:45 of the contest to keep the Wolves at bay.
Clarkston (18-5) pulled to within 40-36 as part of a 10-3 run, capped by a three-pointer by Ashley Skaggs with 1:45 left. That was as close as Clarkston would get down the stretch. Stoney Creek answered with a 7-1 game-closing spurt to see the deal.
Junior guard Maria Zandi had a fine all a-round floor game for Stoney Creek, which
finished 25-for-35 from the charity stripe for the game. Zandi had a game-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Senior center Lauren Voss added 11 points and four rebounds and senior forward Karlee Campbell had 13 points and seven rebounds and more importantly, drew the assignment of guarding Davenport in the post.
Davenport was held in modest check with 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for Clarkston, while senior sniper Kacy Robinson was also held to 11 points and Skaggs had six points for the Wolves.
“We just had to play as a team tonight,” smiled Zandi. “We knew what we had to do (guarding Davenport), and it was just a matter of coming out focused. We knew she was the only one who would score, and we just collapsed on her every time she got the ball. We couldn’t let her take over.”
Clarkston lost three of its final six games to exit the state tournament prematurely.
“Give all the credit to Stoney Creek,” sighed Clarkston coach Tim Wasilk. “They came out with a great game plan and executed it. They were the better team tonight.
“(Clarkston’s) defense was solid tonight, continued Wasilk. “We didn’t help ourselves out by hitting shots, but we couldn’t get into a flow tonight.”
Stoney Creek will face Waterford Kettering in Tuesday’s Class A regional semifinals at Lake Orion.