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Salem knocks off previously undefeated Waterford Kettering while honoring former coach's legacy

Basketball   | Ben Szilagy

Salem knocks off previously undefeated Waterford Kettering while honoring former coach's legacy

Plymouth — Adversity can take many forms like an undefeated team, a hard pre-season schedule, or even a legendary coach’s death.

Last season, Salem lost its coach of 40 years in Fred Thomann when he died suddenly on Dec 28, 2013 in his home after a heart procedure at the age of 71.

Salem coach Lindsay Klemmer stuck with the program and became the head coach because of not only her bond with Thomann as a player, but as a mentor as well.

“We had so much invested in each other that I wanted to come back,” she said. “These kid have worked so hard to get here. I had nothing but faith in them, even when we lost those games early. That type of adversity will make anyone mentally tough, and that was difference tonight.

“We dedicated this whole season to him, and we talk about him all the time. This one was for Fred.”

On Thursday Salem (16-4) upset the No. 3 ranked team in Class A, Waterford Kettering (19-1), in double overtime 47-40, in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship game but getting there took swift reflexes by one of its six seniors.

With less than five seconds remaining in the first overtime Rocks senior Jamyra Wilson pushed the ball up the floor trailing by two. She hurled a shot from half court that missed the mark, but fell into the waiting hands of fellow senior Shara Long who made a quick game-tying basket at the buzzer to send the game to another overtime.

“Fred taught me how to play the game, and a love for the game. When he was around, I didn’t utilize him to his full potential. But he always believed in me, and it motivated me,” Long said. “I want my teammates to depend on me. Moments like that is where I get to prove that."

Clutch defense and key free throws sealed the game late for the Rocks.

It's Salem’s first KLAA Championship since 2009.

Long, who finished the game with 24 points and seven rebounds, was given the green light after the Captains had built an 8-2 lead. Three first half three’s by Long helped spark the Rocks to take their first lead at the half, 19-17.

“That helped us a lot. She knows she can shoot the ball in our offense. She’s our glue and our mold. She filled a big presence down low, and it led to a big night for her and us,” Klemmer said.

Kettering proved resilient and were able to regain the lead.

Junior forward Haley Tewes erupted for seven points in the third quarter after a quiet first half to give the Captains a 28-23 lead entering the fourth quarter. The junior was called upon again late when Kettering was down four points with 23.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Tewes (team high 17 points) hit a big shot in the lane, and capitalized off a late missed free throw to get an opportunity at the line, when she was fouled trying to make the game tying shot. She hit both free throws with less than a second left for a 38-38 tie.

The Captains also received 10 points from sophomore Lillia Schoof, and eight points from senior Lauren Tewes.

Salem received 11 points from senior Jamyra Wilson, and fellow senior Hayley Rogers kept Kettering at bay at the line late with three points on foul shots.

“Hard work goes such a long way,” Klemmer said. “We’re not the most skilled or the most talented, but we work our tails off. And our seniors proved that they count on each other when nobody else will. Fred would be proud of his girls.”