In Play with Tom Markowski

Harrison forces 25 turnovers, Stephens scores 17 as Hawks hand Clarkston its first loss, 54-45

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

 

 

Clarkston – Christine Rogers experienced more than the usual amount of success for a rookie head coach in Clarkston’s first nine games. Her team was ranked No. 10 in Class A according to State Champs and sat atop the standings in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division with Farmington Hill Harrison and Southfield-Lathrup at 2-0 before Friday’s game at Clarkston.

Now Williams can add another factoid to her resume; a loss.

“Losing sucks,” Williams said.

That it does. And some losses are worse than others. This was one of those.

Harrison (9-1) exposed a Clarkston weakness forcing 25 turnovers as the Hawks ran past Clarkston 54-45 to keep pace with Southfield-Lathrup.

Amber Stephens caused much of the confusion and miscommunication on the part of Clarkston as she had six steals and turned many of those thefts into layups. The senior scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half as Harrison took a 31-25 lead after 16 minutes.

“I really like playing defense,” Stephens said. “I could really see where they were trying to throw the ball. We’re all playing well defensively. That’s what wins games. We were focusing on their big girls. As soon as (they) would get it inside (they) were looking around to pass it.”

Harrison doesn’t have a center. To make the task even more challenging, one of its starters, 5-8 forward Imari Williams, missed her second consecutive game after suffering a separated shoulder.

No matter. The Hawks applied pressure the entire game placing Clarkston (9-1) on the defensive.

A Maddie Beck free throw gave the wolves a 21-19 lead with 2:58 left in the first half when Harrison made its move. Nyla Warren’s 3-pointer gave the Hawks the lead for good 23 seconds later. Consecutive Clarkston turnovers led to easy baskets, one by Teddi Pickens and the other by Kristen Nelson, for a 26-21 Harrison lead.

Stephens made three throws in the last 30 seconds to give the Hawks their six-point cushion.

Clarkston turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the second half and Harrison took a 38-25 lead on two baskets by Pickens and Nelson’s 3-pointer.

Clarkston never got closer than nine points.

Nelson added 14 points, three below her average, seven rebounds and two blocks. Pickens had 13 points and Stephens had seven rebounds.

“Amber anticipates like no other,” Harrison first-year coach Allen Walker said. “She’s a team player. (Nelson and Stephens) know each other so well. They feed off each other. We definitely played our style of play tonight. We had some turnovers happen against (Rochester Hills) Stoney Creek in our last game. We addressed that in practice.”

Harrison had just eight turnovers against Clarkston.

Kayla Luchenbach, a 6-1 sophomore, led Clarkston with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Alyssa Bey added 10 points and eight rebounds.

“Our turnovers showed our inexperience under pressure,” Rogers said. There were some unforced turnovers, too. We have some inexperience at the guard spot. We hadn’t faced athleticism and pressure like that. Now they know. We’re going to see that against Lathrup, too.”