In Play with Tom Markowski

Marian makes 15 free throws in the fourth, holds off Kettering, 51-42, faces King in semifinals next.

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

 

St. Clair Shores – There are many ways for one to keep one’s composure.

One way is to count one’s breath. It works for Samantha Thomas. Her sister, Bailey, isn’t sold on that method.

Top-ranked Birmingham Marian was 15-for-18 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and the Mustangs held off a young but gritty Waterford Kettering team 51-42 in a Class A quarterfinal on Tuesday at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

Marian’s victory sets up a rematch with No. 4-ranked Detroit King (24-1) on Friday in a semifinal at the Breslin Center at 2:50 p.m.

Marian (24-1) defeated King 50-49 in Operation Friendship on Feb. 26.

Marian controlled the first half and led 28-14. Its half-court trap gave the Captains fits and as they committed 15 turnovers.

“We just got after it,” Marian coach Mary Cicerone said. “We had some breakdowns. Then we went to a full-court press and did a good job. Then they went to (Haley Tewes) down the court to beat it with the long pass.”

 Jaeda Robinson’s 3-pointer with 4:42 left in the third quarter gave Marian its largest lead, 35-18.

It was also the last basket the Mustangs would score. The Mustangs made one free throw the rest of the quarter and missed five.

It was Kettering in the last four minutes that turned up the pressure. The Captains forced five turnovers in the third and ended the quarter on an 11-0 run to pull within 36-30. Tewes’ 3-pointer with eight seconds left closed out the scoring in the third.

“They got a little tougher and made sharper cuts in that second half,” Kettering coach Scott Woodhull said of his team. “All year we found ways to make things happen. In the first half we played fast and did things we normally don’t do.”

Tewes’ sister, Lauran, who led her team with 15 points, made a basket with 3:52 left to narrow the deficit to 38-34. Then Marian made five three throws, three by Bailey Thomas and tow by her sister, to push the lead to nine.

Twice Kettering got within six, 48-42, the last time on Haley Tewes’ 3-pointer, with 36 seconds left.

Samantha Thomas (12 points) made three free throws in the final 24 seconds to ice it.

Inconsistency marked Marian’s free throw shooting. It missed its first four, the first two by Samantha, made its next four and finished 21-of-34 (61.7 percent).

Samantha Thomas was 7-of-10 from the line, Bailey, who led Marian with 14 points, was 10-of-12.

“We were playing scared in the second half,” Bailey said. “We were playing tentative.

“All those free throws shows we were attacking. I just try to block everything out (at the line). Ice in the veins.”

Samantha’s technique is a little different.

“I usually count my breaths before I shoot,” she said. “My dad told me that. Dribble, then count one, two, three.”

Whatever works.