Skyline coach sounds off on refs plus more prep basketball notes and leaders
After another loss and another large foul discrepancy, Skyline High School girls basketball coach Keith Wade is done staying silent.
AnnArbor.com file photo
Following his team’s 59-49 loss at Pioneer Tuesday night, in which Skyline was whistled for 24 fouls compared to Pioneer’s 14, Wade spoke his mind.
“I’ve taken the politically correct way to answer these questions for the last eight games, and I’m done biting my tongue,” Wade said Tuesday night. “I don’t get how every game we play it’s a 10 to 15 foul difference.”
In Tuesday’s loss, Pioneer was 20-of-29 from the free-throw line, while Skyline was 5-for-10.
The Skyline girls routinely use a press defense that leads to plenty of fouls away from the hoop. But according to Wade, those fouls aren’t called evenly through the Southeastern Conference.
“I don’t know if it’s our conference, and Huron has built up enough reputation and they’re supposedly this great defensive team so they can get away with calls,” Wade said. “They don’t let our guards play at all, and it’s not fair to our girls.”
Huron didn't get away with much when it played at Pioneer either, though. When the teams met on Jan. 17, Huron had just seven free throw attempts (all by Ariel Bethea), compared to Pioneer's 25. Huron won the game 60-37.
Besides the foul disparity, there was one other surprising statistic Tuesday night: Skyline got only four points from its starting five.
But that’s because its starters weren’t its normal starters.
“We’ve been having some issues with effort in practice and spurts of games,” Wade said. “We just kind of told them they had a practice at two and a warm-up to show us who wanted to start. And the girls that started were girls who’ve been working hard and trying to get better.”
Keep the champagne corked
Lincoln coach Rich Marion was excited with what he saw on Tuesday in his team’s 48-46 win over Dexter.
He had his senior point guard step up as a leader and finisher when Tyler Hinton asked for the final shot when his number wasn’t called and delivered with a game-winner.
In addition to Hinton’s “Hoosiers” moment the Railsplitters created turnovers with high-pressure defense and won as tight of a game as possible in what has been an up-and-down season for the .500 club.
Marion was pleased, but not ready to congratulate his team just yet.
“It’s a great win morale wise, to win in that fashion. Are we over the hump? Not yet,” Marion said. “It’s great for chemistry I think it’s great for attitude and I think it’s great for everything. Does it put us over the hump? Not necessarily.”
Gryphons high scorers
The Greenhills boys and girls basketball teams both have star players who can score with anyone in the county.
AnnArbor.com file photo
But both teams have excelled in part by learning not to rely on their stars.
Senior forward Jackie Oestreich averages 25.3 points per game for the Greenhills girls, first in the area by more than 10 points.
Senior guard Andrew Khouri averages 21.1 points for the boys team, second in the county. Khouri was the area’s leading scorer as a junior last year, and is 54 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
Both have helped their squads to strong second halves of the season. The Gryphons boys have won 10 straight, and have just one blemish on their season record. The Greenhills girls, after a 2-4 start, reeled off four straight in January and now stand at 6-6.
The boys team in particular, though, has had to learn about life without their leading scorer. Khouri has missed six of his team’s games with a stress fracture in his lower back.
Yet Greenhills won all six, thanks to a cast that includes 10 players with varsity experience coming into the season.
“Just having that chance to have two years with a group of guys...it’s just the amount of confidence everyone had,” Greenhills coach Andrew Wright said.
Now, with Khouri back, the team is still on a roll. He’s played in the team’s last four games after a two-game absence. After going for five points in that first game, he scored 17, then 23 Friday and 26 Tuesday.
The injury, Wright said, limited Khouri’s lift and altered his jumpshot. But those effects have since subsided.
“He’s kind of been back to the norm the last two games,” Wright said Monday.
The girls team has had Oestreich for the entire season, but even with her putting up big numbers, the start was slow. Rachel Cortis, the team’s first-year coach, attributes that in part to a coaching transition.
But when her team scored a key win over Novi Franklin Road Christian in overtime in December, Hajra Bhurja made a shot to send the game into overtime and Elisia Ceballo-Countryman hit a late 3 to win the game.
“I think that’s when it started to click for them that Jackie doesn’t have to do everything,” Cortis said. “Ever since then they’ve been playing a lot better as a team, and our scoring’s been much more evenly distributed. "
And even through some ups and downs, Oestreich has put up big numbers. Her season-high for points is 42, and she’s scored 30 or more three other times. She’s also had double-digit rebounds seven times.
“She’s doing a really good job of keeping calm, and when she gets the ball in the post not just turning around and shooting but feeling her defender out and making a good move,” Cortis said.
Area scoring leaders
|Jason Houle, Gabriel Richard||12||276||23.0|
|Andrew Khouri, Greenhills||7||148||21.1|
|Mathias Donat, Washtenaw Christian||10||183||18.3|
|C.J. Turnage, Milan||12||211||17.6|
|Daquanta Brown, Willow Run||9||154||17.1|
|Jibreel Hussein, Pioneer||12||198||16.5|
|Reece Dils, Saline||12||185||15.4|
|Kamari Davis, Gabriel Richard||11||166||15.1|
|Latin Davis, Milan||11||160||14.5|
|Derek Seidl, Dexter||11||159||14.5|
|Jackie Oestreich, Greenhills||12||303||25.3|
|Desiree Cougill, Pioneer||11||164||14.9|
|McKenna Erkfritz, Manchester||14||206||14.7|
|Riley Singleton, Chelsea||13||174||13.4|
|Taylor Manders, Manchester||14||185||13.2|
|Jasmine Jones, Ypsilanti||13||169||13.0|
|Jennifer Fichera, Pioneer||13||165||12.7|
|Arie Cargor, Lincoln||14||176||12.6|
|Zakiya Wells, Arbor Prep||12||148||12.3|
|Dominique Foley, Lincoln||13||160||12.3|
Richard students ready to battle
While the Father Gabriel Richard boys team competes against Madison Heights Bishop Foley at home Tuesday, its student section will be competing as well.
Representatives from the MHSAA will be on hand to judge the Gabriel Richard student section, as it competes for the title of best in the state in the association’s “Battle of the Fans” contest. The students have announced a beach theme for the game.
Gabriel Richard was named one of five finalists last month, after submitting a video application. The winner will be announced Feb. 22.
Huron-Pioneer girls rescheduled
For the second time this season, the Huron-Pioneer girls matchup has been rescheduled to allow fans to watch both the boys and girls matchups.
The Feb. 8 game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. at Pioneer, is now scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Huron, immediately before the boys game.
The teams' previous matchup was moved from a Friday to a Thursday so fans could attend both games.
Game of the Week
The Dexter girls' game at Huron has drawn the most votes so far in this week's AnnArbor.com Game of the Week poll, but voting stays open until noon Saturday.