Breslin Bound: Dexter tops Saginaw Heritage to clinch first-ever state semifinal berth
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
DAVISON -- When Makenzie Svirha stepped to the free-throw line with 12.1 seconds left, her team down by one to Saginaw Heritage with a state semifinal berth on the line, she tried to calm herself down.
But she also didn’t avoid thoughts of just how big her next two shots were.
“I just tried to stay relaxed, and I just had to think about how much I wanted it,” Svirha said. “I know my team wanted it and I know I wanted it.”
Svirha made both ends of a one-and-one, putting the Dreadnaughts up by one en route toa 34-33 in a state quarterfinal win Tuesday night at Davison High School.
Dexter used its three remaining fouls before entering the bonus on the ensuing Heritage possession, running the clock down to 1.4 seconds, and the Hawks were unable to get a shot off on their final possession as a result.
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
The Dreadnaughts now advance to the Class A state semifinals on Friday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing (2:50 p.m.) to face Grosse Pointe South (24-1), the No. 2 ranked team in the Associated Press statewide rankings, after the Blue Devils topped Bloomfield Hills Marian, 63-58 Tuesday.
The game will be the first state semifinals game in program history.
“It’s so great,” forward Emma Kill said. “This is as far as Dexter’s ever gone. It’s so overwhelming.”
Tuesday night’s win was just another chapter in what’s been a heart-stopping postseason for the Dreadnaughts, with three of its last four games each coming down to the final possession.
In a regional final win over Farmington Hills Harrison on Thursday, Riley McDonald hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give her team the win after an 18-point comeback. Six days before that, the Dreadnaughtsstopped Huron on its final possession to win a district title.
“Would you have it any other way?” Bavineau said. “Since last week, every game has been like this, it’s come down to a possession here or a possession there. They just continue to grind and figure out a way to win the game.”
But on Tuesday, Saginaw Heritage was the team making the fourth-quarter comeback. After entering the fourth down by five, Heritage chipped away until a steal with 30 seconds left and a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession gave the Hawks a one-point lead.
When Dexter took the ball up the court, though, the Hawks fouled Svirha near midcourt, sending to the line exactly who Bavineau said he wanted shooting in that situation.
“We talked about it like all summer,” Bavineau said. “We’d be in the gym doing workouts, I’d be like ‘You’re going to have to stand there and you’re going to have to hit pressure free throws at some point.’ And she stepped up there and nailed them, and that was great.”
Against Harrison last Thursday, Svirha found herself in a similar situation. With 49 seconds left in regulation, she hit a game-tying bucket, but couldn’t hit the ensuing free throw, and the game headed to overtime.
“That was something I thought about a lot,” Svirha said. “And just to slow down, relax, and shoot.”
After Dexter jumped out to a six-point lead and held Heritage scoreless until the 2:35 mark of the first quarter, Heritage stormed back with a 9-2 run to take the lead with 3:20 left in the second quarter.
That bucket marked the first of eight scoring changes in the second quarter alone, culminating with a Teia McGahey layup as time expired that put Dexter up by one at the half.
McGahey led Dexter with 10 points, followed by Kill, who had all eight of her points in the first half.
Six of Dexter’s seven rotation players recorded points, and all had important plays at one point or another -- including second-half 3’s by McDonald and freshman Taylor Olson and five assists by Svirha.
“That just kind of speaks to our team,” Bavineau said. “We really are a group of people that believe in each other, that want to play for each other, and that’s what’s carrying us through at this point.”