Shorthanded Huron girls basketball team advances to regional final
This story has been updated.
FARMINGTON -- After last week’s district victory, Huron High School coach Steve Vinson estimated his team had played four games with its full lineup. The result largely was the same. The River Rats won.
As the state tournament continues, not much has changed outside of the competition. The bench is still short. The River Rats keep finding players to step up. The wins keep coming.
Huron played Tuesday’s Class A regional semifinal against West Bloomfield without star guard Devin Talley, who was forced to sit out the game after receiving a flagrant foul in the district final, and Ariel Bethea, who was out for an undisclosed reason.
Yet, the River Rats found just enough offense to make a second-half run and just enough defense to hold off West Bloomfield’s last charge to capture a 50-44 victory and advance to the regional final on Thursday.
They’ll play Hartland, which was a 41-37 winner over Northville. (Boxscore)
Down four coming out of halftime, Huron waited until the end of the third to make its run. While Vinson felt his team didn’t play poorly in the first half, he credited an increased defensive effort and better care of the basketball for change of fortune in the final quarters.
There was also a spark plug in the form of freshman Kamala Glenn. She scored four straight points for Huron. With West Bloomfield adding two free throws in between, the points kept the River Rats within one possession both times.
One trip after Glenn brought the game within three, Auzhane King hit a wide-open 3-pointer to tie the game. Huron would go on to score eight of the next nine points.
“We usually always just need one big shot to get us all going again to boost our energy,” Williams said. “It was huge.”
In Talley’s absence, Williams led her team with nine points, while both King and Logan Sims added eight. But King’s biggest impact may have been in leading the defensive effort.
After hitting three shots in the second quarter West Bloomfield’s Sydni Davis was held to just one shot from the field in the second half. Davis would finish with 12 points. Teammate Ashley Zeigler had 17 points, but just five in the second half.
“Me personally, I knew I had to carry my team because we were missing players,” King said.
But as fast as Huron gained control of the game, West Bloomfield took it back. A 10-point lead with 3:30 left turned into a 3-pont lead, 47-44, in two minutes.
When asked what led to the Laker run after the game, Vinson looked down and shook his head.
“We just made some bad decisions,” Vinson said. “We didn’t have great composure and that’s where Devin helps out, being a senior.”
Vinson told the team not to take 3-pointers once they took the lead. A missed 3-pointer from the corner gave West Bloomfield the ball back, still down three with just over a minute left. But after a timeout, Huron’s Bianca Williams stole the in-bound, and Huron hit enough free-throws down the stretch to move on to the round of 16.
Just two wins away from reaching the Breslin Center for the state semifinals and final, Huron has a rule so they don’t look ahead.
“No (talk of) Breslin until the Thursday game,” Huron’s Bianca Williams said.
Standing in the way of that talk is Hartland, who fell behind early and was forced to slowly chip away throughout the game before a late three paved the way for a win over Northville.
“I’m not sure how well we played,” Hartland coach Don Palmer said. “But when you win, you don’t think so much about that. We played OK. I thought Northville played very well and it was just a tough matchup because of their size and their shot-blockers.
“In tournament play, whether you play well or not, you take the win and just go on to the next game.”
A last minute 3-pointer from Angela Wachsmith gave the Eagles a 35-34 lead they never relinquished.
Bailee Maggert lead the way for Hartland with 12 points while Kayla Soave added 10. Northville’s Alex Moynes scored a game-high 15.
Michael Florek covers sports for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.