Ypsilanti sneaks past Skyline, Huron destroys Dexter to set up district final between SEC powers
It’s was a rough regular season for the Skyline boys basketball team. The Eagles lost four games by two points or less and another in overtime after a buzzer beater tied the game in regulation.
With the Eagles postseason starting on Wednesday it was an opportunity to start anew.
But as the saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same.
A missed alley-oop that would have tied the game with less than 10 seconds remaining was the final missed opportunity in a season full of them for the Eagles on Wednesday night. Ypsilanti was able to escape with a 39-35 win in the Class A district semifinal between the teams at Skyline High School.
The alley-oop slipped past the extended arms of center Tristan Wilson, who came open after Peter Bakker-Arkema set a perfect backside pick. Wilson had an open path to the basket, but just couldn’t corral the pass for a shot attempt.
“It was a really good game, it would have been nice to be on the other side of one of these,” said Skyline coach Mike Lovelace. “We executed well down the stretch, it’s just kind of the way it’s been.”
Skyline took the lead with six minutes, 36 seconds left in the third quarter and after back-to-back 3-pointers from Bakker-Arkema and Jack Clark had the largest lead of the game at 27-19.
Just two nights removed from scoring 66 points in a win over Pioneer, Ypsilanti struggled to just barely score half that amount.
“We felt like they had a battle against Pioneer for sure and I felt like we could just use our depth and really pressure them full court and try the best to just keep the pressure on and keep going and hopefully we’d be able to take over at the end,” Lovelace said.
Lovelace said he targeted the final four minutes of the game for his team to be able to take over, but the opposite occurred as Ypsilanti locked down on defense and went on an 11-2 run in the final 5:30 of play.
“A lot of nights, man, there’s going to be a lid on the basket so we just tell them to work. You just gotta keep working,” said Ypsilanti coach Steve Brooks. “We always have confidence that we can get a stop The kids have a saying, ‘That’s how we eat.’”
Ypsilanti will play Huron in Friday’s district final. The River Rats will be going for their fifth straight district title after leading from beginning to end in a 57-22 win over Dexter.
Huron’s press led to nine first-quarter Dexter turnovers and the River Rats led 15-4 at half a vast improvement compared to their slow start against Pinckney on Monday.
“Kids played with a sence of urgency, Monday night we played with desperation,” said Huron coach Waleed Samaha. “When we play with urgency especially in our press, we can give people problems.”
Four straight 3-pointers helped Huron end the half on a 12-2 run that put the nail in the coffin of Dexter’s season as Huron led 37-8 at the break.
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Huron coach Waleed Samaha knows his team won’t have as easy of a time at it on Friday.
“(Ypsilanti’s) I think the best pressure defensive team in the state in all kind of positions they defend hard, they rebound well. Having those sky skrapers in there doesn’t hurt, but I think their guards are underrated rebounders,” Samaha said. “Both teams make defense a priority, so that’s going to be the theme going into that game.”
Ypsilanti was 2-of-12 from the free-throw line on Wednesday, which many times killed rallies and kept the Phoenix from putting the game away late. Senior guard Janeau Joubert said that will have to change on Friday.
“Huron’ s really good team,” Joubert said. “Tomorrow in practice we’re going to work on free throws a lot.”