Through two quarters of play on Monday at Saline High School, the Huron boys’ basketball team seemed to be in trouble and in danger of a short postseason.
In the second half, the team many expect to contend for a championship reappeared, surging the River Rats to a 56-47 win over Saline in the District opener. No. 6 Huron (20-1) advances to the District semifinals, where it will face Belleville (16-4). The game tips off at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at EMU Convocation Center.
The River Rats were led by terrific play from standout guards Julian Lewis and Devin Womack. Lewis totaled a game-high 19 points, while Womack added 13 for the Rats.
Huron got off to a decent start in the first quarter. The River Rats had the lead less than 10 seconds into the game, as Mike Robinson beat Saline down the floor for a quick layup right off the tip. Womack extended Huron’s lead late in the quarter, converting both a three-point play and a three-point field goal in the final minutes of the quarter to give the visitors a 14-8 lead after the quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, Huron’s shooting went cold and Saline opened the quarter on an 11-0 run to snatch the lead and send the home crowd into a frenzy. Saline’s terrific guard tandem of Trevor Arico and Griffin Yaklich gave Huron fits, creating fouls and turnovers and converting them into points.
Arico led Saline with 18 points, and Yaklich scored 13 for the Hornets.
Huron was able to close the gap late in the quarter, as Lewis made two baskets and found Robinson in transition for a three-point play. Saline led 23-21 at halftime.
Things went from bad to worse for Huron early in the third quarter, as Yaklich and Tyler Belskus each made layups for Saline, extending its lead. What was worse for the River Rats, forward Kingsley Perkins picked up his third and fourth fouls in the first part of the third quarter, forcing him to the bench.
Huron has faced adversity all season, and wasn’t about to go quietly. The River Rats responded with a 13-0 run, turning three straight defensive steals at one point into points at the other end, including three-pointers from Robinson and Tyson Edmondson.
The River Rats extended their lead with two more three-pointers at the end of the quarter, including one in the final seconds from Lewis. Huron scored 21 points in the quarter, as many as it did in the first two quarters combined, to take a 42-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
With Perkins still on the bench, junior forward Brandon Rawls stepped up for Huron, scoring 4 points, including a basket to start the final quarter. Saline cut the lead to 54-47 in the final minute on a three-point shot, but Lewis made two clutch free throws to seal the game.