Midway through the third quarter, the Huron girls’ basketball team turned a steal into a layup and its biggest lead of the night at 29-20 over Saline in a Division 1 District championship game.
The River Rats knew all too well that this game was far from over after having played the talented Hornets twice during the regular season. If they didn’t know it, they discovered it pretty fast as Saline closed the quarter on a 14-2 run to take a 34-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
Three different times in the final quarter, the River Rats cut the lead to two points, including with 24.9 seconds left to play, but could never catch the Hornets who advance to the Regionals with a 50-44 win in the District final at Lincoln before a large and enthusiastic crowd.
The loss ends the season for the River Rats, who were led by a strong group of seniors and won an SEC Red Division title under the direction of head coach Scott Hunter and assistant Byron Douglas.
Alexa Lyon had a strong game for the River Rats. One of those talented seniors, Lyon finished the night with a team-high 16 points. Senior Mckenzie Maciejewski had eight points and seniors Reeya Patel and Siena Smith each scored six points for Huron.
Saline junior Ella Stemmer hit some huge shots in the second half and led the Hornets with 19 points. Senior Steffi Bentley, who also had a strong game for the Hornets, scored 17 points.
The River Rats dominated the first part of the third quarter. Ahead 18-16 at halftime, Siena Smith dropped a triple from the wing to make it 25-20. Jadyn Smith then hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 27-20. With 4:41 left in the quarter, Siena Smith stole the ball and passed to Patel for a layup to give the River Rats a 29-20 lead.
The Hornets didn’t buckle, rattle or go quietly into the cold night. Instead, they went on a game-changing run. A layup by Bentley cut Huron’s lead to 29-26.
Glaze then knocked down consecutive triples to give the Hornets a 32-29 lead with 51.4 seconds left in the third. It was a lead they would never surrender.
Maureen Kengara scored inside just before the buzzer to send the Hornets into the fourth quarter with a 34-31 lead.
A triple by Stemmer pushed it 37-31 before the River Rats got rolling again.
Lyon scored inside and then converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to 38-36. With 4:24 left in the game, Lyon knocked down a pair of free throws to bring Huron to within 40-38.
Saline answered at the other end. Another triple from Stemmer gave the Hornets a 43-38 lead with 3:28 to play. A steal and layup by Maciejewski brought Huron to within 43-40.
With 1 minute left on the clock, Saline’s Amera Boyd hit a free throw to make it 46-40. But the River Rats would not go quietly.
With 24.9 seconds left, Maciejewski knocked down a long triple to cut the lead to 46-44. But Sophie Canen delivered two big free throws that helped deliver the Hornets to the Regionals.
Huron led 7-5 after one quarter. The Hornets jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Huron scored five straight points. Both teams then struggled to score for the rest of the quarter before Patel scored with 2 seconds left on the clock.
Huron went ahead 14-11 on a triple by Maciejewski. A basket inside by Khady Ba – off a great pass from Jadyn Smith – gave the River Rats a 16-13 lead. A nice baseline drive and basket by Lyon gave Huron an 18-13 lead with 1:17 left in the second quarter.