GIRLS BASKETBALL: Kettering shuts of Stoney Creek for regional crown

| March 9, 2012 | Comments (1)




LAKE ORION — Scott Woodhull has plenty of memories of Waterford Kettering making a long postseason run.

The veteran Waterford Kettering girls basketball coach was on the sidelines when the Captains last made the Class A Final Four in 2000.

Now in his second stint with the Captains, Kettering is again making another long postseason run and this year’s team added another chapter to its fine season with a 40-28 victory over Rochester Stoney Creek in a Class A regional final Thursday at Lake Orion.

Kettering, which was upset in the first round of the tournament last season by Troy but welcomed back virtually that entire team, will play in the state quarterfinals Tuesday at U-D Mercy’s Calihan Hall against Grosse Pointe South.

“A lot of people didn’t think we could do this,” admitted Kettering coach Scott Woodhull. “But we believed we could do it.”

KEEPING IT ALIVE: Rochester Stoney Creek freshman Maria Zandi saves the ball from going out of bounds during Thursday’s Class A regional finals against Waterford Kettering. Photo | Larry McKee,

Troy knocked the Captains out of the tournament last season when Kettering carried a 19-1 ledger into the postseason. That fear was still present this season, but the Captains have found a way to succeed this season and are now part of the Elite Eight in Class A.

“There was still that anxiety. You could see it with the way we played in the districts,” noted Woodhull, whose team edge Pontiac and Auburn Hills Avondale in the final two rounds of district play last week before beating Southfield Lathrup and Stoney Creek this week. “But I think we played through it and played better this week.”

Kettering finished the night only 16-for-39 from the floor (41 percent) and made just 4-of-18 three-pointers (22.2 percent), but the Captains did a tremendous rendition of shutdown defense on Stoney Creek and all-state guard Gabby Yurik.

Stoney Creek was held to a 7-for-48 shooting night (14.3 percent), including 3-of-18 from beyond the three-point arc (16.7 percent). The Cougars (16-8), who won their first district title and were making their first appearance in the regional finals this season, made 11-of-12 free throws but could never get over the hump.

“We battled, but we could never seem to make the big shot that cut the lead down to a couple of points,” said Crighton. “When you are 7-for-48 shooting, it’s hard to beat a team like Kettering.

“We hung in there, but shot the ball horrible,” continued Crighton. “We had our looks in the first half and even in the second half we had some looks. We just couldn’t make that next shot or couldn’t make that run.”

Kettering led 7-4 after the first quarter — neither team scored for the first 3:09 of the contest — and used a 13-9 edge in the second quarter for a 20-13 lead at the half.

The Captains were 7-for-23 shooting in the first half and Stoney Creek just 3-of-24 entering the locker room.

Kettering continued to blanket Yurik and the Cougars’ other shooters in the third frame and took a 26-21 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Captains closed out with a 14-7 run, scoring a pair of late buckets following long passes that beat the Cougars’ press.

Kettering (23-2) held Yurik to just one three-pointer, five points total and a 1-for-17 shooting night with two free throws. Sophomore center Natalie Voss led Stoney Creek with 14 points and six rebounds, while senior forward Keri Scipione scored six and senior guard Lauren Bolhuis finished with six rebounds, three steals and only two points, again agitated by the Captains’ stellar defensive effort.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. This is the furthest we’ve ever gone,” said Brighton. “It was just a bad shooting night for us.”

Junior guard Taylor Steinhelper scored 13 and senior guard Allison Bicknell twined 10 for the Captains. Junior Shelby Watts scored five with eight rebounds and a pair of blocks for Kettering.

“We knew we had to stop Yurik. She’s one of the best we’ve seen,” said Woodhull. “I think we did a god job of guarding her and some of their secondary shooters. (Yurik) is not just a great scorer, but a great passer and we knew that. We had to stop her in order to have a chance and we not only frustrated her, but we did a great job on all of their secondary shooters.”

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