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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Clarkston downs Kettering for first regional title since 2005

| March 11, 2018 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Clarkston took another giant leap on the hardcourt Thursday evening.

And the revenge tasted so sweet for the thirsty Wolves.

Clarkston captured its first Class A regional title since 2005 with a 50-33 victory over Waterford Kettering Thursday at West Bloomfield High School.

Kettering ousted Clarkston in state tournament play each of the past two years, including 44-31 in last year’s district finals. 

“Kettering knocked us out the past two years — they blew us out last year, so the girls remembered that,” admitted Clarkston coach Christine Rogers. “When you have a great group of seniors who don’t want it to end, they stepped up and said that there was no way we were going to lose to them again. We were solid everywhere and we’re enjoying this victory.”

Senior forward Kayla Luchenbach, headed for Division I Oakland University, dominated inside with a game-high 23 points, including 7-for-8 from the foul line, to go along with five rebounds and five blocks for the Wolves.

Senior guard Maddie Beck added 12 points, five rebounds and five steals, while senior center Molly Nicholson followed with 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the charity stripe with five rebounds. Overall, Clarkston finished the night 17-for-19 from the foul line.

Freshman Kaelyn Paul and sophomore Taylor Heaton aided the defensive effort in keeping the Captains at bay. Heaton contributed six steals to the winning effort.

“We were pretty efficient inside,” said Rogers. “When our bigs, Kayla and Molly, are playing great we’re heard to stop inside. We have a great 1-2 punch inside. And when you have a shooter like Maddie Beck who can hit shots from the outside, it makes us more difficult to stop. Kettering is tall but young. And we went right after them and had one of their big girls in foul trouble early on. That just opened it up more for us.

“Our defense was really solid again tonight, as it has been the whole to tournament,” added Rogers. “With our match-up zone defense, our freshman Kaelyn Paul was incredible on defense and on offense she had just one turnover . And Taylor Heaton has really come on strong. She was great defensively again with her six steals. We have a lot of girls that our stepping up even if they aren’t scoring.”

Kettering (17-7) was paced by senior Claire Bargaha’s nine points.

Clarkston led 17-11 after the first quarter and used a 13-7 run in the second period for a 30-18 halftime lead.

The Wolves surged even further ahead with a 10-9 scoring edge in the third stanza before closing on a 10-6 run for the 17-point win.

“We’re all excited. This is our first regional since 2005. That’s what our former coach told us,” said Rogers. “We’ve had some teams win districts since then, but have not been able to get over that hump.”

In en era when Clarkston has dominated in several sports, Clarkston’s girls basketball team has more than made a name for itself. Clarkston captured the Class A state championship last March in boys basketball, the football team won its third Division 1 state title in five years last fall, and the girls volleyball program captured league and district titles last fall and reached the regional finals.

“Our girls basketball program is trying to make a name for itself,” noted Rogers. “With all of the success in recent years with our football program, our boys basketball program and even our girls volleyball team making regionals this school year, we’re trying to make some history for ourselves.”

The Wolves, honorable mention in the Associated Press polls holding the No. 13 slot entering the tournament, will face top-ranked Saginaw Heritage (24-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the state quarterfinals at Grand Blanc High School.

Clarkston celebrates its first Class A regional title since 2005 following a 50-33 victory Thursday over Waterford Kettering. Photo | Larry McKee, www.lmckeephotography.com

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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