By Travis Smola
Perfection ended for the Schoolcraft girls’ varsity basketball team, but not before it gave one of the best teams in the state a real scare.
The Eagles fell 61-55 in the girls’ basketball quarter finals against Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in a battle of a game. “We left it all on the court,” Head Coach Steve Kulczyk said.
He said he felt like a few missed rebounds could have ultimately helped swing momentum in the Gators’ favor. The girls sank 19 free throws in the contest, including nine by senior Lydia Goble.
Going into the contest, Goble only needed seven points to go over the 1,000 point mark in her career. She easily surpassed that and ended the game with 20, including three three-pointers. Gabi Saxman was the next highest scorer for the Eagles, putting up 15 points, seven of which came on the free throw line.
Freshman Anna Schuppel put up nine points and was a key player under the rim using her height to bring down rebounds and give Schoolcraft additional opportunities. Late in the third, she took an elbow to the jaw from a Gator defender which cut her lip, but she quickly shook it off and got back in the game only minutes later.
Kennedy Leighton also had a strong game, sinking three clutch three pointers including one late to keep the Eagles in the game.
The score was actually tied 12-12 after one quarter and Ypsilanti Arbor Prep held just a two-point lead 28-26 at the half. In the third, the two teams traded the lead back and forth multiple times.
Even though Kulczyk felt the team took good shots all game long, as the game got into the waning minutes, the Gators built their lead up to six. And the importance of some of the missed free throws earlier in the game became a little more obvious. “That’s been our Achilles’ heel all season,” Kulczyk said.
But he also noted that the team they faced has several future college athletes, including at least one that will play ball at the Division 1 level. The Eagles were still able to keep these talented players in check. Neither team had more than a six point lead. “To beat a team like this, you’ve got to be clicking,” Kulczyk said.
He still felt it was a great season. Fans may be disappointed, but there will still be plenty to look forward to as the team will have several talented players returning. Schoolcraft finishes its season with a 25-1 record.