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D1 SEMIS: Heritage refuses to lose, holds off Wayne Memorial in semis to return to title game

D1 SEMIS: Heritage refuses to lose, holds off Wayne Memorial in semis to return to title game
BY: MATTHEW B. MOWERY Mar 22, 5:45pm

GRAND RAPIDS — They’d been through this before, and refused to let their run end here.

Having already navigated their way through the top level of girls basketball for a championship once here at Calvin College, the Saginaw Heritage Hawks weren’t going to let their title defense end in the semifinals on Friday.

They gutted out a 58-55 win over Wayne Memorial, keeping their chances of a repeat alive until the final day.

“We didn’t come here to go home without a trophy,” Heritage coach Vonnie DeLong said.

Saturday, the Hawks (24-2) will face Southfield A&T (24-1) for the Division 1 championship game at 12:15 p.m., at Calvin’s Van Noord Arena.

Heritage led 16-8 after the first quarter, and pushed the lead to 13 points with 2:27 remaining in the first half. The Zebras (24-3) would make surge after surge, answered by the Hawks, until finally the pressure defense of Wayne started to produce easier buckets in the second half.

Wayne tied it up at 43-43 on a Jayah Hicks 3-pointer with 6:22 left, then took a brief lead, 45-43, on a layup by Sammiyah Hoskin with 5:47 left.

Heritage freshman Lauren Gunn knocked down a jumper to tie it at 45-45 with 5:24 left, then Moira Joiner hit a 3 with 4:52 to put Heritage back on top. Jeanae Terry tied it at 48-48 with a 3 of her own, but a Mallory McCartney 3 with 3:00 left put Heritage ahead for good.

Joiner split a pair from the line with 1:25 left to make it a two-point game, 54-52, then hit two more with 22 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, at 56-52. Mccartney knocked down two free throws with nine seconds remaining to make it a six-point affair, then Terry hit a 3 just three seconds later to cut it to three, but — after a timeout — the Hawks were able to inbound the ball and run out the final second to close out the win.

Despite spending time on the bench in foul trouble, Shine Strickland-Gills had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Joiner had a quiet triple-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. McCartney added 10 points.

Terry led all scorers with 26 points, while Hoskin had 14.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a preliminary version of the final story. Click back later for the final version, which will include details and quotes.]