Unranked Flushing upsets defending champ Cousino, 52-36, in a Class A semifinal
East Lansing – Much like Warren Cousino did last season, Flushing has escaped from the shadows and is one game away from accomplishing what Cousino did.
Flushing outscored Cousino (24-3) in every quarter and upset the No. 2-ranked and defending state champions, 52-36, in a Class A semifinal on Friday at the Breslin Center.
Flushing (23-3), unranked all season, will play East Kentwood (25-1) in Saturday’s final at noon. East Kentwood defeated Southfield for the Arts and Technology, 55-51.
It’s the first state-final appearance for both teams.
Cousino never won a region title until last season and the Patriots made a remarkable run to the title behind the sprited play of Kierra Fletcher.
Fletcher had 30 points and seven rebounds but she was alone on island as her teammates combined to make just one field goal in 29 attempts.
Flushing was outstanding on the defensive end. From the middle of the first quarter on the Raiders continually frustrated Cousino. Mackenzie Cook’s basket with 4:46 left in the first pulled the Patriots to within 7-6. Cousino would score just three more baskets in the first half, all by Fletcher.
Flushing led 19-10 after the first quarter and 33-20 at halftime. Cousino got within 35-25 on a Fletcher basket with 5:03 left in the third but that’s as close as the Patriots would come.
“It’s hard to formulate thoughts,” Flushing coach Larry Ford said. “(My players) are very good at figuring out the game plan and executing the game plan. Defense was the key. We took Cousino out of what they like to do, from what we saw on film.”
Flushing forced eight turnovers in the first half and committed just one.
Offensively, Flushing was efficient. Breanna Perry is Flushing star player and the 6-1 center, who signed with Temple, constantly caused havoc around the basket for Cousino. Perry was 5-of-8 from the field and had 16 points, seven rebounds, one steal and one block.
Shelby Morrow was 4-of-5 from the field in the first half and had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. Lauren Newman was 4-of-8 from the field, 5-of-6 from the free throw line and had 14 points.
As good as Newman was offensively, she was more important to her team on defense. Her assignment was to defend Fletcher, a 5-9 guard who signed with Georgia Tech, was Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan and finished second to Jordan Walker (Muskegon Mona Shores) in the voting for Miss Basketball.
Yes, Fletcher had 30 points but she attempted 26 shots (11 field goals). Fletcher had to work for everything and although it wasn’t all on Newman, because Flushing double-teamed Fletcher anytime she got within 15 feet of the basket, Newman was the focal point.
“I knew (Fletcher) could drive real well and hit the jumper straight up,” Newman said. “I wanted a square base and grit my teeth.”
Cousino’s run to the semifinals was far different than its run last season when few expected the patriots to win a region, let alone a state title. Teams looked forward to play Cousino this season to have that opportunity to defeat the champions.
“We knew we’d get everyone’s best effort,” Cousino coach Mike Lee said. “(Flushing) hasn’t been here and sometimes it’s an advantage. I think we were pressing too much today. I don’t know if it really helps you being here before.”
So ends one of the career of one of the best players in Macomb County history. Fletcher was the heart and soul of the Cousino program the last three seasons and things just won’t be the same for the program on Hoover Road in Warren.
“I feel a lot of pride,” Fletcher said. “Last year was amazing. It’s almost more amazing getting back here this year. It was a lot tougher this year. I’m just proud of all these girls. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We didn’t back down from the fight.”