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Fletcher’s 37 points leads Cousino past Hudsonville, into first Class A final

By: Jeff Dullack, March 18, 2016, 7:30 pm

East Lansing – While Warren Cousino had never played on the big stage of the Class A semifinals before, Patriots’ star junior, Kierra Fletcher, played as if she was meant to be here.

Fletcher scored the first six points of the game as Cousino jumped out to an 11-0 lead and cruised to a 60-45 victory over Hudsonville at the Breslin Center.

Fletcher scored 37 points as Cousino advanced to the Class A final for the first time and will play Detroit King for the title on Saturday at noon.

Heck, Cousino hadn’t won a regional before this season.

Cousino coach Mike Lee said that his team was able to start off the game on a high note in a number of different ways.

“I feel like we set the tone early on defense and it helps when you hit your first four shots that you take,” he said. “Kate (McArthur) set the tone, especially from the outside range and Kierra kind of set the tone on the inside.”

Fletcher scored eight of her team’s first 11 points and then it was McArthur’s turn. She knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Patriots a 19-6 lead.

Fletcher said her first six points of the game was key for getting her team going and added that the defensive play was a big key throughout.

“It was a great feeling,” she said. “I just wanted to come out and get the win and I think making my first three shots early on set the tone throughout the whole game and the defensive intensity that we all had throughout the whole game. We were all riled up and intense and just hyped up for the game.”

In the second half Fletcher rattled off eight consecutive points as Cousino increased its lead to 45-25 late in the third quarter.

Fletcher said that with her team making its first semifinal appearance, she and her teammates played with plenty of energy and expects more of the same on Saturday.

“Especially since it was the first time in school history, we’ve had a lot of firsts this year, first regional and now the first time we’re at the Breslin and now it’s the first championship game that we’re playing for,” he said. “So I think that kind of plays in our favor to play harder and I think we have a very good chance.”

Fletcher scored 12 points in the third quarter, finished with nine rebounds and five assists.

Hudsonville managed to trim the Cousino lead to 50-39 after back-to-back baskets from Shaina DenBesten, but Cousino responded with two straight baskets of its own, one from Mackenzie Anderson and the other from Fletcher.

Hudsonville coach Casey Glass said that it was difficult for his team to dig out of the early hole it found itself in, but was pleased with the way it managed to close the gap late.

“It’s very hard,” he said. “You’re on a big stage and the kids are trying as hard as they can and you look up at that scoreboard and it’s 11-0. We had good looks early, but we didn’t finish and it was hard to crawl out of that hole, but I’m just proud of how they battled at the end to try and get back in it.”

DenBesten finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Chloe Guingrich added in 12 points and 10 rebounds for Hudsonville.