GIRLS BASKETBALL: Plymouth Canton ends Holly’s dream season
BY DAN STICKRADT
HOLLY — Three years ago Plymouth Canton made a run to the Class A Final Four.
The Chiefs still have three holdovers from that team and they are not ready to let their dream of a return trip die just yet.
Canton cleared a big hurdle Tuesday night at West Bloomfield, topping previously unbeaten Holly, 42-33, in a regional semifinal. White Lake Lakeland ousted Howell, 37-32, in the other semifinal and the two will meet Thursday for the regional championship at West Bloomfield.
The Chiefs’ bread-and-butter over the years — defense — stifled Holly during the fourth quarter, when Canton closed out with a 17-6 run to end Holly’s best season in school history.
“We made that run when our seniors were freshmen and I think that experience showed in a game like this. They were not rattled. They have played in a lot of tough games in their careers,” said Canton coach Brian Samulski. “I thought our defense was great in the fourth quarter and we did so against a very good team.”
Holly (22-1) led 27-25 entering the fourth quarter before going ice cold. The Bronchos were stymied down the stretch and attempted just six field goals in the fourth quarter, going 3-for-6 from the field — and all three field goals came in the final minute.
After sophomore Kaitlyn Smith scored on a layup with 15 seconds left in the third, the Bronchos did not score again until Allyssa Copley scored on a putback with 39 seconds left in the contest. Canton went on an 11-0 run during the time span for a 35-27 advantage, keeping Holly off the scoreboard for a combined 7:36.
The Chiefs converted 9-of-13 free throws while making 4-of-7 shots from the floor in the fourth period.
“I think we just ran into a team that was just a little better than us today,” admitted Holly coach David Hall. “They are a very good defensive team. We went toe-to-toe with them, but in the fourth quarter they pressured us so well and didn’t allow us to shoot much.”
Holly, which won Flint Metro League and district titles for the first time since the fall 1993 season, led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter and 18-17 at the break. The Bronchos ran out of steam against the taller Chiefs, who corralled three offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
“We had an incredible season with only one loss,” added Hall. “Looking back, we have nothing to be a shamed of. We left it all out on the floor.”
Copley, a 6-foot-1 senior headed for Cleveland State, led Holly with a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Paige Reid added eight points for the Bronchos, who had not lost since the district finals last season.
Senior forward Paige Aresco scored 17 and senior center Taylor Hunley added 12 points with nine rebounds for Canton.
“We have been here before and this is the next step,” said Samulski. “Now, we’ll get ready for Lakeland. Everybody left is good.”