• Michigan

Heritage starts fast, gets balance scoring, and defeats Country Day, 59-49

By: Tom Markowski, February 17, 2018, 4:23 pm

Beverly Hills – Saginaw Heritage got the tournament warmup it wanted on Saturday as the Hawks tested their No. 1 ranking by going to defending Class B champion Detroit Country Day’s gymnasium.

“What’s intimidating here is not the crowd,” Heritage coach Vonnie DeLong said. “It’s the 12 (state championship) banners on the wall.”

If the Hawks had any jitters they disappeared in the first quarter as Heritage made nine of its 16 field goal tries and led 21-7. The Hawks built a 47-31 lead early in the fourth and went on to defeat Country Day, 59-49.

Heritage (17-0), ranked No. 1 in Class A all season and No. 1 in the Super 10 since Detroit Edison’s loss to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (54-49) on Jan. 11, used a balance scoring attack and a tenacious defense, both in the man-to-man and the three-two zone, to control the game throughout.

Mo Joiner and Jessie Bicknell each scored 13 points to lead the Hawks. Shine Strickland-Gills and Madison Camp each added 11 points, and Mallory McCartney scored nine.

Jasmine Powell led Country Day (13-4) with 17 points and five rebounds. Maxine Moore had 12 points, Maddie Novak had 10 and Kaela Webb, a likely Miss Basketball candidate, was held to six.

Heritage held a 27-20 advantage in rebounds with the 6-1 Strickland-Gills topping the Hawks with nine and Camp had six.

“Both our man and our zone were effective,” Joiner said. “We’ve been practicing the little things like getting over the screens and not under them. We kind of got tired and coach wanted us to take a deep breath so we went to a zone. It’s not like you don’t move in a zone.

“These games are very important. If we win these games it shows we can play with anyone.”

Heritage has two more Saginaw Valley League games remaining and one win will clinch the league title outright. Saturday’s game and Tuesday’s game at home against Edison are nonleague contests. Edison and Country Day are ranked in the Super 10, and the Hawks treat these games as tournament tune-ups.

“Our start was huge, being on the road,” DeLong said. “We were trying to cut off Webb in the middle. I don’t have that speed at the guard spot. I don’t have lightning-quick kids. We’re normally man (defensive) team but today, with their speed, we went to the zone. We tried to keep them out of the middle.”

Heritage opens up tournament play Feb. 26 at Midland against Mount Pleasant.

Country Day, losers of two straight, will open up the tournament against Center Line also on Feb. 26.