Kettering heads to quarterfinals, shuts down Port Huron Northern for a 45-29 victory
Sterling Heights – Scott Woodhull has won a lot of games as Waterford Kettering’s coach this season and his team has put the clamps down on a number of good teams.
It’s difficult for Woodhull to pinpoint a better defensive performance than Thursday’s 45-29 win over Port Huron Northern for the program’s first Class A regional championship since 2012.
Northern didn’t record its first field goal until the 6:14 mark of the second quarter and was forced into a plethora of turnovers at Sterling Heights Stevenson.
"Defensively, boy," Woodhull said. "It’s hard to say. We’ve held some teams, but they weren’t as good as this team. We moved and cut and we took care of business. We didn’t allow any easy passes inside. We stopped their penetration. We challenged their 3-point shots."
Northern (21-4) is no slouch. The Huskies won a regional title last season.
Kettering (23-1) will now face its more difficult challenge in a quarterfinal. On Tuesday the Captains play defending champion and top-ranked Birmingham Marian (23-1) at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore at 7 p.m.
Kettering started fast. It raced out to an 18-3 lead after a corner 3-pointer from Julia Kroll at the buzzer to end the first quarter.
"I’ve seen them a couple times and knew they had that ability to get out," Northern coach Mark Dickinson said. "They started fast and we didn’t perform really that well the first half at all. … We gave them some easy ones. I never felt like we were out of it, but we just couldn’t get started."
Even the rare open looks weren’t falling. Trailing 24-11 to start the second half, an uncontested and missed layup off a steal midway through the third served as a microcosm of the Huskies’ night.
Northern had points on consecutive possessions just once the first three quarters. The Huskies’ longest run was nine late in the fourth with starters for both teams already pulled.
"Sometimes it doesn’t click," Dickinson said, "and tonight was one of those nights where it didn’t really click for us, offensively anyway."
The Captains, meanwhile, received a balanced scoring effort with five players registering at least six points. Sophomore Lillia Schoof led with 11 points and eight rebounds, senior Lauren Tewes had seven with eight boards while Haley Tewes, Emily Bernas and Kroll each had six points apiece.
"We were mentally focused," Schoof said. "I’m so proud of my team. We stuck together through all this and stayed positive as well as made the right choices and kept our heads in the game."
Riley Fealko led the Huskies with 10 points and nine rebounds.
A year ago, the Captains admittedly were worn down at this juncture. Two weeks ago Kettering suffered its only loss of the season, in double overtime to Salem in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship game.
It’s a group that’s put those hard lessons to good use and finds itself a win away from a trip to the Breslin Center and the state’s final four.
"It was awesome to get that monkey off our back," Schoof said of the loss to Salem. "With that one loss, it motivated us to go farther into the state (tournament). It made us realize that we’re not perfect and that we can work hard and we can conquer anything if we just stay mentally focused."