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The Salenbiens lead Lenawee Christian to its first state title; Cougars defeat Chassell, 57-36, in the Class D final

By: Tom Markowski, March 17, 2018, 12:42 pm

Grand Rapids – Adrian Lenawee Christian won its first state title on Saturday and with just one senior on the roster the Cougars will likely be the team to beat next season.

Freshman Bree Salenbien had 20 points and 11 rebounds as Lenawee Christian pulled away from Chassell in the second half to claim a 57-36 victory in the Class D final at Calvin College’s Van Noord Arena in Grand Rapids.

Lenawee Christian lost in the Class D final in 2010 to Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, 48-43. Chassell (26-2) defeated Lakes in Thursday’s semifinal to reach the final for the first time.

The Cougars (26-1) ended the season on a 19-game winning streak. Their only loss was to Monroe, a Class A school, 41-40.

“What an experience,” Lenawee Christian coach Jamie Salenbien said. “It’s a special time for our community.

“We played fearless. Defensively, in the second half, what’d we hold them to, 13 points? We tried to make that our identity the whole season.”    

Lenawee Christian (26-1) never trailed and led 24-23 at halftime.

Jenna Lilly’s basket with 23 seconds left in the first quarter gave Lenawee Christian its largest lead of the half at 17-10.

Sydney Danison had nine points in the first half for Chassell to help keep the Panthers close.

The Panthers remained within striking distance early in the second half before Lenawee Christian steadily took control. Two free throws by Bree Salenbien’s sister and Jamie’s other daughter, Dani, a sophomore, started a 9-0 run and the Cougars led 40-29 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

Jenna Pietila made a 3-pointer for Chassell to pull the Panthers within 40-32 and the Cougars answered with a 5-0 run to end the quarter and they maintained that double-digit lead.

“We scrambled a little (in the third quarter),” Chassell coach Brandi Hainault said. “We were over-helping too much. We were a little nervous attempting the threes. If you miss, you then have to play transition defense.

“First time being here, it’s a great thing. It’s a hard thing (to lose). The girls played with a lot of hustle. We just made too many mistakes.”

For the second consecutive game, Lenawee Christian had four players score in double figures. Libby Miller added 11 points and Dani Salenbien and Caitlin Anderson each had 10.

For Chassell Danison had 17 points and seven rebounds Milly Allen scored 10 points and Sophia Huhta had eight rebounds.

When asked about the team’s youth, Dani said, “I’m kind of in a dream world. We’re fighters and we haven’t stopped fighting.”