By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Manchester Lady Dutch Girls Basketball season came to an end yesterday night at Napoleon High School. They fell in the Regional title game to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Gators by a final score of 48-37.
Coming into the contest the Lady Dutch were dealing with something they’ve dealt with all post-season, a height disadvantage. The Gators are another talented lengthy team with a finalist for the Miss Michigan Basketball Award, awarded to the state’s top senior, in Lasha Petree.
The game plan defensively was similar to many of the opponents they had played this season with more height. Pack it in and limit their offensive possessions to one shot.
“We just wanted to keep her away from the basket,” said Manchester head coach Corey Fether on his game plan against Petree. “As tall as she is and as long as she is, if she wanted to shoot the three every time down, we wouldn’t be able to stop it if we wanted to. We just wanted to make sure that we were not giving her any easy baskets and I think we made her work for all of them.”
The Gators jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter with Petree scoring in the paint and on a pull-up jumper. The Lady Dutch were active on the boards early, securing four in the first four minutes.
Lady Dutch junior guard Avery Collins had all five points in the quarter as Arbor Prep led 12-5 after one. Collins was initially guarded by Petree, a matchup throughout the night, but was often hounded by double teams or half court traps.
In the second quarter, much like many recent games for the Lady Dutch, they were able to climb back in the game due to driving the lane and getting the Gators into foul trouble.
With 39 seconds remaining in the half junior center Jayden Humphrey drew a charge on Petree and after a Lady Dutch timeout, Collins hit a corner three-pointer with 18 seconds left to cut the Gators lead to three at halftime, 20-17, and send the Lady Dutch into the locker room to thunderous applause from a nearly filled to capacity side for Manchester.
“We can play with this team,” said Fether on what he told he his team at halftime.
Outscoring the Gators 16-11 in the third quarter behind two three-pointers from Lady Dutch sophomore forward Natalie Bargardi and another from junior guard Mackenzie Pietryzk, bodies began to hit the floor constantly as both teams began to up their physical style of play.
With 1:26 remaining Pietrzyk’s three-pointer from the wing to give the Lady Dutch a 33-31 lead. Humphrey sent Gator senior guard Sasha Thomas’ three-point corner attempt flying into the corner on an emphatic block on the following possession and the Lady Dutch defense would hold at the end of the quarter.
In all four quarters, the Gators would stall during the last minute or so of the game, a time using tactic due to the fact that there is no shot clock in high school basketball.
The Gators would start out the quarter on a 14-0 run and the Lady Dutch weren’t able to score until there were 40 seconds remaining, being outscored 16-3 in the fourth quarter to fall 48-37.
“They hit a couple big shots to start the fourth,” said Fether. “We missed a few shots we usually make and they’re a great free throw shooting team. We couldn’t foul them and get back into it.”
Collins led the team with 15 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Bargardi had six points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal, Pietrzyk added eight points and five rebounds, and Humphrey finished with six points, five assists, three rebounds, a steal, and a block.
The Lady Dutch ended the season with a 19-6 overall record and a 14-2 record over their last 16 games.
With only one departing senior and a team that went the furthest since Manchester won a class C state title in 2013, Fether was looking forward to next year.
“It was an exciting year and very excited for next year,” said Fether. “I’m so proud (of the team), playing hard and playing until the final buzzer. Win with class and lose with class.”