East Lansing – It didn’t take Detroit King long to show its 3-point shooting was a big part of its arsenal Friday at the Breslin Center.
DePaul-bound guard Micaela Kelly made a pair of 3-pointers in the game’s first two minutes and teammate Tia Tedford knocked down another shot from deep range to set the tempo for a 9-3 lead and King went on to defeat St. Johns, 56-48, in a Class A state semifinal.
King (24-1) made 4-of-5 threes in the opening quarter, then freshman Del’Janae Williams and sophomore Erica Whitley-Jackson connected on 3-pointers to open up the second for a 22-14 cushion with 6:55 left in the half.
In all, King connected on 9-of-18 long-range shots with junior point guard Alicia Norman, playing on an injured ankle, making all three of her attempts and scoring 14 points.
“I wanted to get off to a good start because I had never seen this team play and I wanted to jump on them so we wouldn’t have to worry about fighting back,” said Kelly, who scored a game-high 18, making 5-of-7 shots, including 2-of 3 threes.
King, which led 24-17 at halftime, made it tough for St. Johns with its half-court trapping defense. St. Johns struggled with its perimeter shooting, making just 2-of-10 threes in the first half and 5-of-19 for the game.
How good was King’s defense in that second quarter? Well, St. Johns made just one basket and it came on Brooke Mazzolini’s short jumper with 45 seconds to go.
“We are a great defensive team,” Kelly said. “Our favorite defense is man and we just like to trap all over the floor and keep the intensity up.”
In the third quarter, King consistently attacked the basket, five straight times with Norman making two free throws, followed by six straight points from Kelly, starting with a driving layup, then two free throws, and capped off with a crossover dribble and layup for a 35-26 lead.
Kelly wasn’t done, grabbing a rebound and finding Whitely-Jackson for a transition basket and 37-26 lead late in the third, then getting an offensive rebound and finding Norman for King’s ninth 3-pointer and a 47-33 advantage with 5:30 left.
“I’m just excited because I’m running faster than I was (in Tuesday’s quarterfinal),” Norman said. “I just took what the defense gave me.”
Whitely-Jackson scored 10, making 2-of-4 threes.
“Our goal was to keep them out of the lane and challenge their shooters and they came out and hit their first three shots (3-pointers) and it was like, holy smoke,” St. Johns coach Mark Lasceski said.
“We’ve had a great run, beat a lot of teams and played different styles, but King was a little different in that they shot really well from the perimeter consistently, shot 50 percent (from 3-point range) and that was the big difference.”
Sophomore guard Maddie Maloney scored 12, making 4-of-8 shots (3-of-6 threes) while the rest of her teammates connected on just 13-38 (33 percent) and 2-of-13.