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Country Day beats Divine Child, advances to semis

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Marysville — Destiny Pitts and Detroit Country Day turned up the defensive pressure against Dearborn Divine Child Tuesday night to walk away with a 47-39 victory to earn their first state quarterfinal win since 2010.

Country Day (20-4) will play Goodrich and Miss Basketball Tania Davis on Friday night in a 7:50 p.m. semifinal at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Pitts, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, had six steals during the pivotal second half, helping Country Day force 20 turnovers after Divine Child coughed up the ball just once during the entire first half.

Country Day led 9-6 after one quarter and increased the lead to 17-10 before Divine Child pulled even at halftime with a 7-0 run, led by Riley Blair’s two inside baskets and a 3-pointer by Kelsee Kinder.

Country Day opened up the second half with a 10-0 run with freshman guard Kaela Webb making a three-pointer from the right corner, then forcing numerous turnovers and turning them into transition baskets — two from senior guard Jordan Wright — to open up a 27-17 lead. The Yellowjackets led by as many as 14 (39-25) with 31/2 minutes left.

“In the second half we turned it up a lot,” said Pitts, who scored 19, with Webb finishing with 20. “Since the playoffs we’ve been playing tremendous defense in the second half, and our goal was to turn it up and make sure we didn’t allow what they did in the first half and hurt us. We tried to stop 22 (Blair) because she was getting the ball a lot and that’s basically their whole offense.”

Pitts had high praise for Country Day 6-3 sophomore center Tylar Bennett.

“She’s a huge influence on us because if they do break our press they have to come down to her and she’s like 6-foot-4 and that’s intimidating for anyone to come down and she gets a lot of blocks that way.”

Bennett didn’t score, but had eight rebounds and six blocks.

Divine Child coach Mary Laney felt good going into halftime with her team even and feeling the ball would start going into the basket after a bad shooting half (7-for-27, 26 percent).

“I thought our shots would start to fall,” Laney said. “I was fairly confident. They (Country Day) are a great team with a few phenomenal players. I thought if we could contain Webb and Pitts we’d be all right and our shots would fall.

“I was confident we’d start shooting better and then we decided to pass over the top and then didn’t come to the ball a couple of times. We just didn’t execute and give credit to their defense. Their pressure took us out of our offense and they changed our shot a few times. We weren’t shooting the ball confidently. We haven’t shot this poorly in a long time. We shot 23 percent and we haven’t done that in months.”

When told Blair, a 5-11 senior guard, made 6-of-12 shots, finishing with 18, Laney replied: “She had to work hard for everything she got.”

Pitts is thrilled to get a trip to Breslin to play for a state championship.

“This has been our main goal,” Pitts said. “We’ve been saying this for a while and we finally did it.”

Yes, it has been a long time since Country Day last played at Breslin, competing in three straight championship games (2008-10), winning titles in ’08 and ’09 before losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central on the final trip.

In fact, Laney held the Class B state championship trophy in 2011, a reason she was devastated Tuesday night, not getting another shot at the title.