Class C semifinals: Hamady holds off Arbor Prep rally
East Lansing — Flint Hamady turned aside an impressive comeback bid by Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Thursday afternoon at the Breslin Center, coming away with a 50-46 Class C semifinal win.
Hamady (26-1) led 33-17 early in the second half before Arbor Prep turned up the pressure defensively, forcing multiple turnovers to cut the deficit to two with just over two minutes remaining.
"That's Arbor Prep, that pressure is something different," said Hamady coach Keith Smith who guided Hamady to consecutive state titles in 2009 and '10. "I never thought that I would see the day that somebody would bring the same type of heat that we bring, but I have to give them props, they do a good job of bringing it.
"We kind of lost our composure a little bit and our main thing was we wanted to be patient with attacking their press. We didn't want to be scared with it, we wanted to attack it, but attack it with some patience. We kind of rushed it a few times early in the third quarter, but I feel like we finally regrouped and got it together, especially on our defensive end."
Arbor Prep (22-4), which defeated Class B powers Detroit Country Day and Grand Rapids Catholic Central, had no answers in an attempt to slow down Jalisha Terry and Aaliah Hill in the first half, trailing 31-17 at halftime.
"We didn't play with a lot of intensity in the first half," Arbor Prep coach Rod Wells said. "They beat us on the offensive boards and we didn't move our feet very well. It was like we were caught up in the moment and didn't have energy for whatever reason.
"We used a lot of energy to come back (during the second half). I think against a good team it's hard to come back from that type of deficit and come all the way back and complete it."
Arbor Prep failed to rattle Terry, the junior point guard, with its fullcourt pressure and halfcourt trap or stop Hill inside in the first half.
Hill, a 6-foot senior headed to Central Michigan, had a double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds), including six points in the opening quarter while getting Arbor Prep 5-11 senior post player Karlee Morris in foul trouble (three fouls).
"Karlee is our best rebounder and when she went out of the game with three fouls it definitely hurt us," Wells said. "She leads us in rebounds and is our inside presence. We're not a big team anyways and we definitely need her on the court. She's also at the top of our press and no one really brings the intensity like her in those situations."
Morris was limited to six points and five rebounds in 11 minutes.
Terry turned the ball over just two times in the opening half while helping Hamady build a 31-17 lead. She finished with 14 points, but had seven of her nine turnovers during the second half when Arbor Prep forced a dozen turnovers.
Hamady increased the lead to 16 early in the third before Arbor Prep starting forcing the turnovers, then turning them into transition baskets by junior guard Nastassja Chambers to pull within 34-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
Chambers finished with 14 points, but scored the bulk of her points in transition due to the outstanding defensive job on her by Hamady freshman Sasha Penn.
Chambers made 6 of 7 shots from the field, but only took one 3-point attempt and got to the line just four times, making two.
"They did a real good thing defensively," Wells said. "They face-guarded Payton Sims and Nastassja so they took away some of their opportunities to score. When we got it down to three I felt we had a chance to win it. I thought we had the momentum. They made some good plays and the ball rolled in for them and that's the way it goes."
Sims, who was scoreless through three quarters, made two 3-pointers in the fourth, her final one coming with 2:15 left to pull Arbor Prep to within 43-41, but Hill scored inside and Krystal Rice scored off a driving layup for a 48-42 lead with 40 seconds left.
Arbor Prep, which had its first senior class in program history, missed four of its final six shots and three of four free throws after Sims' final long-range shot.
Calumet 30, Laingsburg 26: Calumet made the most of its 8-1/2 hour trip from the Upper Peninsula, making the big plays in the fourth quarter to hand Laingsburg (26-1) its lone loss.
Clara Loukus, the smallest player on the court at 5-foot-1, made the biggest plays, first making a 3-pointer with three minutes left to open a 28-23 lead, then making two free throws with 8.9 seconds left for a 30-26 cushion after making a steal on an inside pass.
"Clara Loukus makes our team click," Calumet coach Jeff Twardzik said. "I could tell when it left her hand (that 3-pointer would go in). She calmed down and took the shot in rhythm.
"I told the assistant coaches I know she'll make them (free throws). … That's how she's built."
Loukus finished with 10 points, the lone player in the game in double figures.
Janie Torola, a 6-2 junior, had seven points and nine rebounds for Calumet (23-2), including multiple blocks during the final quarter.