Farmington Hills — Bella Dugas scored 21 and made just enough free throws down the stretch to help Farmington Hills Mercy defeat Birmingham Groves, 51-48, on Monday night to open up the state girls basketball tournament.
Dugas, a 5-foot-11 senior forward, scored nine during the fourth quarter.
Mercy made just 7-of-17 free throws during the final eight minutes with Dugas converting 5-of-10.
Mercy (18-3) will play North Farmington in a Division 1 district semifinal Wednesday night, following the Southfield A&T-Farmington game, which gets underway at 5:30.
Mercy battled back from a 38-34 fourth-quarter deficit when it put on fullcourt pressure, forcing multiple turnovers and scoring on transition baskets during a 10-1 run to open up a 44-39 lead with 2:35 left.
Still, Groves (18-3) had a chance to pull out the victory, but senior Sha Carter missed a 25-footer with 5 seconds left.
Carter had 22 points and 13 rebounds, going 10-of-11 on free throws. She scored 12 during the fourth quarter.
“We made sure to know where she was at all times,” Dugas said of Carter. “We made sure to talk on defense. We made sure to pass away from her on their press too. She was able to get past us a couple of times, but not a lot.”
Mercy coach Gary Morris thought Carter’s 3-point attempt was going through the basket.
“I tell you when, she let that long one go from my angle I thought it might go in,” Morris said. “We made just enough free throws to get by.
“I thought defensively we were really good. We tried to mix it up, tried to keep them off balance as best we could. I’m just really proud of our kids and the way they fought the entire game. We played most of the game with three freshmen on the floor and they stepped up.”
Mercy had freshmen step up, including 5-10 Julia Bishop who scored 13, making two 3-pointers. She had nine points during the third quarter. Freshman guard Alexis Roberts and 5-11 forward Ellie Tisko each scored four. Senior guard Jenna Schluter had nine points.
Carter, who averages 18.7 points, was limited to 11 field-goal attempts?
“We had talked about the possibility of gimmicking a little bit, but we kind of felt that we didn’t practice enough to do that,” Morris said. “The first thing on the board was know where No. 20 is at all times on offense and defense because on their press she’s a ball hawk.
“I thought one thing that we did, which was important, was handle their pressure and we got them out of their press for a long period of time.”
Senior Kayla Nelson scored nine for Groves, making two 3-pointers.
MORE GIRLS BASKETBALL
Dearborn Fordson 52, Livonia Franklin 22: Sarah Abdallah had eight points and 10 rebounds, and Rana Elhusseini had eight points and four assists for Fordson (19-2). Hannah Strasser scored five for Franklin (3-18).
Detroit Country Day 74, Center Line 29: Adrian Folks scored 21, Maddie Novak 13 and Maxine Moore 12 for Country Day (16-4).
Detroit Henry Ford 38, Detroit University Prep 34: Jamel Bufkin had 17 points for Ford (3-9). Diamond Arrington scored 10 for University Prep (9-10).
Detroit Jalen Rose Leadership 46, Dearborn Heights Star International 27: Danaeja Brown had 20 points and 10 assists, and Anaya Bouyer had 17 points for Jalen Rose (4-11).
Hartland 40, Brighton 35: Emily Messner and Whitney Sollom each had nine points for Hartland (16-5). Lauren Brown scored 12 for Brighton (14-7).
Livonia Stevenson 52, Redford Union 35: Sarah Tanderys scored 19 and Johnnae Steele 15 for Stevenson (7-14).
Madison Heights Lamphere 45, Clawson 40: Lauren Mexico had 19 points and Daija Ray 17 for Lamphere (10-11). Jennifer Evans scored 16 for Clawson (15-6).
St. Clair Shores Lakeview 31, St. Clair Shores Lake Shore 23: Seanna Saccone had 12 points and Lauren Wynn eight for Lakeview (20-1). Kara Wolfbauer scored eight for Lake Shore (6-15).
Sterling Heights 61, Warren Regina 50: Katie Shultz had 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, Brenna Kassab had 18 points, and Tatyana Hardwick had 13 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks for Sterling Heights (7-14). Regina is 7-12.
Trenton 47, Riverview 42: Therese Hebda had 21 points and Carolina Gorno 11 for Trenton (18-2). Samantha Dorn led Riverview (11-10) with 12 points.
Waterford Lakes 65, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 25: Tiffany Senerius scored 25, Kayla Sanders 16 and Catherine Weddle 11 for Lakes (16-4).
Canton 61, Ypsilanti Lincoln 37: Chase Meredith scored 20 and Vinson Sigmon 10 for Canton (18-1). Ypsilanti Lincoln is 11-8.
Livonia Franklin 56, Waterford Kettering 41: Mark Mettie had 31 points for Franklin (6-13). Kettering is 3-16.
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood 6, Troy 1
Brighton 6, Howell 2
Detroit Catholic Central 8, Northville 0
Jackson 10, East Lansing 1
Lake Orion 1, Oxford 0
Lowell 3, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix 2
Macomb Dakota 8, Port Huron 0
Macomb L'Anse Creuse North 4, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 0
Saginaw Heritage 8, Midland 1
Utica Eisenhower 5, Rochester Adams 0
Ann Arbor Pioneer 6, Ann Arbor Skyline 2
Grand Rapids Christian 7, Portage Central 1
Romeo 11, Lapeer 2
Allen Park 3, Dearborn Divine Child 1
Detroit Country Day 8, Walled Lake Western 0
Gibraltar Carlson 5, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 3
Livonia Churchill 4, Farmington 0
Milford 4, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 1
Riverview Gabriel Richard 5, Wyandotte Roosevelt 2
At Schuss Mountain in Bellaire, Houghton won the Division 2 championship, followed by Notre Dame, Harbor Springs, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, Petoskey, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, East Grand Rapids, Cadillac and Mount Pleasant.
At Schuss Mountain, Petoskey won the Division 2 crown, followed by Great North Alpine, Notre Dame, Benzie Central, Harbor Springs, Cadillac, Flint Powers Catholic, East Grand Rapids and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.
Detroit News staff contributed;