Grand Rapids – Miss Basketball finalist Moira Joiner had a triple-double to help defending state champion Saginaw Heritage play over its 21 turnovers and defeat Wayne Memorial 58-55 in a Division 1 state semifinal Friday at Van Noord Arena.
And with Shine Strickland-Gills (Central Michigan) in foul trouble, Joiner had to help break the press and trap, and also get in and fight for rebounds.
Strickland-Gills, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, picked up two fouls in the opening quarter, had three by halftime and picked up her fourth with 3:47 left in the third, sending her to the bench with Heritage holding a 36-32 lead. Wayne’s pressure forced a dozen second-half turnovers.
“It’s no secret that our calling card is pressure, but we were playing against a championship-caliber team and they answered the call,” said Wayne coach Jarvis Mitchell, whose team came back from a 13-point (24-11) second-quarter deficit to take a 45-43 lead on a Sammiyah Hoskin layup off a steal with 5:50 left.
Joiner, who will play at Michigan State, certainly answered the call, scoring six the rest of the way, including a 3-pointer for a 48-45 lead with 4:50 remaining and two free throws with 21 seconds left for a four-point (56-52) cushion.
Joiner had seven turnovers, but finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while making Wayne standout guard Jeanae Terry (Illinois) work for every one of her 26 points (9-of-25 shooting, 5-of-12 3-pointers).
Heritage – 24-2 and ranked No. 6 in The Detroit News Super 20 – will play No. 2 Southfield A&T (24-1) in Saturday’s 12:15 p.m. state title game. The teams played in the opening weekend of the season in December with Heritage winning by 2.
“She’s definitely a great player,” said Joiner of Terry. “I tried to stay in front of her the best I could and get a hand up and alter her shot.”
But it was in the second half when Joiner knew she would have to fight through fatigue and start rebounding with Strickland-Gills (15 points, 12 rebounds) on the bench for seven minutes. Strickland-Gills returned with five minutes left and the game even at 45, with Joiner knocking down the 3-pointer seconds later.
“Shine’s a huge part of our team obviously, and with her out you could tell right away we were struggling a little bit with it (rebounding), so my job was to get on the glass more and lead my team,” said Joiner, who had eight of her 10 rebounds during the final two quarters.
She played the entire 32 minutes against Wayne’s full-court pressure.
“It was during the third quarter and when I saw Terry coming down the floor it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get through this, my legs are cramping,’” said Joiner. “I had to push through it.”
Heritage coach Vonnie DeLong was not surprised by Joiner’s performance.
“We’ve been knowing about that for four years with Mo, the versatility and the fact she plays every position on the floor, guards the best player, rebounds and gets assists,” said DeLong of Joiner. “She’s extremely good, has a high basketball IQ and that enables her to do as well as she does.”
Heritage led 16-8 after one, 26-20 at halftime and 40-37 after three before Wayne forced several turnovers in the fourth quarter to take that 45-43 lead on Hoskin’s layup.
Still, Heritage was able to pull out the victory due to Joiner’s heroics.
Strickland-Gills stepped up and made shots while her teammates and Wayne were missing theirs in the first half. She made 5-of-6 shots from the field to help Heritage take an 18-11 lead midway through the second quarter while her teammates (2-of-16) and Wayne (4-of-24) combined for 6-of-40 shooting.
Then, Joiner made a baseline jumper for a 20-11 lead and Mallory McCartney (10 points) followed with a pair of free throws, then having Keyonie Champion score inside to cap off an 8-0 run to give Heritage its largest lead at 24-11 with 2:20 left in the half.
“We’re used to being able to press you and get steals quickly and once we weren’t getting our steals then mental fatigue plays in, and we’re changing our game involuntarily,” said Mitchell of the first-half struggles, when Wayne shot 20.7 percent (6-of-29 shooting) and forced just nine turnovers, just one more than it had committed.
Hoskin had 14 points and seven rebounds for No. 4 Wayne (24-3) which shot 31.3 percent for the game, 33.3 percent from 3-point range (7-of-21).
At Van Noord Arena, Calvin College
Saginaw Heritage 58, Wayne Memorial 55
Southfield A&T 54, Muskegon 50
Final: 12:15 p.m. Saturday
Freeland 71, Hamilton 66
Detroit Edison 70, Haslett 43
Final: 6:15 p.m. Saturday
Flint Hamady 42, Lake City 33
Pewamo-Westphalia 37, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep 33
Final: 4 p.m. Saturday
St. Ignace 48, Kingston 44
Adrian Lenawee Christian 57, Fowler 36
Final: 10 a.m. Saturday