Hartland — It’s rare when a team prevents its rival from making a field goal in the first half, unheard of when it comes in a league championship game before a standing-room-only crowd.
But, that’s exactly what Hartland — 19-1 and ranked No. 5 in The News Super 20 poll — did Thursday night in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship game against rival and No. 7 Brighton (17-3), going on to earn a thrilling 32-30 victory on Amanda Roach’s two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining.
“I knew when I missed it (front end of a 1-and-1 with 4.8 seconds left) I knew we had to get it back and somehow they fouled me and I got back to the line and made both of them,” said Roach, who finished with 14 points, eight coming in the fourth quarter when Hartland had to rally from a 28-21 deficit.
“It’s an amazing feeling. This is the best defense we’ve played all year. We knew we had to lock down. We held them to five points in the first half and we’re proud of that.”
The teams are familiar with each other, splitting the two games in the KLAA West Division with Hartland defeating Brighton 36-33 last week, again on its home floor, with Madi Moyer making a 3-pointer in the final seconds for the difference to claim the division championship.
Hartland and Brighton could play a fourth time, but that would take place in the Division 1 semifinals next month at Breslin Center.
Well, Moyer scored off a putback to open the scoring in the league title bout and Hartland’s man-to-man defense gave Brighton little room to operate.
Hartland led 7-2 after one quarter, forcing seven turnovers while Brighton missed all 10 of its shots from the floor.
Hartland extended its advantage to 18-5 at halftime with Brighton going 0-for-16 for the half while turning the ball over 13 times.
While Brighton was sloppy at times, the miscues were mostly caused by Hartland’s guards getting in the passing lanes while Hartland also displayed great help defense, including a steal by 6-foot-2 sophomore Lauren Sollom late in the half.
Still, Hartland only shot 25% from the field in the first half (6-of-24), allowing Brighton to stay relatively close.
Then, Brighton came out in the second half and dominated the third quarter, forcing seven turnovers while making three 3-pointers, including a pair by Elaine Halonen to take a 24-21 lead.
Brighton built the lead to 28-21 on a hook shot by Bowling Green-bound center Sophie Dziekan (seven points, 13 rebounds) before Roach brought Hartland back.
Roach, a 5-7 sophomore guard, scored six during a 9-0 run to give Hartland a 30-28 lead, making a free throw and then a 3-pointer to pull within 28-25 with 4:09 left, then driving the lane and dumping a pass off to 6-1 junior Lillie Gustafson to pull even at 28.
It was Roach’s transition basket off a steal by Syd Caddell to end a 9-0 run.
But, it was Roach’s steal that proved to be the difference in the final 20 seconds.
First, Brighton had the ball with 17 seconds left and the score tied when Roach stole the ball in the corner. She was fouled, missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but then stole the ball again and got fouled.
This time, Roach stepped to the line and made both free throws.
Brighton advanced to the KLAA championship by avenging last year’s loss in the title game to Wayne by ending Wayne’s 45-game KLAA winning streak in the league semifinal Monday, 49-38.
The championship game marked the 11th time that Michigan-bound center, 6-foot-4 Miss Basketball finalist Whitney Sollom of Hartland, went up against Sophie Dziekan.
And, now Sollom (three points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) holds an 8-3 edge … with a little help from her teammates.
More girls basketball
Allen Park 42, New Boston Huron 28: Julia Marpin had 15 points and Mia Nightengale had 11 points for Allen Park (9-11). New Boston Huron is 6-14.
Clarkston 51, Royal Oak 43: Taylor Heaton had 27 points for Clarkston (16-4, 9-3 OAA Red). Sarah Soraghan had 19 points and Kira Vance had 10 points and eight rebounds for Royal Oak (9-11, 3-9).
Garden City 42, Allen Park Cabrini 41: Siena McNitt had 17 points for Garden City (12-8). Mary Schantz had 14 points for Cabrini (9-9).
Grosse Pointe North 57, Harper Woods Regina 30: Christina Braker scored 16, Maddie Kohler 13 and Annabel Ayrault 12 for North (14-6). Lauren Droska scored eight for Regina.
Grosse Pointe South 64, Detroit Country Day 36: Alexa Downie had 19 points, and Kamryn Richards and Sarah Rogers each had 12 points for South (16-4). Country Day is 2-17.
Riverview 64, Brownstown Woodhaven 37: Shannon McAlinden had 23 points for Riverview (13-7). Ella Pappas had 14 points for Woodhaven (12-7).
Rochester Adams 49, North Farmington 44: Ameria Erahank had 11 points for Adams (12-8, 7-5 OAA White). Sela Lelser had 13 points for North Farmington (11-9, 6-6).
Troy 46, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 28: Kendal Zeiter had 10 points with 10 rebounds, seven assists, and five blocks, and Athena Samson had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Troy (15-5). Justina Aynor had nine points for Notre Dame (4-16).
Girls basketball scores
Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard 45, Lansing Catholic 39
Auburn Hills Avondale 66, Troy Athens 40
Dearborn Divine Child 60, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 51
Detroit Renaissance 44, Farmington Hills Mercy 32
Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 46, Eastpointe 40
Novi 36, Dearborn Fordson 30
Riverview Gabriel Richard 40, Detroit Voyageur Prep 18
Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 42, Birmingham Groves 35
Utica 35, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 25
West Bloomfield 52, Bloomfield Hills 41
Boys basketball scores
Ann Arbor Greenhills 62, Waterford Lakes 53
Dearborn Henry Ford Academy 53, Pontiac Academy for Excellence 47
Eastpointe 63, St Clair Shores Lakeview 53