Cousino's title defense ends one game short in 52-36 loss to Flushing in state semifinal
By Mike Moore
Posted March 17, 2017
EAST LANSING — A familiar place, but a very unfamiliar position.
One year after storming to East Lansing and exiting with a Class A state championship, the Warren Cousino girls basketball team had its title defense come to a screeching halt Friday afternoon in the semifinals, struggling on the offensive end all game in a 52-36 loss to Flushing High at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way the girls played today,” Flushing coach Larry Ford said. “They were true to themselves. They are very, very good at figuring out what we want them to do in terms of a game plan, and then they execute the game plan.”
“We’re sad it’s over,” Cousino coach Mike Lee said. “But it was a heck of a run.”
A run that included a 14-game playoff win streak over the past two years, and a 20-game win streak this season entering the semifinal.
But the Patriots were out of sync from the start.
Flushing led 19-10 after the first quarter and 33-20 by halftime.
Cousino never seriously threatened the lead the entire second half, and the offense was the culprit.
The 36 points scored was a season low.
Cousino shot 12 of 55 from the field (22 percent) and made just one 3-pointer in 16 attempts.
“Ouch,” Lee said with a smile about the shooting statistics. “We never found a rhythm. We got out of it. We never really got comfortable and trailed from the beginning. At some point, they they wanted it so much they started to tense up and not move. Credit where credit’s due. Flushing came at us all night.”
“It all starts with defense for us,” Ford said of his team. “I thought our defense was very, very good today for the whole game. I thought we took Cousino out of the stuff they like to do.”
While Flushing’s defense hounded Cousino, the Raiders’ offense was findind good looks — and good makes — possession after possession.
“We had watched six games on film. We knew enough about them,” Lee said. “Everything we saw on tape we had a plan for. We just didn’t execute.”
The come-back attempt in the second half didn’t get any breaks when senior Kierra Fletcher, the team’s only offensive threat, was injured.
Fletcher stayed down for roughly three minutes before leaving the game.
She returned a few minutes later, but her performance — 30 points and seven rebounds — wasn’t enough.
Lee was asked if he was surprised at how well Flushing played despite nobody on the Raiders having ever reached this point in the postseason.
“I don’t know if that really helps you,” Lee said of the experience of playing at the Breslin Center. “Sometimes, what you don’t know, you’re better off. The excitement of the (first time playing there) is different.”
Breanna Perry led Flushing with 16 points and seven rebounds. Lauren Newman scored 14, while Shelby Morrow added 13.
The Raiders (23-3) have never played for a state championship before.
Fletcher, who shot 11 of 26 from the field and 7 of 9 from the free-throw line, got a standing ovation when was removed from the game for the final time with 30.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
“Feel a lot of pride,” she said afterwards. She scored 27 in last year’s win. “We didn’t end the season exactly the way we wanted to, but I wouldn’t have written this any other way. Last year, what we did was amazing. I think it’s even more amazing this year that we got back, because a lot of people thought last year was a fluke. … What we’ve accomplished these past two years was amazing.”
Mackenzie Cook was Cousino’s second-leading scorer with three points.
Cousino closes its season with a 24-3 final record.
The Patriots are 47-7 over the past two years.
“What these girls have done for Cousino is amazing,” Lee said. “The community, the outreach, I can’t say enough about them.”
About the author
Sports Writer Mike Moore covers a variety of sports in Oakland County and the Detroit Catholic League. Mike joined C & G Newspapers in 2006 shortly after graduating from Albion College where he played football. He attended Dearborn Divine Child where he met his wife Jennifer. They have four sons together and reside in Dearborn.
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