Utica, Sterling Heights, WarrenMarch 4, 2014
Sterling girls tops Cousino in regional semifinal
By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer
UTICA — The Sterling Heights High girls basketball team ran its win streak to 17 with a 53-46 win against Warren Cousino in a Class A regional semifinal March 4 at Utica High.
Cousino (17-7) trailed by as many as nine before tying the game at 42 with 3:55 left. That marked the first tie of the contest. Sterling Heights junior forward Sade Lemons ran off five straight points and senior Dayshia Vance sank two free throws to put the Stallions up 49-42 late.
"We had a rough time for a little while getting (Lemons) free," Stallions coach Rick Repicky said. "(Cousino) did a good job of taking her out of the game at times, but when they did switch and leave her open, Dayshia found her and she hit a couple of big shots."
Lemons, who finished with a game-high 22 points, also blocked a Cousino 3-point attempt with 1:11 to play and found sophomore Kendal Ring for a wide open layup to put her team up 51-44. Two Vance free throws made it 53-44 Sterling Heights with 33 seconds left to seal the win.
The Stallions (21-3) advance to take on Port Huron Northern in a regional final 7 p.m. March 6 at Utica High.
"I just know that my team needed me to step up," Lemons said. "We all work as a team, but I just know I have to get open and what I have to do when I get the ball."
"We just lost (Lemons)," Cousino coach Mike Lee said. "I don't know how you lose a girl who's one of Macomb County's best players. We didn't execute. We didn't know where their best people were at times. Credit to (Lemons). She hit some big shots when she was open."
Sterling Heights led the majority of the contest. Cousino closed the gap at the end of each quarter and entered the fourth down just three. The Patriots continued to battle after the loss of freshman guard Kierra Fletcher, who left the game with an injury with 4:07 left in the third and didn't return.
Fletcher finished with nine points.
"That was a big loss, but we still won the third quarter," Lee said. "It was a big blow, but we still had a shot. We didn't have time to sit and think about it. We had to play."
Vance tallied 16 points for Sterling Heights. Senior Alex Ruster led Cousino with 18 points.
The Stallions took two games from Cousino this season, including a 49-46 decision in a December meeting at Cousino.
"We believe in pressure defense. We've kind of stuck with that and mixed up the looks," Repicky said. "When you have a team like Cousino that has good, solid players like they do and a coach like they have, you can't give them the same look.
"When we got into things too long, they figured it out and it hurt us a bit. For us, the key was pressure and wearing them down and hoping we had the fresher legs to make the plays at the end, and that's what we did tonight."