Lutheran North girls basketball outlasts Regina in OT

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published January 23, 2020

 Warren Regina sophomore Grace Zdankiewicz, left, battles Lutheran North senior Arielle Cicchetti during a 43-41 overtime Lutheran North win Jan. 23.

Warren Regina sophomore Grace Zdankiewicz, left, battles Lutheran North senior Arielle Cicchetti during a 43-41 overtime Lutheran North win Jan. 23.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Both the Macomb Lutheran North and Warren Regina girls basketball teams entered a Jan. 23 matchup hoping for a change in fortune.

The Mustangs and Saddlelites had each dropped six straight coming into the contest, and both teams played like they were in need of a win.

Two free throws from Lutheran North junior guard Rachel McClelland with 9.8 seconds left in overtime lifted the Mustangs to a 43-41 win over Regina. The triumph moves Lutheran North to 5-6 overall and 1-5 in the Catholic High School League Central Division. The Saddlelites drop to 1-7, 0-6 CHSL Central.

“I knew we had to have this game,” said McClelland, who scored all 4 of her points at the foul line. “We’ve been struggling a bit recently, and we wanted to win tonight to get back on track. That’s all I was thinking about at the foul line.”

Regina sophomore forward Lauren Droska split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 41 with 1:01 left in the overtime. A Saddlelites 3-pointer at the buzzer fell right of the basket. Regina took a brief 40-38 edge with 2:08 left in the extra session on a layup by Droska, who netted nine points in the game.

Lutheran North led for much of the contest and was up 37-32 with less than a minute left in regulation. Regina junior Noelle Robinson hit a 3-pointer to cut the Lutheran North lead to 37-35 with 21.9 seconds left in the fourth. McClelland split a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to give her team a 38-35 edge. Following a Saddlelites timeout, Regina sophomore Reagan Stempin nailed a 3 to tie the game at 38 with 2.2 seconds left in regulation.

Lutheran North held the lead for the majority of the contest. Prior to taking the lead in overtime, the Saddlelites hadn’t led since taking a 6-5 edge early in the contest.

“We gutted this one out tonight,” Mustangs coach Andrea Avery-Tiedt said. “We’ve really struggled the last couple of weeks, because we play in a tough league. We lost three important players early in the season, so we’ve been working players into different spots. The girls showed a lot of fight tonight.”

Regina played valiantly in defeat. In the second half and overtime, the Saddlelites held Lutheran North to only three made field goals. The Mustangs went 10/20 from the line in that span.

Regina shot 7 of 20 at the line — 1 of 7 in the second half and overtime.

“Our defense has played well all year,” said Saddlelites coach Diane Laffey, with a roster that includes five sophomores and no seniors. “We’ve been struggling to score and we can’t hit our free throws, even though we work on them every day. 

“The girls fought, though. There’s no question the effort was there. We just have to finish.”

Mustangs juniors Julia Zauel and McClelland led all scorers with 12 points each. Zauel played all 36 minutes.

Regina sophomore guard Grace Zdankiewicz chipped in with 9 points.

Lutheran North’s next game is against Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at home.

Regina’s next tip is against Dearborn Divine Child at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at home.