Utica clamps down on Eisenhower

Chieftains rally past Eagles in second half

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 26, 2016

 Eisenhower's Nicole Meyer tries to get by Utica's Kim Wierzbicki during a MAC White game on Jan. 26.

Eisenhower's Nicole Meyer tries to get by Utica's Kim Wierzbicki during a MAC White game on Jan. 26.

Photo by Donna Agusti

There is a lot of season left, but the rivalry contest between Macomb Area Conference White Division co-leaders Utica High and Utica Eisenhower felt more significant than a normal midseason Tuesday night tilt.

After trailing by 10 at halftime, Utica turned to its pressure defense to outlast Eisenhower 34-30 to remain unbeaten in divisional play.

“When you press the way we do, which is every possession the whole game, you hope you can wear them down. I don’t know if we wore them down, but I think our effort and bounce was better, and our communication was better,” Utica coach Tom McDonald said of his team’s effort in the second half.

Eisenhower led 20-10 at halftime, but the Chieftains scored the first eight points after the break. Still trailing by five after the third, Utica held Eisenhower to three points in the fourth quarter.

Utica took its first lead since early in the first quarter with 3:15 to go in the game by way of a bucket from Kim Wierzbicki to make it 29-28. Jordan Bianchi iced the game at the line by making four free throws over the last 40 seconds of the game.

Eisenhower had a shot in the lane to tie the game at 32 with about 10 seconds left, but Bianchi secured the miss.

“After all that, we were down two, and we had the ball with 15 seconds to go. I thought we got a decent shot off, a running six or seven-footer, you can’t beat a better shot than that,” Eisenhower coach Michael Satawa said.

Natalie Suchoski scored all of her team-high nine points after halftime to lead Utica (8-4, 6-0).

“She (Suchoski) got very aggressive at the offensive end in the second half, and we challenged her a little bit to do that,” McDonald said. “She took the ball to the hole and made three or four really big shots for us.”

Nicole Meyer led Eisenhower with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Freshman guard Lauren DeBeau added eight points for the Eagles.

Eisenhower (11-2, 4-1) hosts Port Huron High Jan. 28, while Utica hosts Port Huron in its next game Feb. 2.