By Dave Fredrick
Tribune Recorder Leader
Intensity. The word itself is packed with emotion and determination. It was also the catalyst for both Sandusky and Marlette Friday night in the Class C district finals in Capac. Both sides fought to the end in the title game and when time had expired, clutch free throw shooting by Sandusky helped lift the Lady Reskins to their third consecutive district crown, defeating the GTC-East champs Marlette 38-32. The win marked the seventh district championship in the past nine years for Sandusky.
“They got us twice in the regular season, so our girls were really focused on playing hard and taking it to them,” said an elated Sandusky Coach Al DeMott after the award ceremony. “It’s always tough to beat a team three times, and this one is pretty special for us. It means we get to keep playing, and we beat a real good team. it’s always a battle between these two teams.”
Admitting they are all tough to get, Coach DeMott said win number 20 this year was a battle all the way, just as his squad expected. Sandusky is now 20-3 overall and advanced to this week’s regional on their home floor. They battled a talented Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest squad Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to the regional final Thursday night to take on either Flint Hamady or Madison Heights Madison.
Friday night, after falling behind on back-to-back Marlette buckets by Alissa Bradeen and Haley Cross, Sandusky got on the board when Jess Kursinsky nailed a long triple from the right wing at the 4:35 mark of the opening quarter. An Ally Blank baseline
jumper, a layup by Haley Nelson and Madysen Jansen’s short jumper sparked a 9-0 run to give the Lady Redskins the lead with 2:14 to play in the first. After Marlette narrowed the
gap to 9-7, Madison Armstrong his a hoop from just outside of the paint just before the buzzer leaving Sandusky in front 11-7.
Cross and Emily Schaub, two of Marlette’s leading scorers all season, six straight points to knot the game at 13-13 with 3:29 showing before halftime only to see Jansen bury one of her two triples on the night to keep her team in the lead. However, Schaub netted a triple of her own to tie the game at 18-18 and Caitlin Quade nailed a three ball with less than a minute to go to the break, propelling the Lady Red Raiders to a slim 21-18 lead at the intermission.
Morgan Klein pumped in a pair of buckets while Cross and Schaub hit free throws to give their team a 25-22 lead with 3:30 to play in the third quarter. Jansen responded by taking on the scoring duties for Sandusky, netting a three pointer and a short jumper at the buzzer to tie the game at 27-27 entering the final period.
Sandusky took the lead early in the fourth on a pair of Armstrong free throws and never trailed the rest of the way. Blank scored on a nice pass from Jansen for a 33-29 Sandusky lead with 3:01 left to play and then free throws down the stretch by Nelson, Armstrong and Jansen sealed the victory for the lady Redskins. Sandusky finished shooting 7 of 10 from the line in the fourth quarter and were 9 of 12 in the game.
“Marlette played great defense on us,” DeMott said when asked about his team’s struggles to maintain ball control in the first half. They also had several turnovers with ill-timed cross court passes that led to Marlette possessions.
Jansen led the winners with 14 points and Nelson (eight rebounds, four assists and four steals) scored nine. Blank added six points and Kursinsky had five points and seven rebounds. Cross tossed in 14 points for Marlette while Schaub was held to just six points.