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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Harrison beats Andover to keep pace in OAA White race WITH VIDEO

Hawks play just enough of their pace to win, stay in sole possession of 2nd place

FARMINGTON — It’s all about keeping pace.

Of the two teams vying for second place in the Oakland Activities Association White Division, whichever one was able to establish and maintain its own pace in Tuesday’s head-to-head battle would be the one that would be able to keep pace with league-leading Oxford.

While Bloomfield Hills Andover, last year’s OAA Blue champ, managed to impose its slower pace for nearly 80 percent of the contest, the Barons weren’t able to maintain it for the entire 32 minutes, allowing two short spurts of Farmington Hills Harrison’s frenetic pace to slip in.

The Hawks used a 13-1 second-quarter run, coupled with a 7-2 run in the third to pull out a 51-45 win — their eighth straight victory — staying just a game behind Oxford for the league lead.

“It’s huge. We were one game behind Oxford going into it, and Andover was two. At this point, about halfway through the first round of games, to go two behind Oxford would’ve been ... that would’ve been huge,” said Harrison coach Tim Micklash, who can’t remember the last time Harrison (9-1, 6-1 White) started this quickly.

“We still control our own destiny at this point. Obviously, we’ve gotta keep playing well, and we’ve gotta keep winning. But we still control our own destiny. We don’t want to have to rely on other people to beat them.”

Oxford (7-1, 7-0) will visit Harrison in two weeks, a rematch of their Nov. 30 meeting, in which the Wildcats controlled the pace, slowing it down for a 30-27 win. That’s what it looked like it might become early, when Andover (5-3, 4-3) jumped out to an 8-0 lead, thanks to a couple of quick 3-pointers.

“Unfortunately today, we didn’t come out with that run in the beginning of the game, like we have. We came out a little flat today, and got down early. ... We always stress to the girls the first three minutes of the game, and we didn’t come out the way we wanted to,” Micklash said.

“We started to turn it on, and started to play our speed, our pace, started to cause some problems, and got ourselves back into it, which was big, going into the half.”

The Hawks were able to flip the switch just long enough to get themselves right back into a game that had been decidedly at Andover’s pace for most of the first half, taking a 23-22 lead into the break. Freshman Amber Stephens had 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including three buckets in the 13-1 run that changed the complexion of the game.

“We wanted to play at our tempo, without being in a rush. For about about 14 minutes in the first half, we did. We had about a two-minute span where, ‘BOOM,’ next thing you know, they’re up three points, because we played at their speed,” Barons coach Jeff Rubin said.

“Fourth quarter, I think we just didn’t realize what a close game it was. We were fouling the wrong players, which didn’t help, we were kind of loose with the ball on offense, not getting the ball where we wanted to. Played a little bit rushed. But that’s what Harrison does — they make you play their style of basketball. They make you really push the tempo, and play faster than what you want.”

That’s exactly what the OAA White’s highest-scoring team is trying to do to opponents: Frustrate, harass and harry. Make you beat yourself. It’s worked, too.

Coming in, the Hawks had won eight times by a margin of 31 points per game, but much of that was a factor of holding opponents to an average of just 21.9 points per game.

“That’s the whole — with what we’re trying to do, we want to try to get teams to go at a speed that they’re not capable of playing. Because oftentimes, that’s when they’re going to turn it over, that’s when they’re going to force shots that are low-percentage shots,” Micklash said.

“And, ultimately, a lot of those turnovers are offense created for us. With the athletes that we have, with the guards that we have, we feel like we can get out and run, but the key comes from our defense.”

The Barons stretched that defensive average out, but still couldn’t pull out a win.

After the second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter from Marissa Cotton (16 points) gave Harrison it’s biggest lead at the 3-minute mark of the fourth. Shannon Wilson (17 points) got to the line for two free throws with 43.8 seconds left, cutting it to six. Then, following a Hawks miss at the line, got a 3-pointer from Erika Hill (14 points) to cut it to three, 48-45 with 22.5 seconds left.

But Harrison closed it out from the line, going 7-for-11 on fourth-quarter free throws.

Home court will play a factor in the remainder of the OAA White race.

All three of Andover’s losses so far have come on the road — to Harrison, Rochester Adams and Oxford — while Harrison has played just three home games to date, and will get six of its next eight on its home floor.

“We knew the importance of this one. Obviously, this would’ve tied us in second. The one beneficial thing is that Harrison, Adams and Oxford all need to come to us still later in the year, and we’ve showed in all three games that we can play with them, and even hold a decent-sized lead against them,” Rubin said. “For us, it’s just playing a complete game, which we really struggled (doing), most of which I just attribute to the transition to this type of league. You have to play a complete game to win. Otherwise, you control the game for 80 percent, and all of a sudden, next thing you know, you still lose.”

Email Matthew B. Mowery at matt.mowery@oakpress.com and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery.



FARMINGTON HILLS HARRISON 51, BLOOMFIELD HILLS ANDOVER 45

ANDOVER
— Shannon Wilson 4 (2) 3-4 17; Erika Hill 1 (1) 9-11 14; Jamie Lederman 0 2-4 2; Rachel Rea 3 (2) 0-0 12; Totals 8 (5) 14-19 45.

HARRISON
— Katie Conrad 1 0-0 2; Marissa Cotton (3) 7-8 16; Amber Stephens 8 (1) 0-3 19; Asia Campbell 1 0-2 2; Kristen Nelson 2 6-6 10; Sydnee Bland 1 0-1 2; Totals 13 (4) 13-20 51.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

BHA 13 9 13 10 — 45

FHH 8 15 13 15 — 51

Records:
Andover 5-3, 4-3 OAA White; Harrison 9-1, 6-1

Last Updated: 1/9/2013 12:26:10 PM EST

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