Walled Lake Western's Brooke Schwandt (42) is surrounded by Waterford
Kettering's (from left) Shelby Watts (12), Gabrielle Jerome (33) and
Lauren Tewes (34) during their game at Walled Lake Western High School,
Tuesday January 29, 2013. (The Oakland Press Photo/VAUGHN GURGANIAN)
Basketball - Girls
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Kettering ties up KLAA North with win at Western WITH VIDEO
Walled Lake Western's Maddie Schram (3) steals the ball from Waterford
Kettering's Taylor Steinhelper (13) during their game at Walled Lake
Western High School, Tuesday January 29, 2013. (The Oakland Press Photo/VAUGHN GURGANIAN)
Walled Lake Western's Jayla Nichols (33) looks to pass while guarded by
Waterford Kettering's Sarah O'Connor (3) during their game at Walled
Lake Western High School, Tuesday January 29, 2013. (The Oakland Press Photo/VAUGHN GURGANIAN)
Walled Lake Western's Alexis Vercellino (4) makes a pass while closely
guarded by Waterford Kettering's Haley Tewes (50) during their game at
Walled Lake Western High School, Tuesday January 29, 2013. ((The Oakland Press Photo/VAUGHN GURGANIAN)
WALLED LAKE — Rumors of Waterford Kettering’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
While the two-time defending champions of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association’s North Division had to spend three weeks in the unaccustomed position of looking up at an opponent in the standings, they’re back in their usual spot after Tuesday night.
The Captains (11-1, 6-1 KLAA North) went into Walled Lake Western’s gym and avenged their only loss of the season, beating the Warriors (10-3, 6-1) by a surprisingly healthy margin, 46-37, putting the two teams in a first-place tie atop the divisional standings.
“I don’t look at it as revenge, I look at it as opportunity. Opportunity for us to get better. That’s really what we look at. When we play the way we can play, we can play with people. Sometimes, we don’t play as good as we can, and we’ve still got to find a way to fight through it,” said Kettering coach Scott Woodhull, who saw his team do just that in Tuesday’s fourth quarter.
“Revenge is, to me, not critical. It’s about playing better, and getting better all the time.
“Made them (the Captains players) feel good, though.”
Getting payback for a 43-42 home loss to the Warriors — one that snapped their three-season win streak in divisional games — was mighty sweet.
“It was amazing. It felt so good. We were coming out here, we were amped up, we were ready to go. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We lost to them by one point, and out of all the chances back and forth in a basketball game, it’s crazy that it can come down to one point. So we came out here knowing that we were going to prove the team that we really are,” said senior Shelby Watts, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
“We knew that a lot of people were doubting us this year, with having lost so many seniors, but we knew we could come out (and do it again). We got a bunch of new talent on the team, and our chemistry this is very good, and we’re able to work together just as well as last year. Yeah, we lost five or six girls, but we gained just as many, and we’re still as strong off the bench, and strong on the court all around.
“And people that doubted us,” she continued, gesturing toward the scoreboard, “it just goes to show, we’re still the same team, and we’re still out here to win.”
Now in a dead heat after splitting the season series, the two teams have three more divisional games to settle the regular-season crown, before the start of the KLAA tournament. Kettering visits cross-town rival Waterford Mott, hosts Lakeland, then finishes at Walled Lake Northern, while Western plays at Walled Lake Central, hosts Northern, then finishes at Lakeland.
For the Warriors, the realization that they’re still in first place has to replace any disappointment about potentially having to share.
“That’s what I told them afterwards, I said, ‘We can do one of two things: We can come back, and refocus tomorrow, and get ready for the next three division games, or we can let this go into a tailspin.’ That’s obviously not the way we want to go. We’ve got three teams, they’re obviously not going to be easy. Just take them one at a time, and see if we can end up 9-1 at the end,” said Dave Walther, who doesn’t have any players who’ve been through this particular type of pressure before.
“They were pretty fired up for today. It’s hard not to look ahead to other things, you know. We’ve been sitting on top all year, and trying to keep them focused, and see the big picture, it’s tough. ... They haven’t been in this situation before, so it’s tough to keep them focused.”
It looked like the Captains may have been the more fired up to start, as they rattled off the game’s first six points before Western reacted. But the Warriors would answer, cutting it to just a three-point deficit by the end of the first.
The lead would change hands four times in the second quarter, then twice more in the third, before the Captains would begin to pull away.
A 3-pointer by Gabrielle Jerome, another by Taylor Steinhelper, and a three-point play by Watts with 1:18 left in the third got the momentum shifted back to Kettering, and the Captains kept it that way, limiting Western to just three points in the fourth quarter.
It was messy both ways, though, as the Captains — sitting on a 39-34 lead — turned the ball over on their first four possessions of the fourth.
“Not pretty, but effective. We got the job done, but there are times where you’ve just got to be able to handle the ball, and move it around, and force them to come out and guard you, and we’re still — on the floor — young enough to where we don’t get that.
They were all rushed, offensively. ... We have to figure it out — and we will, hopefully. We’ve got eight more games to get it done,” said Woodhull, whose team turned the ball over 25 times. “Twenty-five is a lot. We’ve been averaging about 12. But, like I say, sometimes we get in a race, in a hurry, and both times we played them, it was trying to beat them too fast, rather than make them come to us. Did I think we’d win by nine? No. Not with 25 turnovers.
“I like playing at a fast pace. I’d prefer to play at a fast pace, but you still have to make your decisions. We made young passes.”
With leading scorer Jayla Nichols (12 points) on the bench in the final minutes with leg cramps, and Brooke Schwandt, Erickah Woods and Maddie Schram all ending up on the wrong side of the officials’ whistles, the Wariors just ran out of options, though.
“We were looking for all kinds of answers, and trying to get someone else to step up, and we just didn’t execute down the stretch like we wanted to. We’d done a pretty good job of executing all year, and — give credit to (the Captains’) defense, they played tough defense, and took us out of our game a little bit,” Walther said. “And we lost a little composure down the stretch.”
Email Matthew B. Mowery at email@example.com.WATERFORD KETTERING 46, WALLED LAKE WESTERN 37
KETTERING — Shelby Watts 5 (1) 3-3 16; Lauren Tewes 2 4-6 8; Ali Shaner 0 1-2 1; Taylor Steinhelper 3 (1) 2-2 11; Gabrielle Jerome (1) 0-0 3; Julia Kroll 1 (1) 0-2 5; Haley Tewes 1 0-0 2; Alicia Hepler 1 0-0 2; Totals 12 (4) 10-15 46.
WESTERN — Jayla Nichols 4 (1) 1-2 12; Maddie Schram 1 1-4 3; Shelby Turnquist 1 (2) 0-1 8; Brooke Schwandt 1 1-1 3; Erickah Woods 3 0-0 6; Alexis Vercellino 2 1-2 5; Totals 12 (3) 4-10 37.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
WK 14 11 14 7 — 46
WLW 11 10 13 3 — 37
Records: Western 10-3, 6-1 KLAA North; Kettering 11-1, 6-1
JV: Kettering won.