Waterford our Lady of the Lakes’ Lexie Robak (24) moves around Bloomfield Hills Roeper’s Nadia Salma (12) during the first quarter of the MHSAA Class D district 104 game played on Friday March 1, 2013 at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian High School. WOLL defeated Roeper 44-40. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Basketball - Girls
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Our Lady of the Lakes survives scare against Roeper WITH VIDEO
Waterford our Lady of the Lakes’ Ava Doetsch (20) is closely guarded by Bloomfield Hills Roeper’s Sophia Savas (back) and Julie Pudar (24) during the fourth quarter of the MHSAA Class D district 104 game played on Friday March 1, 2013 at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian High School. The Lakers beat the Roughriders 44-40. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Jessica Perry (25) of Waterford our Lady of the Lakes looks to shoot as Bloomfield Hills Roeper’s Kiara Canales (3) moves in for the block during the first quarter of the MHSAA Class D district 104 game played on Friday March 1, 2013 at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian High School. WOLL defeated Roeper 44-40. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
Bloomfield Hills Roeper’s Nadia Salma (12) puts up a three point shot as Waterford our Lady of the Lakes’ Shelby Mann (4) moves out to defend during the second quarter of the MHSAA Class D district 104 game played on Friday March 1, 2013 at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian High School. Roeper lost to WOLL 44-40. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)
STERLING HEIGHTS — It’s a good thing basketball is played inside, because the Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes girls basketball team and its supporters would’ve added to the cold wind chill outside with the huge sigh of relief they blew on Friday night.
The Lakers and their fans nearly saw them dethroned, but the three-time defending Class D state champion WOLL is still alive and breathing following a 44-40 win over a gutty Birmingham Roeper squad in a Class D district final at Parkway Christian High School.
WOLL advanced to a regional that’ll start on Tuesday at Lansing Christian in what it hopes will be the first of two trips to the middle of the state in the next couple of weeks (the state’s final four would be the other).
But before worrying about regionals, the Lakers were thrilled to survive districts.
“It’s a sigh of relief,” WOLL head coach Steve Robak said. “They are a good team and we knew it was going to be a tough game. They did a lot of good things and I thought we responded.”
The Lakers seemed to be sailing along smoothly with a double-digit lead in the third quarter, but Roeper hung in there and closed its deficit to just five at 36-31 going into the fourth quarter.
Roeper then cut the WOLL lead to three at 40-37 with 2:59 remaining and the Lakers seemed out of sorts offensively.
At that point, WOLL decided to pull the ball out and kill as much clock as possible on each possession, succeeding until there was 1:14 left.
That was when an illegal screen was called on the Lakers and Roeper got the ball back and a chance to tie with a 3-point shot. But after a badly missed 2-point jumper by the Roughriders, the Lakers got the rebound.
Roeper was nowhere near the bonus yet had to spend the next 30 seconds fouling multiple times in order to get WOLL to the line, and that finally happened with 32.4 seconds remaining when WOLL senior Ava Doetsch stepped to the line for a one-and-one situation.
Doetsch made both to give WOLL a 42-37 lead, but Roeper closed to within 42-40 with 24 seconds left on a 3-point basket by senior Julie Pidar.
Doetsch was again fouled with 20.1 seconds left, but split a pair of free throws to give Roeper some life, trailing 43-40.
But Roeper took a rushed 3-point shot that missed badly, WOLL put the ball in the hands of Doetsch, and she essentially iced the game by hitting one out of two free throws with 8.3 seconds remaining to make the final score 44-40.
Even though Doetsch has been in many pressure situations playing on three state championship basketball teams and a state championship soccer team in her career, that didn’t lessen her nervousness at the free-throw line.
“I had no recollection of the past three years because this was now,” Doetsch said. “It was really nerve-wracking to me.”
Doetsch ended up scoring a game-high 15 points to lead the Lakers (17-4).
Pudar scored 10 points to lead Roeper, which finished 18-4.
“I was a little worried about the experience they had over us,” Roeper head coach Ernie Righetti said. “They have been in big games and I think it made a difference in the end. I think we panicked a little, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
With only two seniors leaving the team to graduation, next year’s outlook is bright for Roeper.
“I think we’ll gain a lot of confidence and experience,” Righetti said. “We’ll see what happens. We should have another good year next year, I think.”
E-mail Keith Dunlap at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @kd2578
WATERFORD OUR LADY OF THE LAKES 44, BIRMINGHAM ROEPER 40
WOLL — Shelby Mann 2 4; Ava Doetsch 2 (2) 5-7 15; Anna Robb 2 (1) 1-1 8; Lexie Robak 1 (2) 1-2 9; Jessica Parry 4 8; Totals: 11 (5) 7-10 44
ROEPER — Alyssa Flynn 1 2; Kiara Canales 1 (1) 2-2 7; Sophia Savas 1 2-2 4; Nadia Salma 2 (1) 7; Julie Pudar 2 (2) 10; Tori Farrow 1 4-4 6; Naomi Savas 1 2; Totals: 8 (4) 7-8 40
SCORE BY QUARTER
WOLL 11 17 8 8 — 44
R 9 12 10 9 — 40
RECORDS — WOLL 17-4; Roeper 18-4