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GIRLS’ DISTRICT BASKETBALL: Dearborn downs Lincoln Park, advances to semis

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They didn’t play their best game of basketball this season but luckily for Coach John Cialone, the Dearborn girls’ basketball team didn’t have to.

The Pioneers controlled the paint and made more plays than the Lincoln Park Lady Railsplitters in Allen Park on Monday night, ousting them by a final score of 44-26.

Dearborn will now move on to take on Fordson in the district semifinals.

“We didn’t seem like we were mentally ready to play tonight,” Cialone said. “We haven’t played in a week so I’m hoping the long layoff had something to do with our performance.”

In the opening quarter the Pioneers managed to score just nine points, however they held Lincoln Park to only three.

Dearborn seemed to settle down a bit in the second quarter, letting the game come to them and getting their bench into an offensive rhythm. Five different players scored for the Pioneers in the second quarter including two freshmen - Sydnie Bruce and Isabelle Clark - who contributed eight combined second-quarter points.

The Railsplitters, meanwhile, couldn’t get out of their own way. Turnovers - most of the traveling variety - plagued Lincoln Park throughout the first half.

Lincoln Park Coach Shaun Thacker said the turnovers were costly, but he didn’t think they were the primary problem for the Railsplitters.

“They were beating us back on the floor and defensively we weren’t playing very hard,” Thacker said. “We can live with some of the mental mistakes and things like that but the effort is non-negotiable around here. We have to play with great effort every time out there.”

Dearborn took a 26-11 lead into halftime but struggled to put their foot on Lincoln Park’s throat in the third quarter, missing shot after shot to start the half.

By the time the third quarter was halfway over, each team had only scored one field goal apiece.

Dearborn did, though, crash both the offensive and defensive glass hard in the second half. They outrebounded Lincoln Park 15-8 in the third and 27-13 in the second half overall. Their effort on the glass held a more focused Lincoln Park team at bay in the second half.

“We did a decent job of rebounding and controlling the paint and I thought that kind of held their offense down a bit,” Cialone said. “We ended up only giving up 26 points. So anytime we hold our opponent to 26 points we got a chance to win the ball game. So that’s one thing we had going for us in an otherwise mediocre effort.”

The Pioneers scored only five points in the third quarter but managed 14 in the fourth, while holding Lincoln Park to only six points in the final frame.

Thacker said he was disappointed in his team’s performance after they played well late last week.

“We won on Friday against Jefferson. We played our best game of the year so I was hopeful coming into tonight,” he said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well and that kind of killed us. After a bad first half we got some stops in the second half, but just couldn’t get buckets when we needed to.”

The Railsplitters finished up their season with an overall record of 4-16. Thacker said the team has made slow but steady improvement since he arrived as head coach, and he hopes to see that trend continue into 2015.

“Before I took over they hadn’t won a game in two years then last year we won two and this year we won four,” Thacker said. “But we have a lot of juniors and sophomores so we’re hoping to be competitive and double that win total, at least, next season.”

Paige Llanes didn’t shoot with much efficiency for Lincoln Park, but she did lead the team in scoring with 10 points in the loss. Olivia McKinney scored nine points to go along with nine boards.

Brittney Malewski scored seven points for the Pioneers and Sarah Faraj and Batoul Khanafer chipped in with six points apiece. Ibtesam Mustafa controlled the glass, pulling down 13 rebounds in the win.

On Wednesday, Dearborn will lock up with Fordson in the district semifinals. The winner of that game will play the victor of the Allen Park vs. Crestwood matchup.

Last Updated: 2/24/2014 10:32:19 PM EST