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The Allen Park girls' basketball team celebrated its first district championship in 18 years on Friday night. Photo by Jake Newby

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Allen Park shuts down Dearborn to claim district championship PHOTO

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The Lady Jaguars played their brand of basketball all week long - protecting the ball, playing hard-nosed defense, and getting to the free-throw line - and as a result, they can now call themselves district champions.

Allen Park never trailed on Friday night, beating the Dearborn girls’ basketball team by a final score of 45-30 to win the district title.

They’ll move on to regionals, which begin next week in Gibraltar.

“The girls had a goal since before the season started to win districts and they did it,” said Allen Park Coach Chuck Perez. “We told them it was up to them and after a tough week they played a real tough game tonight.”

Sophomore Erin Fish set the tone for Allen Park, playing hard down low and finding space to operate in the paint offensively. She scored six points and grabbed two rebounds in the first quarter.

On the defensive side of the ball, Allen Park shut Dearborn down the entire first half.

The Pioneers managed only four points in both the first and second quarters and couldn’t seem to get into any sort of offensive rhythm.

“We had a few opportunities on offense, it was just one of those nights where we couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” said Dearborn Coach John Cialone. “We couldn’t take advantage of those opportunities and we gave up some easy baskets in transition. We didn’t rebound the ball very well, either.”

The Jags outrebounded Dearborn 16-11 in the first half and that was part of the reason why they took a 19-8 lead into the intermission.

Sophomore Aly Kubik fought hard down low on the defensive glass all night long for Allen Park, grabbing five of those rebounds in the first half. She finished with nine in the game to tie for the team-lead.

“Aly makes our defense go,” Perez said. “She doesn’t get all the stats but she helps the other girls get stats. She does a lot of the dirty work that doesn’t get noticed in the paper, but the coaches notice it.”

The Jaguars seemed determined to attack the basket in the second half. They made six trips to the free-throw line and scored seven points there in the third quarter. But most importantly, they got Dearborn into the penalty late in the third quarter.

“When you’re behind by as much as we were, you have to take chances,” Cialone said. “We tried to kick it up a notch defensively and tried some different things but nothing seemed to go our way tonight. They’re a very good team.”

In the fourth quarter the Pioneers finally started to get into a groove on the offensive end, however they were down by 18 points once the frame began, leaving them with a mountain to climb.

Sarah Faraj and Alexa Al scored four points apiece in the fourth for Dearborn, and the Pioneers outscored Allen Park as a team, 14-11, in the final frame.

But the Jags stayed composed and were able to score seven more points from the free-throw line down the stretch, which helped them hold Dearborn off.

Cialone said he was proud of his team for refusing to give up and believes the future is bright in Dearborn.

“We’ve got a lot of young talent. We had six freshmen that played either on the varsity or the JV team this year,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good up-and-coming team and I’m already looking forward to getting started next season.”

Dearborn finishes their season with a 16-7 record.

Faraj, Al and freshman Sydnie Bruce each scored six points apiece in the losing effort for the Pioneers. Ibtesam Mustafa led her team in rebounds in every game of the district tournament. She snagged eight on Friday.

Erin Fish paced Allen Park with 20 points in the win. Kubik and senior Casey Bowdell each pulled down nine rebounds.

The Jags will take on either Romulus or Westland-John Glenn in the first round of the regional tournament on Tuesday night in Gibraltar-Carlson.

Last Updated: 3/4/2014 2:17:13 PM EST