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Romulus just too much for Jags to overcome PHOTO GALLERY

  • Hailey Lazarek (11) and the Allen Park Jaguars had a tough time handling Romulus in Tuesday's regional semifinals and saw their season end with a heartbreaking 51-23 loss. Photos by Dave Chapman

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Days after winning the team’s first district championship in 18 years, the Allen Park girls’ basketball team had a heartbreaking loss in the regional semifinals.

The Jags fell 51-23 to Romulus in Tuesday’s regional opener after an early deficit that was just too much to come back from.

Hailey Lazarek tied the game 2-2 a minute and a half into the contest but then the Jaguar shooting went cold.

The team didn’t score for almost a full quarter and a half and the Eagle offense just kept clicking as Allen Park struggled with shots and made some uncharacteristic mistakes.

“Early on a lot of our shots weren’t falling for us,” Allen Park Coach Chuck Perez said.

Perez said he it was a combination of mistakes on his team’s part and Romulus’s strong effort that decided the game.

“I think it was a little of both probably,” he said. “Maybe a little bit of nerves and a combination of their press.”

The Eagles led 12-2 after a quarter and 21-9 at the half. Romulus built its lead up to 19-2 before Erin Fish grabbed a rebound and took it down the court, scoring the Jags’ first basket in almost 13 minutes.

Casey Bowdell sunk a triple at the buzzer for the 21-9 halftime score.

The second half was a better one for Allen Park, but the hole was too much to dig out from, despite some changes.

We saw that our man was working a little bit better than our zone so we figured we’d come out on a man, but they were pretty much hitting everything,” Perez said. “I don’t think, no matter what we did, they were hitting.”

“We saw that our man was working a little bit

With 5:33 to play in the third, Arielle Gamble put up a field goal that put the Jags within 12 (23-11), but that was the closest the score would get.

Romulus led 33-15 after three quarters and outscored Allen Park 18-8 in the final outing for the win.

Bowdell led the team with eight points and four rebounds.

Lazarek finished with four points and six boards.

Despite the loss, Perez said he was proud of his team for fighting in the game and their successful season.

“They had a great season,” he said. “I haven’t had a team that worked this hard November through March so far.

“They have the strongest work ethic of any team that I have coached. I put that characteristic very high on our priority list each year (and) they showed up from November through March and worked hard every day at practice.”

With the loss, Allen Park will lose three seniors; Hannah Holder, Bowdell and Lazarek.

“We are losing three valuable seniors,” Perez said. “Casey’s leadership will be very hard to replace. Hailey is quiet but she works harder than anyone on that court. Hannah has improved more than anyone on the team.”

The Jags will return a strong core of players next fall and Perez says he will hold the returnees to a high standard.

“They have raised the bar by winning the district championship this season,” he said. “Coaches Bill Borg and Sara Perez have had a huge impact on the Allen Park high school basketball program.

“I am lucky to have both of them on the varsity staff.”

Last Updated: 3/5/2014 12:06:19 PM EST