by BRYAN EVERSON
Some games in basketball are ones of runs. The conclusion of Friday night’s Class A district title game at Utica was not such a contest.
Utica Eisenhower traded blows with Rochester Adams in a fourth quarter that saw neither side create much separation on the scoreboard, but Ike came up just short, falling 50- 46.
“This is a tough one,” Eisenhower coach Mike Satawa said. “I told the girls we left everything we had on the floor.”
The Eagles were unfortunately done in at the free-throw line, where they were able to knock down just 8- of-21 (38 percent), compared to 11-of- 14 for Adams.
“We left points out there,” Satawa said. “I’m not sure what we were from the free throw line, but I know it wasn’t real good. I don’t know if that was fatigue, I don’t know if it was nerves. I don’t really know what it was. Sometimes you just don’t make shots.”
An 11-1 spurt by the Highlanders (8-14) provided them an eight-point lead at halftime, but Ike regrouped and battled back after the break. Ike eventually was able to wrestle the lead away from Adams late in the third quarter thanks to dribble penetration that opened up a corner 3-pointer by senior guard Olivia Gulyas.
Eisenhower carried a two-point advantage into the final eight minutes, where nearly the entire the remainder of the game the two teams would be separated by a single possession. The difference for much of the final quarter ended up being Adams senior Ryian Owusu, who finished with a game-high 23 points. Owusu was able to connect on a trio of 3-pointers in the fourth, the last of which tied the game at 46-all with 2:30 left.
Satawa noted the job that another of his seniors, Alexus Smith, did limiting Maggie Rogers, Adams’ leading scorer, but praised the effort of Owusu.
“She went off tonight,” Satawa said. “I watched four games of theirs and she didn’t play like that. I knew she was athletic, that she could get to the basket and everything, but that was quite a performance that she put on.”
Adams senior Hannah Simard split a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left, and after several opportunities slipped away from the free-throw line and from the field, she knocked down another pair with 20 seconds remaining. Two more chances presented themselves to prolong the game, including a 3-point attempt, but each was off the mark.
Eisenhower finishes the season 14- 8, and despite a solid core returning next season that includes Lauren DeBeau, Paige Montreuil and Malynn Kosnik — a trio that combined for 27 points in the defeat — Satawa expressed the emotion for the seniors the Eagles graduate.
“That’s right now the biggest thing for me, the fact that those seniors played their last game tonight,” he said. “We do have a lot coming back. You hope these are learning experiences…we’ll move on, but this is going to sting for a little bit.”
Chippewa Valley and Utica also both had their seasons end in district play, while Dakota scored a 53-33 victory over Romeo to win its district. The Cougars also were victorious over Waterford Kettering on Tuesday, winning 42-35 behind 18 points from Tara Bieniewicz, and will search for a first regional championship in program history Thursday against Fenton.
The big victory that set the table for Dakota came last Wednesday in a 58-53 district semifinal win over Port Huron Northern, who entered the game with a 17-3 record and a top 10 ranking in Class A. Bieniewicz also captained the scoring effort in that game with 18 points, followed by 13 from freshman forward Cameron Grant.