by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor
The 2017-18 Lady Hurons (18-4) have now gone as far as any girls’ basketball team from Rogers City has ever gone. They won a first-round regional game, but made it exciting for the fans at the end in a 54-51 win over Frankfort.
“We are happy that we are moving on but know that we need to clean some things up. We had a chance to put that game to bed, but made some mistakes throwing the ball inbounds and not executing when we needed to. We executed pretty well early on but then we got away from it a little bit. We need to do that for four quarters on Thursday,” said coach Duane Pitts.
After giving up the first basket in Tuesday’s regional semifinal game in Grayling, Rogers City ran off the next 11 points, three coming on layups from Taylor Fleming alone with a 3-pointer from Sydney Purgiel and a bucket from Kayla Rabeau.
Rogers City never trailed, but nearly let the win slip away in the closing moments.
Frankfort trailed by as many as 10 points, after two Taylor Fleming baskets closed the third quarter with the Hurons leading 41-31. Then the turnovers started to take a toll, allowing Frankfort back into the game in the fourth quarter. They cut the lead to 43-40 with 5:36 left in the fourth quarter after free throws following Rabeau’s fifth foul.
Taylor Fleming, who paced the Huron attack with 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven steals and six blocked shots, went to the basket for the next four Huron points. But Frankfort, who did not have a senior on the team, wasn’t finished. They moved the ball effectively, something the Hurons limited in the first half, and made the score 49-43 with 3:06 left, forcing Huron coach Pitts to call timeout to regroup.
After the timeout, Hannah Fleming hit Taylor Fleming with a nice give-and-go pass to set up point 51. But Frankfort cleaned up the offensive glass on the other end to keep close at 51-45. They would not go away and made the score 51-47 with 1:23 left in the game.
Frankfort fouled Huron point guard Jayna Hance, but Hance missed the free throw. Catheryn Hart snared the rebound, was fouled, and hit both ends of a one-and-one with 42 seconds left.
She then blocked a shot on the other end, but Frankfort recovered the ball and hit a short jumper to make the score 53-49 with 27 seconds left. Frankfort stole the inbounds pass, hit a layup and suddenly the score was 53-51. Huron fans that made the trip in the snowy conditions were stunned as Pitts called a timeout.
Frankfort fouled Hance, who made 1-of-2 making the score 54-51 with 18 seconds left.
Again, Frankfort had a chance, but a 3-point attempt from the left corner bounced off the back of the rim. Taylor Fleming went high for the rebound and spiked the ball to the floor in joy as the Hurons held on for the win.
Rabeau scored 11 points and had seven rebounds while Hance had six assists and two steals. Hannah Fleming had five rebounds and three assists while Purgiel had seven points.
Rogers City takes on Bellaire (20-3), a 45-18 winner over Mio in the first regional game, in Thursday’s regional championship game at 7 p.m. The Lady Hurons’ basketball team has never won a regional championship, but many of the same players defeated Bellaire in regional volleyball championship last fall.
The regional winner will advance to the quarterfinals against the winner of the Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (23-0) vs. Fruitport Calvary Christian (20-3) game.
That game is tentatively scheduled to be played Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Mason County Central in Scottville. The state semifinals are March 15 on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids.