Third time’s a charm

Hurons score late to upset Hillman in district semifinal

News Photo by James Andersen Rogers City’s Jayna Hance (13) drives the lane for a shot during a district semifinal game against Hillman on Wednesday at Onaway High School. Also pictured in the photo is Hillman’s Brooke Jones.

ONAWAY–Kayla Rabeau proved the old adage true on Wednesday: it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season.

The Rogers City senior scored a basket inside with 38 seconds left and the Hurons shocked Hillman in a Class D district semifinal, winning 40-38 at Onaway High School.

The win advances Rogers City to Friday’s district final against Posen, who defeated Onaway earlier in the night.

After coming up short against the Tigers in two early attempts this season, including a 13-point loss almost two weeks ago, the Hurons (16-4) made sure the third time was the charm on Wednesday.

“It feels great. We’ve been working for this. The amount of time we put into it in practice paid off tonight. The kids played really hard and everything worked out really well for us,” Rogers City coach Duane Pitts said.”Hillman’s a great team. We just gave it everything we had and fortunately we held on enough at the end to get the job done.”

On a Rogers City inbound, Fleming missed a shot in the paint and the rebound came back to the Hurons after Hillman tried to pass it. Jayna Hance kicked the ball in to Rabeau, who caught the ball over the outstretched hand of a Hillman defender and laid the ball in for the winning basket.

“Well we were going to run a screen for Jayna cutting off and then dive Taylor across the other side. Kayla went to the other guard and we made something happen out of it,” Pitts said. “It broke down a little bit, but then we found Kayla on the far side for that lay in.”

Hillman (19-2) led 35-32 with 4:16 left, but couldn’t do much to stop the Hurons over the last four minutes. Taylor Fleming scored a pair of key baskets late to give Rogers City a 38-36 lead, including one where she grabbed a defensive rebound and took the ball the length of the court to score.

A basket from Andrea Taratuta with 1:23 left tied the game at 38 and proved to be the last bucket of the night for the Tigers.

“It was tight throughout, I expected it to be that way. Give a lot of credit to Rogers City. We seemed a step slow tonight and our ball movement wasn’t as good,” Hillman coach John Kuzewski said.

Hillman led 21-17 at halftime, but the Hurons seemed primed to break out and they did just that in the third quarter. After trading baskets, the Hurons went on a 9-0 run, taking their first lead of the game, 28-23, with 2:40 left. Five of those points came from Hannah Fleming, who hit a three-pointer and another shot during the run.

A triple from Bailey Schook at the end of the third quarter made it 28-27.

A pair of key buckets from Lyndsey Ryba gave Hillman the lead back with 6:17 left in the game. Ryba drove the lane for a basket and came back again just 16 seconds later with another basket inside, giving Hillman a 33-30 lead.

Ryba scored just eight points in the loss, but did a solid job putting her teammates in position to score. Brooke Jones led Hillman with nine points and Eve LaFleche added eight.

Taylor Fleming led Rogers City with 20 points and Rabeau finished with eight.

The game proved to be a tough defensive battle from the opening tip and Hillman led 10-6 after one quarter. Taylor Fleming came up big for the Hurons early in the game, scoring Rogers City’s first 10 points.

A basket by Hance off of a turnover gave the Hurons their first lead with 6:50 left in the half. Hillman took the lead back a short time later on a trey from Jones and the Tigers managed to stay a step ahead of Rogers City the rest of the half.

“I was really impressed with how well our kids hung in there because we got down a couple times and we fought our way back; just a good team victory,” Pitts said.

The loss brought an end to an impressive season for Hillman, which came into Wednesday’s game with 19 straight wins. Despite the loss, Kuzewski praised his team for its impressive season.

“I told my girls to be disappointed in tonight, but don’t hang your heads,” Kuzewski said. “We had a great season, it just didn’t end the way we wanted, but I couldn’t be prouder of my girls.”

With one victory in hand, the Hurons will now set their sites on winning a district title. Rogers City has reached the district final each of the last two seasons and fallen short.


BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free throws made/Free throws attempted/Total Points

ROGERS CITY (40): T. Fleming 9 2-5 20; J. Hance 1 2-4 4; M. Hincka 1 0-0 2; K. Rabeau 3 2-2 8; S. Purgiel 0 1-2 1; H. Fleming 2 0-0 5.

HILLMAN (38): E. LaFleche 2 4-4 8; A. Taratuta 1 1-2 3; B. Jones 3 1-2 9; L. Ryba 4 0-3 8; K. Kenyon 2 0-0 4; B. Schook 2 0-0 5; J. Appelgren 0 1-2 1.


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