Fenton — On Wednesday, the Fenton varsity girls basketball team had a big lead in the fourth quarter and eventually lost a tough contest against area rivals Holly.
Fenton varsity girls basketball coach Don Kutchey called it a learning moment.
Apparently, the Tigers took the lesson to heart. Leading by 16 entering the final quarter, the Tigers never allowed Kearsley to get back into the contest during the final eight minutes and cruised to a 63-48 home victory.
The Tigers converted 7-of-13 shots during the fourth quarter, and 15-of-27 in the second half to spark the victory. Adrie Staib had a nice fourth quarter scoring seven points during it. Four others also scored points during the final eight minutes. A lot of times those points were scored by unselfish passes near the bucket to someone else in the post with an even better shot, resulting in the high second-half field goal percentage. Kearsley tried to press Fenton into mistakes during the second half, but the pressure only had minimal success.
“That’s one thing we’ve worked on is interior passing — make sure you square up and keep your head up to see who is open,” Kutchey said. “On that press break they tried to set us up and it worked in spots but we learned to slow down in the fourth quarter. That is a very athletic and hard working team. If a team presses you have to make them pay. My kids did a good job of adjusting. I changed the defense on them a couple of times and they adjusted well. I have a very smart team.”
Fenton flirted with possibly taking a double-digit lead into halftime and twice had nine-point leads late in the second quarter. The second time came at 26-17 on a conventional layup and converted free throw after a foul by Fenton’s Korryn Smith with just 49.1 seconds left in the half. Kearsley did cut into the gap a tiny bit, trailing 28-21 at halftime.
Kearsley got as close as 28-23 on a driving layup by Kearsley’s Saniaa Walker early in the third quarter, but that’s as close as the Hornets would get. Fenton scored the next six points with four coming by Smith, including two on a breaking layup off a steal by teammate Kyla Lynch. The Tigers led by double-digits for the first time by a 33-23 score.
Before the quarter was over, six Tigers had scored, including six points by Mallory Lehmann, resulting in a 46-30 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Tigers’ lead remained in double-digits the entire fourth quarter. The closest Kearsley got was at 59-45 on a three-pointer by Emma Solvador, but Maggie Lutz responded with a layup for Fenton and then Smith converted two free throws, upping the gap back to 63-45 with just 1:46 remaining. The victory was pretty much locked up after those four points.
Smith finished with 19 points while Staib netted 17 points. Lynch chipped in nine points while Lehmann scored eight points.
Fenton is 2-1, but has held the lead for most of the minutes in its three games. Even in the loss to Holly the Tigers led for most of the contest. That statement reflects how well the Tigers have played so far this season.
“That comes from the fact they’ve worked so hard,” Kutchey said. “From the moment they were able to step on the floor, they’ve worked, worked and worked to try to get better, better and better. Now we just have to get a little more situational.”
Fenton hosts Davison today at 4 p.m.