Article Courtesy of the Oakland Press, 2-1-2020
Grit and grind is Rochester’s motto.
They used both on Friday night to defeat Birmingham Seaholm, 46-37, in an OAA Blue girls basketball contest at Rochester.
The Falcons (7-6, 6-1) are now tied with Berkley for the top spot in the OAA Blue, while the Maples drop to 5-9 and 4-3 in the conference.
“The girls have done a great job as a team. We always preach team, and tonight was a team win,’’ Rochester coach Bill Thurston said.
The Falcons led most of the way, holding a 22-18 halftime edge.
But the Maples took a 26-25 lead midway through the third quarter, but that disappeared when junior center Ananya Rangarajan scored from inside to retake the lead, 27-26. The Falcons were able to hold on from that point.
Minutes later Seaholm’s Julia Crump took an elbow above the eye (deep enough to require stitches) and had to sit out the remainder of the game.
“That was a turning point. We were working so hard then my best player gets her eye cut,’’ Seaholm coach Chris Manchester said. “She was our high scorer at that point, doing great. The energy was awesome and something like that happens and changed the flow of the game.’’
Rochester led 33-30 at the end of the third quarter, scrapped and continued to add to its lead.
Seaholm had the height advantage, but Rochester found a way to compensate.
“I think it’s the effort of the girls, just preaching to them — they may be taller than you but if you can get a little physical with them,’’ Thurston said. “And like I keep telling them, it all comes from your heart. If you want the ball you’re going to go get it. The second half they did what they had to do to get the rebounds and that put us up.’’
The Maples had the clear edge in offensive rebounds but couldn’t take advantage.
“We’re a lot bigger than a lot of teams. Sometimes we don’t show it, but tonight we showed it rebounding-wise we just couldn’t finish the put-backs,’’ Manchester said.
Grace Liebler (11 points) and Crump (nine points) led the Maples.
“Senior Grace Liebler played her best game of the year, rebounding, scoring, she just was everywhere,’’ Manchester said. “She did an awesome job.’’
Thurston said it was tough to pick one girl who had a good game since it was a team win, but there were a few standouts.
Senior Brianna Mazur stepped up in the second half, did a good job of getting the rebounds,’’ Thurston said. “Megan Lorenzo, she’s been doing a great job. She’s basically playing the whole game, maybe taking a minute or two off.’’
Rangarajan led the Falcons with 10 points while senior Anna Winkler added nine points.
In their first meeting on Dec. 17, Seaholm topped Rochester, 48-42.
“We beat them at our place, I knew coming here it was going to be different — different atmosphere, you play different when you’re away,’’ Manchester said.
Up next for Seaholm is a home game against Royal Oak on Tuesday.
Rochester will face Berkley at home on Thursday.
“It’s a huge game. Everyone’s saying that’s the game for the OAA Blue (title),’’ Thurston said.