EAST LANSING – Both coaches in Thursday’s first Class D semifinal agreed that Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes coach Steve Robak had a tremendous game plan in place against Pittsford junior center Maddie Clark.
“I thought Coach Robak had a great plan,” said Pittsford coach Chris Hodos. “He wasn’t going to led Maddie beat him like last year.”
A year ago, Clark hit 13 of 19 shots for 26 points with 15 rebounds in a 31-point semifinal victory over Lakes.
“I thought our game plan was actually going to be pretty effective,” Robak said. “Maddie Clark is not a player — that type of player — that you run into very often, so you’re not going to simulate that in practice.”
Even Clark, an amazingly strong 5-foot-10 post player, acknowledged that Lakes made things tough for her.
“They had a good game plan,” she said. “They were double-teaming me. And it worked.
“For a while.”
Clark hit 9 of 10 shots for 24 points and yanked down 16 rebounds to spark Pittsford to a 62-43 win over Lakes at the Breslin Center.
Lakes (20-5) zeroed in on Clark, holding her to 10 points in the first half, but No. 1 Pittsford (26-0) still led, 31-19.
“We were really just trying to find one girl form Pittsford that we could sag off of and double on to Clark and keep a hand on her at all times, just try to become that annoying defender that is bothersome,” Robak said. “As the day went on, probably just because you begin to tire when you’re banging against someone that’s big and strong, we let her get free more than we should have.”
Clark knows positioning and takes up a lot of space, which makes her a tremendous rebounder.
“Rebounding is key and definitely we need to box out,” she said. “Coach is always preaching five to the defensive boards. … As a post, that’s your job to get to the boards.”
Seven of Clark’s rebounds came on the offensive boards, where she has a knack for turning an offensive rebound into a basket.
Trailing by 12 at halftime, Lakes began the third quarter with 11 consecutive scoreless possessions and fell behind by 18 points, effectively ending the game.
It was another terrific defensive performance by the Wildcats, who have held 18 opponents to fewer than 30 points this season.
“Defense is definitely a key thing for our team,” said junior Jaycie Burger, who hit 10 of 14 free throws, but only 2 of 15 shots and finished with 15 points. “Sometimes we go through dry spells like me tonight — I could not find the basket. When you can’t find the basket, it’s definitely important to make sure the other team can’t find it, either.”
A year ago, Pittsford advanced to the championship game and led St. Ignace by 20 points in the third quarter before losing in overtime.
Burger and her teammates would like to flip the script Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to play here at the Breslin Center — to play for a state title,” she said. “And to have already been here to play for a state title and to know what it feels like to lose, I definitely don’t want to let that happen again.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.