EAST LANSING – Warren Cousino’s 19-point lead had almost evaporated before Kierra Fletcher’s eyes when she drove to the lane in the fourth quarter, made a shot while being fouled and fell to the ground.
While on the floor, the junior guard let out a shout and pounded her fist so hard on the court she probably left an impression on it.
That is when she realized Cousino was going to be Class A state champion.
Fletcher turned in another amazing performance Saturday, scoring 27 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists to enable Cousino to knock off five-time state champion Detroit King, 67-65, at the Breslin Center.
Her routine was eerily similar to the championship-game effort Franthea Price had in 1984 in leading underdog River Rouge past a stacked Livonia Ladywood team, 47-46, in Kalamazoo.
Fletcher was not a one-person team, but she was the one who set the tone with her amazing drives into the lane for soft pull-up jump shots that bounced gently off the rim and into the basket.
While the King players were a horrendous 5 of 31 (16.1%) from three-point range, Fletcher didn’t take a single three-point shot — in the entire tournament.
We don’t know if Fletcher has much of a perimeter game — because she is so ridiculously efficient with everything she does, she isn’t here to show off.
“Three-point shots to me, they’re not very high percentage,” she said. “So I just try to go in closer because the closer you are to the basket, the more likely you are to have it go in.”
That sounds like someone wise beyond her years, just as Price was 32 years ago.
“I just want to have a basketball IQ,” Fletcher said. “It doesn’t really matter how much I score. If I score, I score. If I don’t and I can get the ball to my teammates, I can. I do whatever I have to do to win.”
Truth be told, Fletcher, a 3.97 student, prefers to pass as opposed to shoot. She shoots only when needed, which can drive Cousino coach Mike Lee a little loopy at times.
“Sometimes Coach Lee kind of tells me I have to be more selfish, but that’s just not who I am,” she said. “I get hyped when another person on my team makes a play, it gets me going. If I’m getting a lay-up, it’s just a lay-up, but if I’m getting someone else an opportunity to score, I think that’s what matters most to me.”
This was a spectacular weekend for Fletcher, who totaled 64 points on 23-of-33 shooting with 10 assists in the two games at Breslin.
Add in her amazing defense and we have a special player on our hands.
The impression Fletcher’s fist left on the court wasn’t the only impression she made on this day. This was her opportunity to let the state know that girls basketball is played in Macomb Country after all.
“I think I showed people I can play basketball,” she said, modestly. “People don’t really know who I am, which is fine, I guess. But since I just played on statewide television that people will say: ‘Oh, that’s Kiera Fletcher.’ So I guess it’s cool.”
Actually, the reaction was more like: “Wow! That’s Kierra Fletcher!”
And if they were around in 1984, the might have thought they just saw the reincarnation of Franthea Price.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1