And so does Warren Cousino girls basketball.
Cousino had forced two-time defending Class A state champ Birmingham Marian into 11 turnovers in the first quarter and 15 for the half, yet the Patriots were only tied with Marian at halftime.
That is when Cousino junior sensation Kierra Fletcher decided that if Cousino was going to win its first regional title in school history, she was going to have to make something happen … namely, magic.
“I came into the second half with a whole different mentality,” Fletcher said. “I was trying to get more into the paint where I make my magic happen.”
Exactly what kind of Fletcher magic happens in the paint?
“If I can get into the paint they’ll collapse on me,” she said, “and I can kick it out to my teammates and it’s a wide-open lay-up every single time.”
Fletcher scored 15 of her game-high 23 points in the second half Thursday and enabled Cousino to knock off Marian, 49-39, and move into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal game at Southfield against Northville.
Marian (17-8), which lost all five starters from last season’s championship team, battled its way back into the game and took two-point lead early in the third quarter, but Fletcher responded with two jump shots and then made an excellent pass to freshman Kate MacArthur (12 points) for a three-point shot.
After a Marian basket, Fletcher hit her third straight shot and then converted two free throws, and MacArthur added another hoop for a 10-point lead with 2:11 left in the third period.
The Mustangs cut the lead to six early in the fourth quarter, but then went seven consecutive scoreless possessions as another Fletcher basket highlighted an 8-0 to put the game away.
“She was the only difference,” Marian coach Mary Cicerone said of Fletcher. “We had to pay tons of attention to her. And we let (MacArthur) get away a little bit and that’s one of those ding-ding mistakes we made. And we didn’t finish very well and we didn’t keep our composure. You don’t move on when you don’t keep your composure.”
Cousino (20-4) did keep its composure when things got chippy, and Fletcher was the key to keeping the band together.
“She’s so special,” Cousino coach Mike Lee said. “She is, obviously, the face of this team and we’ve got some good complements for her, but she is the ultimate person and player. I’m happy for this win because the state starts to learn about Kierra Fletcher.”
Anyone in the state could have already noticed Fletcher, since she made the Free Press’ Class A all-state second team last year as a sophomore.
Now they can see Fletcher in person as she leads the Patriots into a landmark game for the school.
“It’s history in the making, but we’re not done yet,” Fletcher said. “One more day — that’s our motto. We can’t wait to get to Southfield.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
Semifinals-finals: Thursday-March 19, Breslin Center, MSU.
District finals: Today.
Regionals: Monday, Wednesday.
Quarterfinals: March 22.
Semifinals-finals: March 24-26, Breslin Center, MSU.