FOWLERVILLE — It took one of the best 16-minute defensive performances of Pete Cool’s 10-year tenure as the Williamston girls basketball coach for his ball club to finally crack a smile. And then it took a 21-point, third-quarter scoring outpour for the Hornets to exhale and watch the damage they had just done play out.
Class B No. 3-ranked Williamston was clicking on all cylinders in Friday’s district title showdown with Fowlerville — a championship-like performance, if you will.
After surrendering just five points in the first half, the Hornets went on to top their CAAC White foe, 56-34, at Fowlerville High School and capture their second straight Class B district title.
GIRLS BASKETBALL DISTRICT FINALS:
“We were real happy with the defense,” Cool said. “We just wanted to be aggressive and, basically, make them earn their shots.
“Good defense, and then we wanted to be well-rounded on offense. We’re trying to peak at the right time, as everyone always says.”
Junior guard Maddie Watters led the way for Williamston with a game-high 21 points. After scoring 12 points in the first 16 minutes and helping her team take a 23-5 lead into the half, Watters scored eight points in the third quarter to spark the Hornets on the offensive end.
The junior surpassed 1,000 career points in the victory — a feat she said wasn’t on her radar coming into the game — and she was happy it came on a night where her team put together one of its best showings of the season.
“We focused on defense most of the year,” she said. “We knew that in order to win these games we were going to have to focus on defense, and that’s what we did. We put the pieces together very well. It’s got us this far, and it’s a good feeling.”
Williamston freshman Kenzie Lewis scored 11 points and added seven assists, and senior guard Halle Wisbiski continued her strong postseason outing by contributing with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Junior forward Allison Peplowski, who had a game-high nine rebounds, scored five of her seven points in the fourth quarter to help keep the Hornets at arm’s length of the Gladiators (15-7).
Fowlerville, which didn’t score its first bucket until the 6:20 mark of the second quarter, began to show life out of the locker room at halftime. The Gladiators went on to score 14 points in the third quarter, but Williamston had an answer for each bucket.
Sophomore Jackie Jarvis led the team with 10 points, and sophomore Elie Smith added eight points, six rebounds and five blocks.
Fowlerville coach Nick Douglass, whose team lost to the Hornets by 29 points back in January and four points in late February, was disappointed in the Gladiators’ static start. He believed that his team’s tough showing against Williamston two weeks ago was going to pay off come district tournament time.
“I have a saying that I try to use with the kids, ‘GPBPNP: Good Play. Bad Play. Next Play.’,” Douglass said. “Just before tip-off, I told everyone, ‘I want everyone to go out there and make your mistake right now, because you’re going to make a mistake. Let’s just get it over and done with.’
“It seemed like no one wanted to be the first one to make that mistake in the early going.”
Junior Ollie Updike scored seven points for the Gladiators.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.