Grand Ledge found out how hard it can be to beat a team three times in one season on Wednesday night in its Class A district semifinal game against CAAC Blue foe Holt.
The Comets led by just four points heading into the fourth quarter, but began the final eight minutes on a 14-6 run to win 53-38 and advance to Friday’s district final at Richland Gull Lake High School.
“You’re so familiar with their players and they’re so familiar with our players. A lot of these girls have been going against each other their whole lives and you’ve got three-, four-year varsity players, they’ve got three, four-year varsity players and so they face each other a lot,” Grand Ledge coach David Jones said. “We kept telling our girls to be persistent on our defense, trust that you’ll eventually wear them down and I feel like in the end that’s what kind of happened.”
Said senior Hannah Orwat: “They were going to bring us to the fourth quarter and we just had to finish. We’re a team with experience, so we just stayed calm and finished it like we do in these big games and the playoffs.”
When the two teams met last week, Grand Ledge (20-2) jumped out to a 19-4 lead after the first quarter and coasted to a win.
But Holt (18-4) was extremely patient with its offensive possessions on Wednesday, sometimes taking over a minute to find the right shot.
“They slowed the game down,” Jones said. “They were deliberate on offense. I thought they had a great game plan.”
The slow pace continued into the second half after the Comets led 22-20 at halftime. Grand Ledge made just two field goals in the third quarter, but led 31-27 after 24 minutes.
Junior Sophia Guzman hit a three-pointer to start the final quarter and Hannah Orwat, who finished with 15 points in the game and 13 in the second half, knocked down another shot from beyond the perimeter to give the Comets their largest lead of the game to that point.
“They hit a couple big threes that really extended that lead,” Holt coach Doug Harkema said. “They hadn’t taken many threes all night. Guzman hit a huge three for them. That was a really big bucket.”
After Grand Ledge’s next basket, Holt sophomore guard Kamrin Reed raced down the court and scored two of her 21 points and Jones was frustrated enough with his team’s inability to get back down the floor that he took a timeout immediately.
There was some squabbling in the huddle and the verbal sparring could be heard throughout an otherwise quiet gymnasium, but the Comets closed the game well after they broke from the timeout.
Senior Kelli Combs made her only basket of the game after the inbounds pass and junior Cori Crocker and Hannah Orwat followed with baskets to push the lead into double digits at 45-33.
“We’re definitely vocal and we’re definitely loud. We fight with each other, but like family we fight like family and play like family,” Hannah Orwat said.
“We’re all like sisters, so it’ll definitely get loud in the huddle sometimes.”
Senior Lindsay Orwat scored 14 points for Grand Ledge and Crocker finished with nine points for the Comets.
Junior guard Tara Lierman added 10 points for Holt, as the Rams got 31 of 38 points from their talented backcourt duo.
“They’re the real deal,” Harkema said of the Comets.
“We’re very good. We have three of our four losses to Grand Ledge. I hope they win the whole thing.”