In the midst of a defensive battle, Grand Ledge coach David Jones said he thought the game would come down to “who was going to get hot at the right time.”
It was the Comets’ Lindsay Orwat.
She hit a 3-point basket to tie the score with 2:50 remaining and another with 2:20 on the clock to give Grand Ledge the lead for good. The No. 4-ranked Comets went on to edge No. 6 Haslett 36-32 in a Class A district final on Thursday night at Ann Arbor Huron High School.
“It was hard to get a basket, hard to score, and a tough shooting night for everybody,” Jones said. “I thought both teams played really strong defense.
“When Lindsay hit those shots to give us that one-point lead, it was that confidence we needed to go out and finish the game.”
Grand Ledge (23-2) advances to face Grand Rapids Christian (20-5) in a Class A quarterfinal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at DeWitt.
“I wasn’t going to let our team lose,” Lindsay Orwat said. “I was so focused on putting the ball in the hole and doing whatever it took.”
After both teams missed two free throws, the Comets’ Hannah Orwat blocked a baseline shot by Haslett’s Karson Tripp, grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to put Grand Ledge ahead 35-32 with 14 seconds remaining.
“That was a huge play for us,” Jones said. “I was glad to see her step up. I’m really proud of her.”
After Haslett missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer, the Comets’ Hannah Orwat knocked the ball away from Haslett’s Makenna Ott as she tried to come down with the rebound. The Vikings then fouled Grand Ledge’s Lauren Bachert, who made the first of two free throws with two seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Ott and Tripp — who grabbed eight rebounds — were held to a basket each for Haslett (23-2).
“We tried to take away their strengths,” Jones said. “You’ve got to give credit to Hannah Orwat for the way she defended Tripp, and to Codie (Drake) and Kelli (Combs) for the way they defended Ott. That’s what good players do. They rise to the occasion. When you’re not making shots, if you go out and play defense, you still have a chance to win — and that’s what happened.”
Hannah Orwat finished with 13 points, and Cori Crocker scored nine points and grabbed 13 rebounds after a scoreless first half in which she sat out five minutes with two fouls.
“I knew that I needed to mentally bring myself back and focus a little bit harder,” Crocker said. “I sat on the bench and said to myself that I’m not going to let that happen again. So I came back in the second half with a goal, and I came out with those two big buckets in the beginning and a couple at the end.
“But it wasn’t my scoring that won us that game. The Orwats and everyone picked up my slack, and that’s the reason we won.”
After Crocker put Grand Ledge ahead 19-18 with the two baskets after halftime, a 3-pointer by MacKenzie DeCook, a basket and a 3-pointer by Megan Mowid and a basket by Sarah Trosko gave Haslett a 28-21 lead with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Sarah Trosko played a great game for us again, and Megan came off the bench and had some good shots,” Haslett coach Bob Currier said.
But the Vikings would score just four points the rest of the game. Hannah Orwat’s 3-point play narrowed Grand Ledge’s deficit to 28-24 going into the fourth quarter, and Crocker made a basket and a free throw to make it 30-27 before Lindsay Orwat’s 3-pointers.
“We lived by shooting well all year,” Currier said. “Grand Ledge did a nice job, but we had a lot of open looks, and we couldn’t get them to go. Some of it was their defense, some of it was their physical (play), but you saw how many layups and short shots we missed.”
The Comets didn’t shoot well, either.
“We had a late bus ride so we didn’t get to warm up,” Lindsay Orwat said. “I think that played a factor in our shooting percentage tonight. It wasn’t pretty.”
Grand Ledge also won its regional a year ago.
“That’s been our message since we started this tournament,” Jones said. “We said ‘we’ve been here before, we know the experience, we’re going to let that guide us and just trust yourself.’ That’s what we’ve been trying to focus on.”
GRAND LEDGE 36, HASLETT 32
Haslett-Kenzie DeCook 4 0-1 9, Maria Kronner 0 2-2 2, Megan Mowid 3 0-0 8, Makenna Ott 1 0-2 2, Adrianna Stolicker 1 0-0 2, Karson Tripp 1 0-2 2, Sarah Trosko 3 0-0 7. Totals 13 2-7 32.
Grand Ledge-Lauren Bachert 2 1-3 6, Cori Crocker 3 3-4 9, Codie Drake 1 0-0 2, Hannah Orwat 1 4-7 6, Lindsay Orwat 4 1-2 13. Totals 11 9-16 36.
3-point goals-Haslett 4 (Kenzie DeCook 1, Megan Mowid 2, Sarah Trosko 1), Grand Ledge 5 (Lauren Bachert 1, Lindsay Orwat 4). Total foul s-Haslett 14, Grand Ledge 13