Ionia had won in overtime on Wednesday against the only team that has beaten Class A sixth-ranked Haslett this season — Eaton Rapids in its opener.
But playing a fifth game in eight days turned out to be as much of an obstacle to the Bulldogs’ pulling another upset as CAAC Red champion Haslett rolled to a 55-41 girls basketball victory Friday night over Ionia.
“We played Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then again tonight,” Ionia coach Andy Barr said. “We just didn’t have a lot of energy tonight.”
Haslett scored the first 11 points of the second half to pull ahead 39-18 and led by as much as 22 points with two minutes left in the third quarter.
“We knew they were taking away the middle,” Vikings coach Bob Currier said. “So we were trying to get good passes to our shooters so they could get their shots in rhythm, and that worked pretty well.”
Juniors MacKenzie DeCook and Adrianna Stolicker, who scored 12 points each, were Haslett’s top outside threats.
“We gave them open shots, and their kids knock down shots,” Barr said.
The Vikings also held Ionia to just six points in the third quarter.
“The second half, we pretty much gave them one shot – and that was a big goal,” Currier said.
But a 15-3 run midway through the second half pulled the Bulldogs as close as 44-34 with 5:15 remaining.
“I thought our bench gave us some good energy,” Barr said.
“Sabrinna Swartz really stepped up, and brought us a lot of positive energy that we really needed.”
But Stolicker hit five key points, and Makenna Ott scored eight of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to secure Haslett’s 16th straight win.
The Bulldogs took a pair of leads in the first quarter, and trailed just 12-9 heading into a second quarter where Ionia went 0-for-7 from the free throw line.
“I thought our poor free throw shooting really hurt is in the first half,” Barr said. “We had a lot of opportunities.”
Haslett took advantage and built a 28-18 halftime lead with many reserves in the game.
“The bench came out and did a great job tonight,” Currier said. “We had a lot of energy from everybody.”
Junior center Anna Riccius scored 12 points to lead Ionia (13-5, 5-4).
“We made a conscious effort to get it inside,” Barr said. “We thought she could score well against Ott and (sophomore Karson) Tripp inside, because she’s a little bigger and more physical.”
Haslett (16-1, 9-0) will now encounter what the Bulldogs have just experienced.
Friday’s game started a stretch of five games in 10 days for the Vikings, who host Lansing Catholic on Monday and Class B No. 11 Jackson Northwest on Tuesday before playing at Owosso on Friday and hosting East Lansing in their Class A district opener the following Monday (Feb. 24).
“The first goal was to win it (the CAAC Red), and now the second goal is to be undefeated in it — which is a big deal in our conference,” said Currier, whose team defeated Class A No. 9 DeWitt twice in league play in addition to Ionia, St. Johns and Fowlerville.