Livonia Stevenson’s girls basketball team authored the perfect “Senior Night” script Tuesday night against visiting Livonia Franklin.
With 5:29 left and the feisty Patriots clinging to a 48-47 lead, it appeared the cross-town rivalry encounter was going to be a page-turning thriller.
However, fueled by one of the four senior honorees – Arryn Dochenetz – the Spartans closed the night with a 17-2 run to slam the book shut on a 64-50 triumph.
Stevenson improved to 6-11 while Franklin slipped to 3-14.
Sophomore guard Diane Senkowski’s two free throws at the 4:55 mark gave Stevenson the lead for good, 49-48.
Following an and-one lay-up by junior Amanda Schultz, who drained the ensuing free throw, Dochenetz sandwiched a top-of-the-key triple and an offensive put-back around a Brianne Maas three, and after a break-away layup by Dochenetz, the Spartans lead had ballooned to 62-50 with 2:30 left.
“I played my heart out, like it was our last game,” said Dochenetz, who finished with a team-high 18 points. “We weren’t getting back on defense in the first half and No. 11 for them (Sarah Cramton) is really good and she did a good job of cutting in front of our face.
“Offensively, we were more patient in the second half, which opened up more shots for us. It feels good to win tonight because we had kind of a long losing streak. This will get our confidence up heading into districts.”
The Spartans other three seniors – Danielle Marzec, Maggie Law and Oly Nwankwo – also played well in spurts.
Cramton was phenomenal for Franklin before fouling out with 3:06 left. She accounted for 20 points and 11 rebounds after not scoring in the first quarter.
Franklin seniors Erin McNally (nine points, 12 rebounds) and Tayonna Tate (13 points, 10 boards) also played well for the Patriots.
“We weren’t extending enough on defense after we got the lead there and they hit two or three threes, which really gave them momentum and a confidence boost,” said Franklin head coach Jim Milican. “They changed up their press, too, at the end and forced us into a few turnovers.
“Sarah obviously played a great game and Erin McNally played really well, especially in the first half when she had four big baskets.”
Maas, who was recently promoted from the Spartans’ junior-varsity team, not only scored five points in limited minutes, but her aggressiveness energized Stevenson’s late defensive surge.
Junior guard Brooke D’Arcy scored nine points for Stevenson – all on triples – while junior forward Amanda Schultz added 11 and Senkowski chipped in with nine points and seven rebounds – five offensive.
“We’ve lost three or four games recently in which we had a late lead or were close, but the girls hung in there tonight and closed it out,” said Stevenson head coach Tim Newman. “We switched up our offense against their 1-3-1 zone a little bit at the end. We overloaded one side which opened up some shots for us. We played smarter defensively down the stretch as well.”