It was going to be a tall order for Farmington Hills Harrison to beat host Clarkston in an Oakland Activities Association Red Division showdown.
Amber Stephens and the Hawks defense were up to the task.
The Wayne State-bound senior scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half and the Wolves committed 25 turnovers as Harrison prevailed, 54-45.
Because Clarkston couldn’t hold onto the ball, it wasn’t able to effectively utilize 6-foot-1 Kayla Luchenbach, who finished with 12 points.
“The plan was to get the ball inside, but you can’t do that unless you take care of the basketball,” said Clarkston coach Christine Rogers. “Our inexperience showed. That’s something we’re going to work on.”
While the inexperienced Wolves learned a lesson, the veteran Hawks have hopes for a special season.
“I just really enjoy playing defense,” said Stephens. “I could see where they were throwing the ball and I said I might as well take a chance and see if I could get there. I got there the first couple of times and I said OK. I just kept doing it because I felt it was working.”
The smaller Hawks, with a group that has played together since middle school and no player taller than 5-9, handed Clarkston (9-1) its first loss.
“We worked on how we were going to play them in practice,” said Harrison coach Allen Walker. “We spent a lot of time on defense and how we were going to do things. We ran three different defenses and we ran them just the way we wanted to.”
Kristen Nelson (Southern Illinois) had 16 points for Harrison (9-1).
Clarkston’s Alyssa Bey (10 points) and Kailan Mehta both picked up their third fouls before halftime, as the Hawks used 13 turnovers to take a 31-25 lead.
Still plagued by the turnover bug, the Wolves were outscored 7-0 to start the third quarter. Nelson’s triple and a layup by Teddi Pickens gave the Hawks a 38-25 lead.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.