The scoreboard was close the whole way and most people expected a photo finish between host Pioneer and Romulus in a girls’ basketball District opener on Monday evening in the first of two Class A playoff games.
The first quarter ended with the game tied at 11-11. Romulus led 22-21 at halftime and Pioneer took a 35-34 lead into the final quarter. It looked like this one would go down to the final possession and maybe even require overtime.
But the Pioneers did something they normally don’t do. They went to a zone and suddenly they were getting defensive stops. Meanwhile, at the other end, the Pioneers worked the ball down low with great results.
That combination turned the key to an impressive 56-44 win over Romulus and a ticket to Wednesday’s semifinals against Pinckney. The Pirates got a first-round bye.
“We did some things down the stretch that the players executed on the fly,” said Pioneer Coach Tyrone Hicks. “I’m so proud of how they adjusted defensively and that was the key to the game. That was the most zone we’ve ever played and on this night it worked for us.”
It certainly did.
Junior Asaria Turman scored eight of her game-high 23 points in the final quarter to lead the Pioneers. Freshman Felicia Stewart had nine points, junior Whitney Gallagher scored eight and junior Nina Makhlouf scored seven.
“It was a really nice team win,” Hicks said. “We played hard and got contributions from a lot of people. I thought Ilena Garrett played a strong game for us. The last five games she has played really, really well.”
Turman scored the team’s first six points in the fourth quarter to give the hosts a 41-39 lead with 5 minutes left to play. The junior then threw a perfect pass underneath to Coby LaPointe who hit the layup to make it 43-39 with 4 minutes left to play.
After a triple cut the lead to 43-42, Makhlouf converted a three-point play to give Pioneer a 46-42 lead with 3:25 left. Gallagher scored inside to push the lead to 48-42 with 1:35 left in the game.
Garrett hit a jumper to make it 52-44.