The Zebras finally found their stripes midway through the second quarter and never looked back on Wednesday night. Wayne Memorial struggled out of the gate and fell behind Pioneer 9-4 after the first quarter but once the Zebras got the offense rolling there was little Pioneer could do as Wayne Memorial won the Regional final 53-35 at Skyline High School.
The game was much closer than the score indicates – the Pioneers pulled within nine points with more than 3 minutes to play in the game but couldn’t close the gap any further.
The Pioneers felt Wayne’s pressure all game. They had some turnovers but also rushed shots and missed others because of the Zebras relentless defense. They also missed some shots that simply wouldn’t fall – it just wasn’t their night offensively.
But it was for Wayne Memorial after the first quarter – including a banked in three-pointer from the top of the key in the fourth quarter. The Zebras were a little lucky on that shot but very good every else.
Senior Asaria Turman had 10 points and freshman Mya Hicks scored nine to lead Pioneer. Freshman Lauren DeWolf had seven points and senior Corine Burgard scored six for the Pioneers.
Wayne Memorial had three players in double figures – Sammiyah Hoskin with 13 and Alanna Micheaux and Jeanae Terry with 12 each. The Zebras (25-2) will play another SEC Red Division team, Bedford, on March 19 in a state quarterfinal game. The Kicking Mules defeated Dearborn Heights Crestwood 60-49 in another Regional final.
The Pioneers finish the season at 20-6. They won an SEC Red Division title, a District title and a Regional semifinal game.
The Pioneers came out strong and took advantage of Wayne’s early offensive struggles. A triple by Hicks gave Pioneer an early 5-0 lead.
A strong drive to the basket by Burgard gave Pioneer a 7-2 lead. The senior forward then hit a runner in the lane to push the lead to 9-4.
Pioneer flashed some good defense at the other end. A nice hustle play by Felicia Stewart prevented an easy Wayne layup midway through the opening quarter.
Pioneer led 9-4 after one quarter.
Both offenses continued to struggle early in the second quarter. Turman scored inside to give Pioneer an 11-4 lead with 6:05 to play in the first half.
The Zebras finally got the offense rolling midway through the period. And once it got rolling it was tough to stop. A triple by Jayah Hicks gave the Zebras their first lead of the game at 14-13 with 2:20 left in the second quarter.
Turman answered at the other end with a basket inside to make it 15-14.
But Wayne Memorial’s Hoskin hit a long triple from in front of the Pioneer bench to give the Zebras a 17-15 lead. A jumper by Hoskin then gave Wayne a 21-15 lead.
The Zebras led 22-15 at halftime.
Wayne Memorial kept coming in the third quarter while the Pioneer offense struggled to find any rhythm.
A basket by Hoskin made it 24-15 and then a basket by Jordan Wright gave the Zebras a 26-15 lead. A basket inside by Micheaux pushed Wayne’s lead to 28-15.
Pioneer’s first basket of the third quarter came inside from Turman with 5:50 left in the quarter to cut the lead to 28-17.
Hicks knocked down a triple to cut the deficit to 28-20 with 4:20 left in the quarter.
Baskets by Micheaux and Makailah Griggs-Zeigler pushed Wayne’s lead to 34-21 with 1:10 left.
After a layup by Pioneer’s Ilena Garett, Terry hit a triple from the wing in the final seconds to send Wayne into the fourth quarter with a 37-23 lead.
Jasmine Elder’s banked-in triple gave Wayne a 40-24 lead and it looked like it was time to turn out the lights. But Pioneer wasn’t about to give up. They kept on fighting. DeWolf scored to cut the lead to 40-28. Hicks knocked down a couple free throws to cut it to 40-30 with 4:38 left on the clock.
Turman scored a shot in the lane to cut the deficit to 41-32 with 3:30 left to play.
But the Zebras knocked down some free throws to pull away in the final minutes.