BRIGHTON — With 29 seconds left and her team trailing 37-36, Brighton sophomore Sophie Dziekan saw the ball was going to teammate Dana Schemanske and felt good.
Schemanske hadn’t had a good game. She got two quick fouls and spent the second quarter on the bench. Northville defenders had blanketed her when Brighton was on offense.
But the Mustangs defense cracked, just a little, and Schemanske buried a 3-pointer, her only basket of the game, as Brighton won 39-37.
Dziekan wasn’t the least bit surprised.
“She always steps up when it’s big,” she said. “Like the Howell game two years ago. She won that game on the last shot. She always steps up when she needs to.”
Schemanske, a senior, isn’t quite cynical enough to be blase.
“It felt good,” she said, giggling. “It was fun. It was probably the biggest shot I ever hit.”
It came despite both she and Dziekan sitting for a time due to foul trouble, in part because a deep bench held down the fort until they could return.
“We’ve been playing 10 kids every game, and we’re not too worried about it,” Brighton coach Paul Ash said. “There’s times we have four sophomores on the floor, and we’re not afraid to do that. These kids can play, and they practice against Dana every day, so they’re going against good players. We expect them to go out and make plays.”
In this case, youth beat experience. Northville (4-1) has seven seniors, two of whom are four-year starters, but Brighton (4-1) led the entire game until near the end of the third quarter, in part because of a suffocating defense that rarely allowed the Mustangs near the basket and forcing bad shots when they got there.
“We did not do a good job with their dribble penetration in the third quarter,” Ash said by way of explaining Northville’s comeback. “We got away from keeping our gap integrity, and they made some good drives.”
Schemanske, for her part, wasn’t peeved or frustrated about the Northville defense on her.
“They weren’t coming,” she said of her lack of open looks, “but they were coming for my other teammates.”
In all, nine players got on the scoresheet. Schemanske was the last to get on, going 3-for-4 at the line before hitting her 3.
“That Northville team is going to win a lot of games this year,” Ash said. “They’re a very good team. I’m not looking forward to going on their floor. It’s going to be a tough one.”
That may be true, but that also comes with respect, and teams that might have shrugged off Brighton’s win over a previously undefeated Plymouth team last week are likely to pay more attention to Tuesday’s win.
“We had a really hard practice on Sunday,” Dziekan said. “We really knew what we needed to do to get better, and that’s what we focused on. It all came together, and when we went out on the floor, it just clicked.”