The first half of the KLAA Gold girls basketball season wraps up this week, with both Brighton and Hartland facing a busy week ahead.
Brighton (6-2 overall, 2-1 KLAA Gold) and Hartland (5-3, 2-2) play each other tonight. On Friday, Brighton plays host to Howell while Hartland plays at Novi. Howell and Novi are currently first and second in the Gold.
“The kids are really locked in (and) looking forward to it,” Brighton coach Paul Ash said. “You’ve got to play those games sometime. Now’s as good a time as any.”
It will be the first meeting of the season between the teams, each featuring a sophomore in the post with a senior on the wing and guards who are capable of changing the course of the game.
The post players are Hartland’s Whitney Sollum, a 6-4 sophomore who’s been drawing interest from Division 1 coaches, and Brighton’s Sophie Dziekan, a 6-2 sophomore who’s getting plenty of looks from Division 1 schools as well.
“Sophie a true post player who likes to be in there and likes the physical play,” Hartland coach Don Palmer said. “Whitney, because of her size, plays in (the post) but is maybe more a wing type. They’re good players, just different players.”
Both have the ability to change defenses, as well, with teams more apt to guard the perimeter and deny the ball to the post.
The wing players are Hartland’s Graysen Cockerham and Brighton’s Dayna Schemanske, who both can drive to the basket or set up for 3-pointers.
They are so similar, Palmer says of the duos, that even if you cancel them out, then teams have to consider the rest of the starters. For example, in Hartland’s overtime loss to Howell last week, Nikki Dompierre put up five 3-pointers to keep the Eagles close.
So, as in most games between the triumvirate of Brighton, Hartland and Howell, the deciding factor could be a couple of possessions here and there, a costly mistake or a well-timed play.
“We have to eliminate turnovers and have good defensive possessions,” Ash said. “We have to challenge every shot and make sure we don’t give up transition scores. And we have to take care of the ball and have good, quality possessions, each time down the floor.”
In other words, fundamentals. And neither team feels it has the luxury to look at anything but tonight’s game.
“This is a very competitive week,” Palmer said. “It’s the old cliche: Try to win the first one and see what happens in the second one.”