Given their druthers, the hartland and Brighton girls basketball teams would rather have had an extra day to prepare for their game.
But concerns about a major winter storm predicted for Friday moved the game up to Thursday, with the teams meeting at Brighton High School.
“What you like to do, typically, is (on Wednesday) correct the things you didn’t do well the day before,” Brighton coach Paul Ash said. “Thursday’s practice is for game prep. So we rolled it all into one today. It’s not like we don’t know each other.”
The teams meet for the second time this season tonight in a game broadcast on The Livingston Post starting at about 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs (12-3 overall, 8-2 KLAA Gold) can, with a win, can contend for a share of the Gold Division title on Tuesday at Howell. For Hartland (10-4, 7-3), it’s a chance for a little redemption after the Eagles were “smothered,” as coach Don Palmer put it, in a 36-22 loss on their home floor on Jan. 12.
In that game, Hartland leading scorers Graysen Cockerham and Whitney Sollom were held to seven points combined, well below their averages.
“We’ve got to get more productivity out of those kids,” Palmer said. “Whitney has to get more touches, because whether or not she scores, she distorts the defense a little bit. There’s got to be a double-team, and that opens more space on the perimeter.”
The key for Brighton, Ash says, is defense.
“We have to limit possessions, limit them to one shot per possession, take care of the ball and not turn it over on our end,” he said. “It’s easy to say, but not always easy to do.”
The Bulldogs have been led by their own wing-post combination this season. Dana Schemanske, on the perimeter, and Sophie Dziekan, inside, have proven effective at both ends of the floor.
“We match up better with Howell than we do with Brighton,” Palmer said. “Sophie just seems to have her way with us, and Schemanske is a lot better player than people give her credit for. And they’ve got some kids who just hustle.”
Both teams are looking forward to the matchup.
“You want to play well now, because every game is important,” Ash said. “It would be exciting to get a win tomorrow and make Tuesday’s game even more special. But anytime you play Hartland or Howell, it’s special. If the kids can’t get excited playing one of their rivals, they probably shouldn’t be playing.”