After his team rolled past Hartland on Tuesday night, Brighton girls basketball coach Paul Ash asked his team not to waste the momentum gained on sloppy practices the rest of the week.
That part of the mission, he said, was accomplished.
“They know the importance of the game on Friday,” he said. “They worked hard. They’re ready.”
Their reward? A date with Howell (9-1 overall, 6-0 KLAA Gold) tonight at Brighton High School, a game that will be broadcast on The Livingston Post at about 7 p.m.
“They’re an exceptionally disciplined team,” Howell coach Tim Olszewski said of the Bulldogs (7-2, 3-1). “They’re fundamentally strong, they have girls who can score and they have a strong inside presence. I anticipate it’s going to be a dogfight, no pun intended, until the end.”
Each team has a 1-2 scoring combination, Leah Weslock and Lexie Miller for Howell and Sophie Dziekan and Dana Schemanske for the Bulldogs.
Howell might have an edge in the rest of the starting five, but Brighton could have the edge in overall depth, as many as 11 players to Howell’s seven.
“Everyone talks about (Howell’s) offense, and, obviously, Miller’s such a good trigger person and she can score and she distributes the ball so well and she’s got a lot of options to go to,” Ash said. “But I think it’s their defense that sets them up. They defend so well, and you have to have good possession and some patience against a team like that, because you’re not going to get easy scores on them.”
Howell didn’t play on Tuesday, and Olszewski and more than a few of his players took advantage of the night off to watch Brighton’s 36-22 win at Hartland.
“it gave the legs an opportunity to rest a little bit and we were able to watch them live, which is different than on film,” Olszewski said.
Ash says his players are just as familiar with Howell.
“They’ve probably scouted them as much as I have,” he said, laughing. “They know the importance of this game and they know they’re playing a very good team.”
And there’s the longtime rivalry between Howell and Brighton.
“We’re excited because it’s a rivalry game,” Olszewski said. “It’s one of our crosstown rivals, and we anticipate playing a good team, which they are. I hope we can put together a complete game.”