There’s no league title at stake tonight.
Hartland took care of that on Friday, when its 39-37 win at Brighton clinched the KLAA Gold Division girls basketball title for Howell.
No one thinks that will dim the luster of tonight’s rematch at Howell High School, which will be broadcast on The Livingston Post starting at around 7 p.m.
“They look forward to (playing Howell),” Brighton coach Paul Ash said of his players. “They’re excited about it. We could play them four times and be excited every time we play.”
It’s the final game of the KLAA regular season, with the league tournament starting on Friday night.
“From now on, every game counts,” Howell coach Tim Olszewski said. “We play Tuesday, then the (league) tournament, then the state tournament. From here on out, every game has a huge consequence to it. And I think the girls like playing under those conditions.”
Howell (14-2 overall, 10-1 KLAA Gold), has been off for a week, having had a bye last weekend. Brighton (12-4, 8-3) needs a win to clinch at least a tie for second in the Gold, depending on how Hartland does against Novi.
“it’s our home court, against our biggest rival,” Olszewski said. “They’re going to want to knock us off real bad and we’ve got to be ready for the pressure and attitude they can bring to the court. They’re a good basketball team, and if we’re not ready, we can get caught.”
Olszewski wasn’t surprised by Brighton’s second half against Hartland, where the Bulldogs scored 33 points after being shutout for the first nine minute of the game and trailing 15-4 at halftime.
“I would have liked to know what the outcome would have been if they played five more minutes,” Olszewski said. “But it was a typical Brighton-Hartland, Hartland-Howell, Howell-Brighton kind of game. … It’s a healthy rivalry, but you’ve got to throw records out the door, you have to throw all of those things out the door.”
As for Brighton, Ash says a good start is paramount.
“Especially on the road,” he said. “You don’t want to play uphill the entire game, especially on the road. We need to be a little more consistent with our scoring. Consistency would be huge.”
As for playing four times this season, the KLAA tournament has provided opportunities for teams to do just that. The teams could meet again in both the conference tournament and the state tournament.
“We certainly could,” Ash said, laughing. “We’ll see how all that shakes out.”