Grosse Pointe South has waited almost exactly a year for another chance at Grand Haven after the Buccaneers edged the Devils by a point in the 2012 girls basketball state championship game.
South will get its shot at revenge today.
Both the Buccaneers and the Blue Devils won their semifinal contests on Friday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, setting up a noon showdown between the two teams that have traded the No. 2 state ranking all season.
Buccaneers’ coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, for one, isn’t thrilled to be seeing South again, especially after witnessing the Blue Devils’ dominating 48-29 win over an unranked Dexter team.
While Grand Haven graduated four seniors and several other key players from last year’s state championship team, South returns nearly its entire lineup from a year ago.
That group includes first-team all-state center Claire DeBoer, who scored just six points but added eight rebounds and three steals in Friday’s semifinal win.
Also back is sensational sophomore guard Cierra Rice, who nearly beat the Bucs a year ago. Her three-point play put Grosse Pointe South ahead in the closing seconds, only to see Grand Haven’s Shar’Rae Davis race to the other end of the court and hit the game-winner.
Rice had another shot to win the game for her team in the closing second, but had that shot tipped away by the Bucs’ Abby Cole, who is Grand Haven’s lone returning starter from last year.
Rice, a special-mention all-state pick, poured in 21 points on Friday, hitting 9-of-13 field goal tries.
Guard Bre’nae Andrews also had a big game against Dexter, making 6-of-10 shots and finishing with 16 points. Andrews is a newcomer, having transferred to South from Grosse Pointe Liggett.
“They’re pretty good,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said of South. “The biggest thing that stands out is, they’ve got decent size, and they’re very deep. They return Claire DeBoer, one of the best players in the state, and Cierra Rice, who had 26 the other night.”
Grand Haven struggled against the pressure defense applied by Westland John Glenn on Friday. It will be more of the same against South today.
“They trap all over the floor,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “They’ll come out of a timeout, back into a 2-3 zone, then run two guards at you. They trap in their 2-2-1 press. The whole game, they’re pressing, trapping. They’re very athletic, and they’re very good at every position.
“Obviously, we need to play better than we did (Friday) taking care of the ball against pressure, because this team is a lot deeper.
“This whole season, their goal has been to get back to the Breslin and beat Grand Haven, because of the way things went down last year. But hey, we’ve got a good chance to win. We’re good, too.
“And they don’t have Abby Cole.”