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FCC takes on defending state champs

Tribune Staff • Mar 19, 2019 at 12:58 AM

The girls basketball season lives on this week for one local team as Fruitport Calvary Christian takes on the Division 4 state quarterfinals at Richland Gull Lake today at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to face either Gaylord St. Mary or Fowler in the state semifinals at Calvin College on Thursday.

The Eagles (20-5) have their work cut out for them as they earned a matchup with defending Division 4 state champion Adrian Lenawee Christian (23-2).

The Cougars are defined by the Salenbien family, with Dani Salenbien running point, Bree Salenbien dominating the post and father Jamie Salenbien running the show as head coach.

While Jamie handles plays as the defending Division 4 Coach of the Year, and Dani runs the offense, the star of the show is defending Class D Player of the Year Bree.

The sophomore uses her tall frame to generate a presence on the inside, but don’t mistake her as a rebounding, shot blocking forward. Salenbien can score with the best of them.

The sophomore has already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark.

Just 18 games into her second season on the varsity team, Salenbien broke the barrier usually reserved for four-year varsity starters. For context, Calvary’s Kelsey Richards also holds the distinction as a 1,000-point career scorer, but it took until her junior season to break the barrier, including a year playing with the varsity team as an eighth-grader.

Salenbien scored 562 points as a freshman, leading the Cougars to their first basketball state championship in school history and a one-loss record at 26-1.

This year’s campaign has been slightly less dominant. The Cougars dropped their season opener to the defending Class B state champions Michigan Center, 59-54, and didn’t lose again until their Feb. 26 matchup with Grass Lake, 64-53.

Their path through the playoffs has seen wins over Pittsford 49-41, Waldron 61-34, Morenci 58-29, Athens 65-40 and Portland St. Patrick 59-24.

They have a knack for scoring, failing to break 50 points in just two contests all year and breaking 70 points six times. As for defense, Adrian Lewanee Christian has given up just four 50-point games, holding their opponents under 30 points seven times.

The Cougars do not compete in a conference, scheduling the best schedule they can as an independent team, allowing them to avoid repeat matchups to test their skill against varied competition.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. between these two powerhouses at Richland Gull Lake High School.

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