From the outset, there was little Willow Run could do to stop Ypsilanti Friday, as the two women’s basketball teams went head-to-head at Ypsilanti High School.
The full court press, nine first-quarter points by senior guard Mariah Hawkins and their own youth was too much for the Flyers to overcome, as the Phoenix set the pace early and controlled the game until its 66-32 conclusion.
The sound victory was especially crucial after Ypsilanti found themselves on the wrong end of an 84-42 drubbing at Romulus three days prior.
“After a loss like that to Romulus, we needed a confidence booster and I believe this game got the girls to pick their heads back up,” Ypsilanti head coach Chris Slater said. “You have to treat wins and losses the same, and we have to make sure we complete the game whether we’re winning or losing. Either way, we have to play the same game.”
Ypsilanti’s press forced 10 first-half Flyer turnovers and led to easy bucket after easy bucket. But, the Phoenix also turned the ball over 15 times throughout the game, which is an area of concern for Slater as his girls open up Southeastern Conference play next week.
“I think we were sloppy at points, especially when they went in their zone and we had turnovers that you can’t have,” he said.
Despite the turnovers, Ypsilanti was able to play solid defense and thwart any sort of momentum Willow Run could pull together.
“I was pleased with the way they ran the press,” Slater said.
The Phoenix got a particularly strong performance on defense out of Lenay Hall-Gregory, who finished with six steals and six rebounds.
“She didn’t score but she played a really solid defensive game for us,” Slater said. “She did a lot of the intangible things we need to win.”
Mariah Hawkins led all scorers with 19 points, 15 of which came in the first half.
“She’s playing with a chip on her shoulder because, for whatever reason, she was on JV for the last three years averaging 17 or 18 points,” Slater said. “She’s playing to prove that she belongs out there and I was quite pleased with her aggressiveness and the way she was going to the basket.”
Chastity House tallied 15 points to go with nine rebounds and four steals for the Phoenix.
“I was really impressed with some of the rebounds she got,” Slater said. “She’s pretty crafty for how small she is.”
Jasmine Jones added 13 points and Delisia Morris posted 11.
The loss to Romulus last Tuesday came after Slater had to miss practice for a week, and he told his girls not to worry about the loss and focus on the upcoming conference play.
“We’ll worry about them in the districts, he said. “That’s the last time we’ll be unprepared for a game.”
The Phoenix play at Chelsea on Tuesday at 7 p.m.