By: Kevin Lozon, Macomb Daily
There is no talk about the standings around the Anchor Bay girls' basketball practices this season.
Tars ' coach Dave Kuznia said he never brings the subject up and it seems like not adding any more pressure is working for his squad this season.
Anchor Bay made 9-of-12 free throws in overtime, defeating host L'Anse Creuse North 53-47 in a MAC Blue Division game on Friday night, keeping the Tars a game behind league leader Lakeview in the standings.
"This is the first season where I don't mention anything about the standings," Kuznia said. "I've been focusing on the next opponent. We just take it one game at a time. I think I will continue on focusing on the next step going forward."
The Tars made 23-of-32 free throws in the game, but none were more important than those made in overtime. Senior Sarina Chupick scored all four of her points in the game in OT, knocking down four consecutive free throws in OT. The first two extended the Tars' lead to 47-44 with 41 seconds left, before her final two sealed the win with eight seconds to play.
"We practice free throws every day and I kind of expect that we'll make a good number of them," Kuznia said. "Sarina Chupick is a calm player. She's a senior and is a third-year varsity player and she came through when she needed to."
The game was close throughout. Anchor Bay led 34-31 heading into the final quarter, before LCN rallied to take a 38-34 lead on a three-point play by Olivia Chadwick with 5:51 to play. Chadwick added a jumper with 3:44 left, giving the Crusaders a 42-39 edge.
"North is an amazing team with the way they pressure the ball and the way they play up tempo," Kuznia said. "What we've been preaching the past couple of games is being a team and executing our game plan. We did that tonight."
The Crusaders eventually tied the game on a short jumper by Jekiah Mack with 14 seconds left, tying the game 44-44 and sending it to overtime.
"I felt like the momentum had swung away from us going into overtime," LCN coach Bob Johnston said. "We kind of ran out of gas. Give Anchor Bay credit."
Anchor Bay was led by Decker with 14 points, while Kelsie Thomas added 11 points, and Alyssa Ordakowski and Taylor Wolfe each chipped in nine points. The win improved the Tars' record to 6-3 overall, 4-1 league.
LCN was led by Brooke Daniels with 14 points, while Kelsey Duffey added nine points, Mack added eight points, and Chadwick finished with seven. Daniels, Mack and Chadwick are all freshmen, while Duffey is a sophomore. Johnston said the future is definitely bright at LCN, but the team is experiencing growing pains right now.
"(Decker) is an amazing athlete," Kuznia said. "She can drive the lane and plays great defense. She has great athletic talent and you won't find a harder worker on our team.
"The tough part is that we would love to get that win," Johnston added. "But they have to go through that learning process. You can't make silly little mistakes at different times, and that's part of the youth and they'll get it. We're a good group and I like our kids."
The loss dropped LCN's record to 9-2 overall, 3-2 league.
"I thought the competitive level of the game was really good," Johnston said. "Both teams competed really hard. Somebody has to win it, and somebody has to lose it."