South Lyon East defeated Dexter 53-39 in a Division 1 girls’ basketball District semifinal game at Brighton High School on Wednesday night. The loss ended an outstanding season for the Dreadnaughts under the direction of first-year head coach Lauren Thompson.
The Dreadnaughts finished with an excellent 18-4 overall record and a share of the SEC White Division title with Chelsea.
It wasn’t the way the Dreads hoped their season would end. They started slow against South Lyon East, and even though they made a strong run at the end of the third quarter to get back in the game, they could never overcome the big deficit.
“I think we had overall 12 turnovers in the first half and 11 of them happened in the first quarter so that’s going to be hard to come back from,” Thompson said.”But we did clean up our turnovers in the second half and I thought we bounced back well.
“We just couldn’t slam the door. We couldn’t finish it.”
Even with the season-ending loss, Thompson was proud of her team and is hopeful for next year.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am with how these girls played,” said Thompson. “They gave every ounce of their beings every practice and every game. They’re tough girls. We’re going to miss our three seniors, but we’re very young and I look forward to getting better over the summer.”
Senior Kylie Cabana led Dexter with 12 points. Sophomore Brianna Rodriguez scored all of her 10 points in the second half. Senior Kaila Simpson and junior Kylee Niswonger each scored six for the Dreadnaughts.
Nina Perl and Lucy Cronin combined for 37 points for South Lyon East (15-7), who will face host Brighton in Friday’s championship. The Bulldogs (19-3) defeated Skyline 59-16 in the other semifinal.
East got off to a quick start as they started the game on a 13-4 run, which included a 3-pointer from Cronin. She knocked down another 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the first quarter to give her team a 16-4 lead, which remained until the end of the quarter. Despite the slow start, Dexter continued to try and climb back into the game.
In the second quarter, Niswonger finished a layup with 7:29 on the clock to pull the Dreadnaughts to within 10 points. Sydney Pnacek scored her first points of the night with a rebound and score with 3:07 left in the quarter. But Cronin extended the Cougars’ lead to 25-10 with a put-back of her own.
East led 25-12 at halftime.
Rodriguez got the scoring going in the third quarter with a right-handed layup but South Lyon East immediately responded with a 5-0 run, which included a 3-pointer from Perl. Cronin finished a tough layup to put East up 34-16, their largest lead of the game, and it looked like the game was all but over with 3:47 left in the third quarter.
But then Dexter started to battle back. Niswonger began pushing the ball aggressively and it was leading to open shots. She made back-to-back mid-range jumpers to cut the deficit to 37-29. The Dreadnaughts went on a 14-3 run over the last 4 minutes of the quarter and trailed 37-30 heading into the fourth quarter.
But the Cougars started the fourth quarter on an 8-1 run, and Dexter was unable to make another comeback. Cabana finished a layup and got fouled to cut East’s lead to 45-33 but Cronin responded with a smooth jumper to push the lead to 14 points.