After winning a district title on Friday over rival Allen Park Cabrini, Riverview Gabriel Richard returned home on Monday to host the Division 3, Region 22 semifinals.
Richard played in the second semifinal of the night and squared off with a powerful Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in what was the first meeting between the two schools since December of 2011.
That late-season surge for the Pioneers came to end, as SMCC rolled to a 47-16 victory. That point total for Richard is the fewest since January of 2016, a span of 74 games.
Richard coach Omar Ahart did make note of some things they could have done differently but ultimately credited SMCC for its preparation and execution on Monday.
“Defensively, (SMCC) tried to bring the press up but not really ‘press’ us,” Ahart said. “We worked a lot on handling a 2-3 zone. Unfortunately, our girls could not adapt to the pressure they threw at us. Hats off to (SMCC coach John Durbin).
“I would have like to see our girls attack the basket more, Ahart added. “On film, we saw some potential gaps but we just didn’t play as fast we normally like to. That is a credit to them and their scouting.
The 47 points allowed by Richard snapped a string of five consecutive games in which they allowed fewer than 30 points.
Ahart said the biggest problem for his team defensively was trying to contain the Kestrels’ Isabelle Alston and Juliana Paoletti down low. That duo combined for 22 of the 47 points for SMCC; the latter Paoletti had a game-high 14 points. Paoletti and Alston were two of nine different Kestrels to score in the game.
For Richard, Maddie Szczechowski had a team-high five points, all of which came in the first quarter and was all that the Pioneers scored in that opening stanza. Szczechowski, who poured in the only triple for either side in the game, was one of seven different scorers for Richard.
Sydney Balan, Angela Cabalang, Isabella Assimacopoulos, Laura Lipinski, and Sharmaye Becraft all each tallied one field goal while Destiny Jones was 1-for-4 from the free-throw line.
“We like to play more of a ‘pace and space’ or a transition type of basketball,” Ahart said. “Towards the middle of the season, we had more speed to what was going on. The key to having more speed is teaching them how to run. We did a better job of that this year and that is all you can try and do every year.
“I just really enjoy watching these girls play and develop,” Ahart continued. “These girls play real hard, that has been our philosophy and then you just let the chips fall where they may.”
SMCC moved on to the regional final and it was set to play on Wednesday against Ypsilanti Arbor Prep (17-6), which defeated Dearborn Advanced Tech in the first semifinal game on Monday at Richard.