AE girls’ step up in final minutes
HILLMAN — Arenac Eastern's girls’ basketball team had its back against the wall Thursday, with leading scorer Chelsea Dery fouling out with the Eagles nursing a slim lead with five minutes to play.
But instead of folding on the road, AE held the Tigers scoreless the rest of the way and hit key free throws down the stretch to take a 40-30 victory.
"The rest of the kids really stepped up," said AE coach Butch Beckham. "When Chelsea fouled out we didn't have much choice but to run our delay (offense) for most of the rest of the game.
"The girls did a great job of taking the air out of the ball."
Hillman was forced to foul the Eagles down the stretch. Briana Dery responded with 3-of-4 free throws in the final minutes, Ashley Navarre hit 1-of-2 and Maddie Nelson capped the game with a fast break basket when the Eagles broke Hillman's full court press.
"The kids kept their composure and made it happen in a tight game," Beckham said. "They showed a lot of patience in the last three or four minutes."
The Eagles struggled with their shooting for most of the game, making just 27 percent from the floor and 43 percent from the free throw line.
"We missed a lot of shots we usually make," Beckham said. "It's a good thing we play good defense. The kids give great effort on defense; they never take a night off and rarely even take a play off."
The Eagles led 14-13 at the half, expanded it to 25-21 after three quarters but saw Hillman chip away before finishing strong.
Chelsea Dery led AE (11-2, 8-2 North Star League) with 12 points and eight rebounds, with Briana Dery adding nine points, eight steals and seven rebounds and Danielle Jurek chipping in with six points and five assists.
Macie Schook led Hillman (5-7, 4-5) with 14 points.