Grass Lake High School basketball player Gabriella Lutchka attempts to drive past an Arbor Prep player during the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 regional final Wednesday at Whitmore Lake High School. Jeff Steers, JTV Sport
By Jeff Steers
Girls’ basketball is alive and well in Jackson County.
Three teams advance to the quarterfinal round last night in the Michigan High School Athletic Association girls’ basketball playoffs.
Grass Lake knocked off Arbor Prep 63-56 in a battle of No.1 versus No. 2 teams in Division 3.
Columbia Central defeated Leslie 47-24 to earn a rematch with Grass Lake in the quarterfinals. The two teams played earlier this season with the Warriors winning 59-42. The quarterfinal matchup will be played at 7 p.m. on Monday at Ypsilanti Lincoln High School.
Western earned its first regional title in girls’ basketball in school history with a 55-52 win over Lansing Catholic at Williamston High School in Division 2. The Panthers will face Ann Arbor Father Gabriel on Monday at Chelsea High School at 7 p.m. in the Division 2 quarterfinals.
Grass Lake had its hands full with Ann Arbor Prep on Wednesday night. All-state guard Lexus Bargesser picked up her third foul of the game three minutes into the second quarter and had to sit out the remainder of the half. But junior Gabrielle Lutchka responded scoring six points in the final three minutes of the second quarter to lift the Warriors.
“My five starters are all experienced players,” GLHS Coach Andrea Cabana said. “We knew at that moment we had to be patient and disciplined on defense and try to ride it out.”
Lutchka knew the Warriors had to hang on tight as Arbor Prep made a run after Bargesser picked up the third foul. The junior said she and Abrie Cabana took over the leading roles in the final five minutes of the second quarter to help keep the Warriors in the contest. She is used to being under pressure.
“I definitely can make those shots in big games,” Lutchka said.
A 3-point basket by Cabana right before the end of the second quarter tied the game at 28-all at halftime.
Arbor Prep jumped out to a six-point lead to start the third quarter, but a big 3-point basket by Cabana, a free throw by Bargesser, and another basket by Cabana tied the game near the midway point of the third quarter.
Lutchka hit another 3-point basket moments later giving Grass Lake the lead. The Warriors clung to a 42-40 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Mya Petticord took over for Arbor Prep at that time. The all-state guard scored nine consecutive point giving her team a 49-46 lead.
But Grass Lake fought back with a pair of baskets by Bargesser and two free throws by Lutchka for a 52-49 lead.
Arbor Prep found itself in foul trouble, picking up the team’s seventh foul with 4:22 remaining in the game.
The Warriors made 11-of-14 free throws down the stretch to pull out the victory.
For Lutchka, winning against one of the top teams in the state is huge for the Warriors.
“We have struggled to keep our heads in the game during some of these big games,” Lutchka said. “It is nice to beat a really good team.”
Lutchka finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Bargesser scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds and Cabana scored 16 points and dished three assists for the Warriors.
Petticord of Arbor Prep led all scorers with 27 points, including 13 in the final eight minutes of action.
Grass Lake improves to 17-1 on the season while Arbor Prep finishes its season with a 14-3 record. The regional title is the first since 1979 for Grass Lake.
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