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Lenawee Christian High School basketball player Bree Salenbien (35) battles Michigan Center High School player Shealyn Tripp during a game Tuesday at MCHS.   Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

Michigan Center High School basketball player Shealyn Tripp has spent – what seems to be – a lifetime playing against 6-foot, 3-inch basketball player Bree Salenbien of Lenawee Christian High School.

Tripp held her own against the 2019 Division 4 Associated Press player of the year and a player who has more than two dozen Division 1 offers to play college basketball.

Unfortunately for Michigan Center and Tripp, the other Salenbien – Dani – caught fire in a 59-48 win over the Cardinals at MCHS to open the season.

The game is called the Furman Tip-Off in honor of longtime coach Scot Furman.

Dani Salenbien scored 17 points in the second half to erase a halftime deficit for Lenawee Christian.

The game featured two of the best basketball programs in lower Michigan. Lenawee Christian is the two-time defending state champions in Division 4 and Class D, and Michigan Center advanced to the state semifinals in Class B two years ago and won a district title in Division 3 last year.

Tripp has faced Bree Salenbien for years.

“We match up well because our games are similar,” Tripp said. “It is fun to play against her.”

Tripp and Bree Salenbien are both juniors and held each other in check Tuesday night. Tripp finished with 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while Salenbien tallied 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

Tripp gives up more than five inches to Salenbien in the matchups.

Michigan Center had the upper hand in the first quarter jumping out to a 14-5 lead in the first four minutes of action. Bree Salenbien received her second foul of the game late in the first period and had to sit for a while for LCHS.

Alize Tripp, Shealyn Tripp and Morgan Morris scored four points apiece as Michigan Center led 16-12 at the end of eight minutes of action.

Both teams scored 10 points in the second quarter giving Michigan Center a 26-22 lead.

Bree Salenbien had 10 points in the first half, coming back into the game midway through the second quarter. She did not pick up her third foul until the fourth quarter.

Lenawee County took their first lead of the game on a 3-point by Libby Miller.

“We tried to key on her (Miller) because she had several 3s last year against us,” MCHS Coach Joe Lusk said. “Things just slipped away in the second half.”

Teagan Haynes kept Michigan Center in the game with five points in the third quarter.

Dani Salenbien scored seven points for LCHS in the third quarter as they took a 39-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The older Salenbien scored 10 points in the fourth quarter helping LCHS pull out the win.

Lenawee Christian made 11-of-14 free throws down the stretch to earn the win.

LCHS Coach Jamie Salenbien – the two player’s father – said he is always amazed at his players.

“There is a lot of leadership and poise on this team,” Coach Salenbien said of LCHS. “Michigan Center is a talented team with high basketball IQs.”

Dani Salenbien scored 19 points and Miller finished with 14 points for LCHS.

Haynes scored 12 points, Alize Tripp pulled down 10 rebounds, and Morris finished with four steals for MCHS.

Michigan Center will travel to Concord for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Thursday. Lenawee Christian will host Hartland on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Dani Salenbien of Lenawee Christian High School (center) looks for a teammate during a game at Michigan Center on Tuesday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
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