Junior Lola Ristovski, shown in the regional title game against Brown City, scored 25 points and nine points in the Knights' final two games of the season. photo by Bob Bruce.
March 20, 2014The University Liggett girls' basketball team had its chances to make the state championship game, but it just wasn't meant to be.
The Knights lost 34-30 to St. Ignace LaSalle in a Class C state semifinal played last week at the Breslin Center.
Head coach Omar Ahart knew his Knights had to play their game to beat favored St. Ignace. Neither team played well, but it was the Saints' rebounding which was the difference.
The Saints finished with 59 rebounds, compared to only 36 for the Knights. Once the Knights shot the ball, they weren't getting second-shot chances and their potent pressure defense wasn't a factor as neither team shot the ball well and the Knights committed 18 turnovers to only 12 for the Saints.
The Knights fell behind 5-2 in a low scoring first quarter and trailed 18-12 at the half. It was 28-19 after three quarters, but the Knights made a come-back, tying it at 30 when freshman Nia Ahart sank a shot with 2:36 left.
St. Ignace made the winning basket with 1:37 left and after a missed Liggett shot and a turnover, the Saints added two more free throws with only 24 seconds left to seal the victory.
Junior Lola Ristovski led the Knights with nine points, followed by Ahart with eight, senior Angelia Evangelista with six, junior Jessica Rotzoll with five (and 12 rebounds), and sophomore Kendall McConico with two.
Liggett made a statement in its quarterfinal game, beating previously unbeaten Blissfield 50-47.
The Knights used its pressure defense, clutch shooting and great free-throw shooting to win the game at Whitmore Lake High School.
"Wow the girls played a great game and they believed they could win this game," Ahart said. "They showed no fear what-so-ever and took it right at Blissfield.
"This was a hostile environment with a lot of fans rooting for Blissfield and they had a little lead in the second quarter. However, the girls made some big plays."
Ristovski put the Knights on her shoulders, scoring half of their 50 points with her 25-point outburst. She was also 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
McConico added 10 points and made two big free throws in the final few seconds and freshman Nia Ahart added eight points.
Others who played well were Evengelista, Rotzoll and freshman Jasmine Dickens.
Liggett finished the season 20-4 overall.