Martin senior Faith Guritz (left) drives around a Colon defender during the Clippers’ Division 4 regional semifinal win. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)Jaclyn Hildebrand snagged a team-best seven rebounds in the regional win over Colon. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

Fast start propels Clippers past Colon in regional semifinals

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Martin senior Freddie Elkins finished the Clippers’ Division 4 regional semifinal against Colon on Tuesday, March 10, with seven points, six rebounds and three steals.
Her contributions went far beyond those numbers, however.
“We had many great individual performances tonight, but I feel the need to point out the game Freddie had,” Martin coach Ben Schipper said. “Her energy and intensity sparked us tonight. She was tough around the basket and had phenomenal defense, even when getting pulled out to the perimeter, where she drew a great 5-second violation for us.”
That spark from Elkins helped the Clippers jump out to a commanding 20-0 lead after one quarter en route to posting the 40-23 victory over the Magi.
The win upped Martin’s record to 22-1, running its winning streak to 11 straight.
The Clippers also scored the first four points of the second quarter on a 3-pointer from Bri Warner and a free throw from Kiaya Warner to extend its lead to 24-0 before Colon finally got on the scoreboard with 5:52 left in the second period.
“We obviously had a great start,” Schipper said. “We came out of the gate with a lot of energy and intensity, which is something we’ve really done all season. Great starts have been one of the characteristics of this team and it showed again tonight.”
Playing a hard-nosed brand of defense has also been a character trait of the Clippers, and it was the case again against Colon.
Martin forced the Magi into 11 first-quarter turnovers, while limiting Colon to four shots during the opening frame.
“These girls get after it on defense,” Schipper said. “We did a great job getting in the passing lanes and really disrupting what (Colon) wanted to do offensively. We’re able to frustrate teams and then they start making some decisions they wouldn’t normally make.”
Elkins led the first-quarter onslaught for the Clippers, scoring six of her seven points in the frame. Faith Guritz—who started the scoring with a jumper at the 7:13 mark—added five points in the opening stanza, while Bri Warner had four points.
Guritz finished with a game-topping 12 points and five steals. Bri Warner matched Elkins with seven points and three steals, while Kiaya Warner had five points, four steals and three assists.
Jaclyn Hildebrand chipped in with a game-high seven rebounds to go with two points. Gracie Shettler added three points, with Jordyn Seiser and Natalie Yowler each going for two to round out the scoring.
“We came in with a good game plan and I thought we executed it really well, especially at the start of the game,” Schipper said.
Martin’s offense did come back to earth in the final three quarters, as the Clippers totaled 20 points during the final three frames.
“After the first quarter, we got into a bit of a funk offensively,” Schipper said. “I felt like we just kind of coasted, which is something we have fought at different times this year. Thanks to our defense, though, we maintained a healthy lead allowing our bench to get more valuable experience.”
Colon finished with 27 turnovers as compared to 11 for Martin. The Clippers scored more than half of their points—25, to be exact—off turnovers.
“Overall, it was another impressive defensive performance,” Schipper said.
The Clippers were scheduled to face St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran (21-1) with the regional championship and a berth in the state quarterfinals at stake on Thursday, March 12. But the game, along with all MHSAA activity, has been indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus.

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