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No. 2 Southfield-Lathrup cruises to district title, Top-ranked Marian awaits in regional semifinal

Basketball   | Jim Spadafore

No. 2 Southfield-Lathrup cruises to district title, Top-ranked Marian awaits in regional semifinal

Southfield-Lathrup has faced several major obstacles this season in compiling a 21-1 record and a No. 2 ranking in State Champs' Super 10.

 But none is as big as the opponent it will play next.

 Lathrup takes on defending state Class A champion and No. 1 ranked Birmingham Marian at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in a regional opener at Southfield High.

 The Chargers will be a big underdog, but that's just fine with them.

 "We have something to prove because a lot of people are doubting us," sophomore forward Deja Church said. "We know Marian is a really good team. But we just have to prove the doubters wrong."

 Church played a played a big part in Lathrup advancing by scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds Friday in a 62-39 victory over Berkley in a district championship game at Royal Oak.

 Senior guard Courtney Lucas scored 17 points, including 15 in the first half, and juniors Antoinette Miller and Taiye Bello each had 11 points to lead the Chargers.

 If playing the No. 1 team isn't enough incentive, Lathrup also has a little revenge on its mind. Marian eliminated Lathrup from the state tournament last season in the regional semifinals.

 "Marian jumped on us quick and we were kind of shell shocked," said Lathrup Coach Michele Marshall. "We had a really young team.

 "We knew all year long that we would have to go through them (Marian) in the state tournament. They are a very talented team. But we're looking for the challenge."

 Lathrup is still young. Four underclassmen start and eight of their 12 players are underclassmen.

 "Last year we were young and this year we're still young, but now we have experience," Marshall said.
 Lucas started in place of 4-foot-11 senior guard Kendall Terrell, who suffered a sprained knee in the last game and is out indefinitely. Lucas made of the most of her chance, making three three-point shots in the first half.

 "Courtney stepped in real nice," Marshall said. "We know she can score, but she also played good defense."

 Berkley (16-7) , which was led by junior Josephine Pittman's 12 points, trailed 17-7 after one quarter and 32-17 at halftime. But then Lathrup blew the game, opening the third quarter on a 16-0 run for a 50-26 lead.

 "We knew coming in Lathrup is very talented," Berkley Coach Jordan Gruppen said. "But we played hard and gave it everything we have. I'm proud of our season, which is one of the best we've had in quite a long time."

 Marshall gave a high five to everyone of her players during their district championship celebration. The thought of playing Marian can wait until Saturday.

 "We know this is a really tough challenge playing Marian," Miller said. "But it gives us a lot of motivation knowing we're the underdog."