Four players score in double figures as Country Day wins 3rd title in the last four seasons by defeating Jackson Northwest, 64-48
Grand Rapids - There doesn't seem to be much disagreement that the last four Detroit Country Day teams have faced different challenges along the state tournament trail.
But Yellowjackets senior guard Kaela Webb said the one common denominator was never more evident than in Saturday's 64-48 win over Jackson Northwest in the Class B final at Calvin College's Van Noord Arena.
Webb said the club that won the 2015 championship was an underdog and that last year's team was likely the most experienced. This year was a blend of the two, but the trait all three have in common is the pure effort the players put into the season. In 2016 Country Day lost in the state semifinals.
"We work hard and can pick things up," said the Miss Basketball finalist. "We' worked all last summer, we worked in the field house, we worked with the hockey team who also won a state championship. For this team, it's been that work and the toughness that comes out of it."
Against Northwest, which had won its last 23 consecutive games, the work paid off after leading just 34-30 a minute and a half into the third quarter.
Country Day scored 16 of the next 25 points and led, 50-39, at the start of the fourth. Northwest never got any closer than 11 the rest of the way.
The state title is coach Frank Orlando's 13th, including five since 2008. Orlando, who brushed aside questions on a possible retirement following the game as 10 of his 12 grandchildren were on hand to witness the latest championship, said championships are still "a blessing."
"I remember talking to a friend once who coached, (former Birmingham Brother Rice football coach) Al Fracassa, and I told him I'd be happy if I won one championship," Orlando said. "I'm real happy now."
Country Day (23-4) shot 48.9 percent (22-45) from the floor against Northwest, held a 28-20 rebounding edge and forced 20 turnovers to only nine of its own.
Northwest coach Ryan Carroll also noted another strength which actually surprised his team. Country Day had four players with 11 or more points, four players who hit a 3-pointer and key points from others he didn't expect to be there.
"They knocked down some shots while we shot ourselves in the foot when we tried to come back," he said. "We watched a lot of film on them and they had girls step up and hit shots that we didn't think would."
Webb was actually the fourth-leading scorer with 11 points on just 3-of-12 shooting. Jasmine Powell had 19 points, Maddie Novak 13 and Adrian Folks 12. Western Michigan-bound Maxine Moore was held to four field goal attempts and six points.
Webb said the experience of the last four seasons was a major factor in the state championship. If there is anything the team learned during those years, it's to maintain a competitive edge.
"We came in hungry and wanting to continue (the run)," she said. "This team is special because we were able to find our own identity."
Junior Sydney Shafer led Northwest with 22 points and eight rebounds. Ella Bontrager had 10 points and four assists.