Wayne Memorial tops Hartland, Grosse Pointe North outlasts Detroit King to advance to Class A semifinals
Southfield – In Jarvis Mitchell’s first season as head coach at Wayne Memorial in 2014-15, the Zebras finished with an 0-20 record, an obviously disappointing season for a program looking to improve from winning just one game in its previous two seasons.
But just one year later, the Zebras emerged as an up and coming program, finishing with a 15-5 record and only continued to improve in the following seasons, winning 17 games in 2015-16 and 17 games in 2016-17 and entered this season as one of the top teams in Michigan with high expectations.
Wayne Memorial reached new heights last week when the Zebras won their first regional title in school history, 66-36 over Belleville, setting up the program’s first ever quarterfinal against Hartland.
With the help of a balanced scoring attack with three players scoring in double figures, Wayne Memorial punched its ticket to the Class A semifinals for the first time in school history, topping Hartland 54-44 on Tuesday night.
Mitchell said that Tuesday’s win was one that he saw coming during his time and seeing his team improve year by year and said that it was the work they put in in the offseason and practices leading up to the playoffs that helped lead them to new heights.
“I saw it, you see, a lot of times, the players just need a coach to believe, sometimes you have to go the extra mile,” he said. “We spent countless hours in that gym, we were in that gym for four and five hours per day and we’re getting at it, we’re grinding, I’m running with them, we’re lifting weights. We’re doing the necessary things to get us here. But like I told them, the game wasn’t won yesterday, this game wasn’t won on the scouting report, this game was won when they were working out in the preseason, when they were running, when they were upset and still pushed through drills and stuff like that, that’s where this game was won.”
In the Class A semifinals, Wayne Memorial will face East Lansing, who defeated Muskegon in its Class A quarterfinal on Tuesday, on Friday at Calvin College in Grand Rapids at 2:00pm.
With Wayne Memorial holding a 41-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter, Hartland quickly cut the deficit to just three, after a basket from Grayson Cockerham and a Whitney Sollom with 6:15 left to play.
Sollom scored a game-high 22 points to lead the way for Hartland (20-6).
But not long after, the Zebras would use a quick 6-0 run, with five points coming from junior Jeanae Terry to take the Wayne Memorial lead back to nine, 47-38, with 3:30 left to play.
Throughout much of the season, Wayne Memorial senior Camree Clegg has shouldered much of the scoring and attention on her way to being named a Miss Basketball Finalist, but Mitchell praised Terry’s play and said she lived up to being a player with several Division 1 offers in hand.
“I expect that from Terry,” he said. “Right now, she’s at about 30-35 Division 1 offers and that’s how you’re supposed to play. I’m supposed to see that, we worked hard, so a lot of this is not really surprised, I’m just glad they executed.
Terry and Clegg both finished with a team-high 16 points to lead the way for Wayne Memorial (22-4).
Clegg would later seal the win for Wayne Memorial with a basket in the lane that extended the lead to 49-40 with less than three minutes left to play.
Clegg said that she felt the key for her and her teammates was their ability to dictate the pace of the game and keep Hartland out of their comfort zone, playing an up-tempo style.
“It was very important, we were trying to push the pace on them,” she said. “We didn’t want to play their game, we wanted them to play ours, so we just kept pushing the ball, pushing the ball at them when they weren’t set and we just kept on pressing.”
Grosse Pointe North 47, Detroit King 44
Throughout the majority of the season, Grosse Pointe North head coach Gary Bennett admitted that he didn’t quite feel his team was worthy of a top 10 ranking, despite the Norsemen entering a Class A quarterfinal game against Detroit King with a 19-5 record.
But after the Norsemen defeated Detroit King, a team that is no stranger to the Class A quarterfinals, 47-44, his team is starting to make him a believer.
“I told everyone at the beginning of the year, we are not an elite team in terms of the state and we weren’t,” Bennett said. “We weren’t even close. But now, they’re starting to make me a believer, because they’ve pulled together, they’re not a bunch of individuals, they like each other, they care about each other, they work hard together, that’s part of the reason they’re doing well. It’s just another character win, I think it takes quality kids with really good character to win games like this.”
After North took a 23-15 lead into halftime, Detroit King opened up the second half with a 12-6 run to cut the deficit down to just two, 29-27.
But not long after, North junior Julia Ayrault, who is already committed to Michigan State, responded with nine consecutive points for the Norsemen to push the lead back to double digits, 38-27 as North would hold a 38-32 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“It feels pretty good, we needed a momentum swing because they took over a little bit,” Ayrault said of her nine point run. “We needed something to turn it around.”
Ayrault finished with a game-high 27 points to lead North (20-5)
In the fourth quarter, King would make one final run and would trim the North lead all the way down to just one, 45-44 following a 3-pointer from junior point guard Del’Janae Williams late in the fourth quarter.
But once again, Ayrault had an answer as she would drive to through traffic for a lay-up while drawing a foul to push the lead back to 47-44 after missing the free throw.
King would have a shot at attempting a game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds, but Ayrault came up with a block with a half second left to play to secure the win for the Norsemen.