‘They’ve exceeded my expectations’
Published January 16, 2013
He stopped short of saying he was surprised with the results so far, yet Tim Micklash struggled to find another way to describe his Farmington Hills Harrison girls basketball team.
“I guess I’d say they’ve exceeded my expectations,” he offered with a laugh.
Micklash spoke shortly before a Jan. 8 home game against Bloomfield Hills Andover.
To that point in the season, his girls had taken the court nine times, exited with victories in eight of those and sat one win shy of equaling last year’s total.
“To be 8-1 after nine games is pretty cool,” Micklash added. “They’ve been focused, though. They’ve come out and simply tried to get better every day.”
Two minutes into the game, it seemed the ninth win would have to wait.
Harrison trailed 8-0, couldn’t get its offense going and had no answer for an Andover team that was 19-3 a year ago.
But as the night progressed, the team’s athleticism, patience and ultimate closing power surfaced.
A flurry of forced turnovers late in the first half erased the deficit and gave the Hawks the lead.
By the time the fourth quarter ended, Harrison had secured a 51-45 win.
Ten games in, nine wins.
Not bad for a team that was 9-12 last winter and brought back just three varsity veterans.
“You had to wonder what it was going to be like,” said senior Marissa Cotton, one of the three returnees, with a smile. “You had to wonder how it would play out. But we’re pretty happy so far.”
But in looking back to see just why a collection of varsity rookies has played so well, Micklash pointed to a couple of keys.
“They had a great summer, and I think it all started there,” he said. “The three girls we brought back have done a great job. The girls up from the junior varsity have filled their roles perfectly, and we have a pair of very talented freshmen who’ve contributed right away.”
In the Andover win, freshman Amber Stephens led all scorers with 19; freshman Kristen Nelson was the team’s third-highest scorer with 10.
“We really started to build in the summer. We saw just how good we could be,” sophomore Katie Conrad said. Conrad and fellow sophomore Kyla Roland are also varsity vets. “Practice has been different, too. There’s something about the way we come to the gym for two hours and work together.”
With Cotton the team’s lone senior, and a starting lineup that includes two freshmen and two sophomores, Micklash came into the year knowing the importance of making every practice count.
“And this is one of the best groups I’ve ever had, as far as the way they practice and the way they work,” he said.
Harrison’s 10-1 record at press time includes a 7-1 mark in the Oakland Activities Association White Division, one game behind Oxford.
The Hawks’ lone loss at press time was a 30-27 setback to Oxford on Nov. 30.
The teams meet again Jan. 22 in Farmington Hills.
But even that is too far down the line to worry about, according to Micklash.
“I don’t like to put a win total or set a specific thing to aim for, as far as goals are concerned,” Micklash said. “We have some goals out there, and they are all still within reach. But the main thing for us is taking it one day at a time and finding a way to get better every time out. When you’re able to do that, everything else takes care of itself.”