Southfield A&T begins season with aspirations of a state title

By: Mike Moore | Southfield Sun | Published December 1, 2017

 Southfield A&T sophomore Cheyenne McEvans looks to drive past a teammate in a recent practice. The Warriors made it to the Class A state semifinals last year.

Southfield A&T sophomore Cheyenne McEvans looks to drive past a teammate in a recent practice. The Warriors made it to the Class A state semifinals last year.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 Southfield A&T freshman Kayla Trammer is guarded by senior Shawna Manning during a recent practice. The Warriors are looking to take the next step this season and win a state title.

Southfield A&T freshman Kayla Trammer is guarded by senior Shawna Manning during a recent practice. The Warriors are looking to take the next step this season and win a state title.

Photo by Donna Agusti

SOUTHFIELD — The winter of 2017 ended in the Breslin Center for the Southfield A&T girls basketball team.

If Michele Marshall and her squad have any say in it, the 2018 winter will do likewise — albeit with a slightly different twist.

“As simple as I can put it, this team wants to get back,” Marshall said earlier this week. “They want to get back.”

Last year’s squad kicked off the season expecting to play for a state title, then won 22 of its first 26 games to reach the Class A semifinals.

In a back-and-forth classic, East Kentwood High held on for a 55-51 victory, ending the Warriors’ season with a 22-5 record.

Fast forward to now and, well, there’s a feeling more of the same could be in store.

“Things look pretty good so far,” Marshall said. Southfield A&T officially opened the season Nov. 28, after press time. “When you lose a talent like we did, there are adjustments that have to be made. But so far, it’s been pretty good.”

The biggest talent lost was Deja Church, the team’s leading scorer and otherwise go-to player in all circumstances.

She finished with 26 points in the semifinal, scoring more than half the entire team’s output.

But there are three other starters back in the mix, all of whom are expecting another step forward.

Junior Alexis Johnson returns as the second-leading scorer (15 points per game) and leading rebounder (10). Sophomore Cheyenne McEvans (12 points and eight rebounds per game) is back after starting as a freshman, while senior D’Layna Holliman is set to start for a fourth year in a row after averaging 10 points, three assists and three steals.

Shawna Manning started as a freshman at Southfield-Lathrup two years ago, and she returns to that role now.

The fifth starter could be the piece needed for that long run, Marshall said, and it’s Detroit Renaissance transfer Kayiona Willis.

Marshall said she learned Nov. 27 that Willis is being allowed to play by the Michigan High School Athletic Association after starting this academic year at Renaissance.

“She’s the piece we really were missing as that true point guard,” Marshall said. “She’s good. She’s only in ninth grade, but she’s going to make a difference.”

Needless to say, there won’t be many teams that can match the Warriors’ starting skill.

“That’s where the bench has to step up,” Marshall added. “The size off the bench is good, but it’s also girls who haven’t played a ton.”

March is when the best of the best will be crowned. For now, November is a chance for the Warriors to find their legs, gain chemistry and lay the foundation for what many expect could be another lengthy run.

“The key for us is improvements from game to game,” Marshall added. “We have to get better every time out. If we do that, I think we’re a team that can find its stride in the middle of the season and go from there.”