In his first season with the Auburn Hills Avondale girls basketball team, Darius Whiteside took his team through the tough Oakland Activities Association Red Division, and when it was over, hoisted a district trophy.
“The playoff run was a great one,” Whiteside said last week, a day after his team was ousted from a Class A regional semifinal in a 51-36 loss to Bloomfield Hills Marian. “It’s sad to see it come to an end earlier than we wanted, but it was exciting. The fans got behind us and really got us going.”
After a sub-.500 record in the regular season, thanks mainly to a tough schedule, the Yellow Jackets hit their stride when the tourney tipped.
They rolled to their first district title in two years and, against a Marian team that was 19-3 entering the game, trailed just 30-29 heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s a very good team. We were even through three quarters,” Whiteside said. “In the fourth, they made a few plays, went on a run and then buried their free throws.”
Marian shot 18 free throws in the fourth and made 13 to put the game away.
Avondale closed the year with an 11-12 overall record.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster. But when you’re playing the schedule we do, and you’re asking girls to learn new things and do new things, you know there will be ups and downs,” Whiteside said. “They never quit, though. That’s what I loved.”
And in doing so, they set up what should be a very bright future.
“It’s going to be fun next year,” he said. “We’ll have a different group of characters. With the junior varsity team only losing three games, we have some talent coming up. We’ll be quicker defensively, even if the basketball savvy won’t be as strong. … This program has really started to come around, and we want to keep this going.”