Country Day headed back to Class B final, beats Marshall 46-42

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 17, 2017

 Marshall coach Sal Konkle watches as her daughter Jill Konkle (22) battles for a loose ball with Country Day's Kaela Webb. The Redhawks ended their season 23-3.

Marshall coach Sal Konkle watches as her daughter Jill Konkle (22) battles for a loose ball with Country Day's Kaela Webb. The Redhawks ended their season 23-3.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

EAST LANSING — Since getting here a year ago and then going home, the mission all winter for the Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day girls basketball was to get back here — and go on.

On Friday night, the Yellowjackets did just that, knocking off the defending Class B state champs from Marshall High by a 46-42 count to earn a spot in Saturday’s 6 p.m. state final.

“This is real special,” Yellowjackets coach Frank Orlando said while fighting back tears. “It’s my 50th year, and I get so tied up in the emotions of all this. But these kids never quit. They play so hard, and God bless them for that.”

With a young roster, Country Day reached last year’s semifinal before falling to Grand Rapids South Christian 57-46, ending two wins shy of a second title in a row.

The entire roster returned at the start of this season, and the only goal was closing the year out on top.

Marshall, which returned all but one player from last year’s title team, lost its first game of the season before winning 23 of its next 24.

And from the start Friday night, it was clear nothing was going to come easy.

Marshall got a 3-pointer from Jill Konkle on its first possession and eventually led 19-17 by the end of the first quarter.

In the second, though, the Redhawks struggled to find any offense, and Country Day took a 27-25 lead into halftime.

The Yellowjackets led 33-30 entering the fourth.

The final quarter saw hard fouls, long 3-pointers and lead changes on what seemed like every possession.

With the game tied 42-42 with 47.1 seconds to play, Kaela Webb made two free throws to put Country Day up a pair.

On Marshall’s ensuing possession, Maxine Moore blocked a shot inside, Destiny Pitts grabbed the loose ball and made a pair of free throws after being fouled, and Marshall missed a late 3-pointer.

“We just missed too many shots tonight,” Marshall coach Sal Konkle said. “I mean, what does that team average? And we just held them to 46. You have to find a way to score more than 42.”

The Redhawks shot just 33 percent from the field and made just 4-of-18 3-pointers.

“This means a lot,” Pitts said. “It’s (Orlando’s) 50th year, and this is what we wanted to do.”

Pitts led Country Day with 13 points in the win to go with five assists.

Tylar Bennett added 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks, while Kaela Webb had nine points and eight rebounds.

Country Day (25-1) faces either Ypsilanti Arbor Prep or Freeland High in the Saturday final.

The Yellowjackets have a chance at their 12th state title in program history and first since 2015.

Nikki Tucker and Jill Konkle led the Redhawks, scoring 13 points, each. Natalie Tucker added nine points and 10 rebounds.

“It’s tough right now, but not because we lost, but because I have to say bye to this group,” Sal Konkle said. “I’ve been with this group since the second or third grade. This was a great group of seniors. But you know what, it’s new beginnings now. We have some good girls coming back and we’re going to go to work to be strong again next year.”

Marshall closes its season 23-3.