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March 14, 2012

Ferndale girls hoops team falls in regional semis, looks to make playoff push next season

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Ferndale High senior Janecia Jenkins goes in for a shot during a Class B district playoff game. The Eagles won their first district title since 1999 before falling to Dearborn Divine Child 73-45 March 6 in a regional semifinal.

FERNDALE — The Ferndale girls basketball team’s season ended March 6 in a 73-45 regional semifinal loss to Dearborn Divine Child. It was a game Eagles coach Berwyn Ellis didn’t see his squad playing in at the start of the season.

“Every year, teams set goals, and last year, we said we wanted to win one game in the state playoffs,” said Ellis, the second-year coach of a Ferndale squad that finished the season 12-12.

That one win blossomed into three and a district title, which Ferndale locked up March 2 in a win over Ferndale University.

The triumph marked the school’s first girls hoops district title since 1999.

The Eagles won that district title after losing two players to transfers before the start of the season, according to Ellis, which transformed Ferndale into a smaller team.

The smaller roster showed early in the season, as the Eagles started 0-4 on their way to finishing fifth in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

The squad could have folded at that point, but opted instead to fight and battled its way to that district championship.

“Being able to share (the district title) with some young ladies who decided to work with what we had and move forward,” Ellis said. “After falling short last year in a game we let slip away, we didn’t want to have that feeling again.”

Ellis said he believes winning the Class B district title brings pride and respect to the Ferndale girls basketball program. Ellis added that taking the title in just two short years — after having just four girls at his very first practice at the school — shows the girls what happens when they work hard.

“It lets the ladies know change can come fast sometimes when you believe,” Ellis said. “To be able to walk into our gym and see ‘2012 district champs’ shows much success.

“It’s even better knowing we came from the bottom up and had nothing handed to us.”

Ellis now doesn’t expect to have to climb so far to reach future goals. Sophomore Micaela Ellis and Taryn Stephens are slated to return in the Eagles’ starting backcourt. Ellis led the team in assists and 3- pointers this season, while Stephens was the squad’s top scorer.

Freshman Raven Brinkley and Cydney Ellis will serve as defensive stoppers next year, while Taylor Hall, a junior who averaged nearly four blocks a game, will patrol the post.

“Next season, we look forward to being a contender in (the OAA Blue Division),” Ellis said. “After everything that happened at the start of the season, all we wanted to do was finish above .500 and win a game or two in the playoffs.

“Next season, I know for sure we’ll work harder and see if we can do at least one game better than this year.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.