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November 19, 2012

Ford II girls basketball team hopes familiarity breeds success

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The Utica Ford II girls basketball team has plenty of experienced players back in the lineup. Pictured is senior Ashley Nickens, a transfer student who is expected to contribute right away for the Falcons.

Of the 13 players on the Utica Ford II girls basketball team, six return from last season, with four having logged major minutes.

That experience and continuity will be key, if the Falcons are going to have success, according to coach Matt Joseph.

“We were very young last year,” said Joseph, in his ninth year with Ford. “I really like the approach this year’s team has taken. They worked extremely hard in the offseason and have shown great energy so far this preseason.”

Of the six returning players, three — senior Cris Harper, and sophomores Alex Sorgi and Rachel Chriss — were starters last season. Junior Renee Shelton saw a lot of playing time last year, as well. Senior Jordan Polsinelli has taken on a leadership role, too, according to Joseph.

All five are expected to lead Ford II, along with senior Ashley Nickens — a 6-foot-3-inch transfer from Utica Stevenson.

The Falcons are looking to improve on a season that saw them finish last in the Macomb Area Conference Red division. Ford II went 3-9 in league play and 8-13 overall. The Falcons were in a number of close contests, being outscored by just 3.5 points per game throughout the course of last season.

Ford II will continue to utilize a pressing defense and a fastbreak offense, according to Joseph. The Falcons’ coach said he will implement an inside-out attack on offense to better utilize Nickens.

“We feel we can run with most teams and go up-tempo because of our quickness at the guard position,” Joseph said. “Our league is as challenging as it has ever been, so each night will be a tremendous challenge for us.”

Ford II is battling to win its first division title since 2002. Joseph said the road to that possible championship is rocky, as Grosse Pointe South, which made it to the state finals last season, returns all but two players. Macomb Dakota, which went 17-6 last season, should be strong, as well, according to Joseph.

“I feel this league is as tough as ever, and I’m excited for our kids to start competing,” he said.

The Falcons open the season with a matchup against St. Clair, set for 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at Ford II.

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