FERNDALE — The process was more drawn out than anyone had hoped, both in the short term and the long term.
But after a drought that spanned more than a decade, the Ferndale High girls basketball program once again is the division champ.
“It’s great,” coach Eric Lloyd said last week. “These girls went out and earned it. This was something they set their sights on, and they went out and did it.”
The Eagles officially claimed the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title with a 54-51 victory against Bloomfield Hills Lahser on Feb. 19.
Ferndale (14-0) led the division nearly all season, but every time it had a chance to clinch the crown, the teams giving chase found a way to win, or Mother Nature canceled a scheduled game.
“It was tough for a while,” Lloyd said with a laugh. “It was so close, and we had to keep at it.”
The Eagles began the 2013 Class B playoffs Feb. 25 at home against Detroit Old Redford in a game played after press time.
The semifinal is against Hazel Park High Feb. 27 at Hazel Park. Game time was not available.
The Lahser win cemented what was a brilliant regular season, though.
The team finished 17-2 overall, won the first division title since 1999 and ended the campaign riding a nine-game winning streak.
None of which came as a surprise to Lloyd, the team’s first-year coach.
“The very first practice,” he said when asked when he knew this team could be something special. “I knew right then. I saw them play the way they did, and it was a blessing for me to step into this situation. … They played as a team every time out. To be truthful, I just coached them from the sidelines. But they went out there and wanted it. It made my job easy. They were so mentally sound.”
He hopes it’s not another 14 years before Ferndale is on top again.
“This is what we should aim for every year,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want this?”