Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s girls basketball team, which has finished as the Class C state runner-up the past two seasons, is back at practice in preparation for a new season.
Despite the success the program has recently enjoyed, first-year coach Omar Ahart isn’t interested in making grand statements about how the team has set a new standard for the program with their back-to-back state final appearances.
Instead, Ahart’s goals for his team are simple: work hard and get better.
“Like I told the parents when I first came in, the goal I have set for the girls is to become better basketball players,” said Ahart, who coached at Detroit Cass Tech the past two seasons. “The only guarantee is there is no guarantee. I didn’t come in promising we were going to go to the state finals. We’re going to play as hard as possible and get as far as possible. That’s our goal.”
Although Liggett has lost Madison Ristovski, last year’s Michigan’s Miss Basketball who now suits up for the University of Michigan, there is still plenty of talent on the Knights’ roster. In fact, during his short time as Liggett’s coach, Ahart has already discovered what he believes to be the primary strength of the team.
“We can shoot the basketball,” he said. “I have never had a basketball team that can shoot the jump shot as well as these young ladies can. We’re going to play kind of a style of Loyola Marymount when they had (Bo) Kimble and (Hank) Gathers. We’re going to get shots up, and if we’ve got an open jump shot, we’re going to take it.”
Liggett returns five players from last year’s squad, including Haleigh and Lola Ristovski, who started last season.
Ahart is counting on them to help lead the way.
“Haleigh being a senior (and) being in the state finals a couple years in her career, I’m expecting some good leadership,” he said. “Of course, put the ball in the basket. But I need her to lead by example, and her sister to kind of pick up where she left off last year in her learning role, and just add to her game.”
Liggett competes in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference, and Ahart thinks his team will have an opportunity to compete for a top spot in the league.
“I’m confident. We should be one or two in the conference,” he said.
Liggett is scheduled to tip off its season at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at home against defending Class B state champion Goodrich.