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West Bloomfield

Lloyd ‘can’t wait’ for next year after brilliant winter for Ferndale girls

March 13, 2013

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Amber Williams is one of the core players scheduled to return to the Ferndale basketball team next year. The junior helped guide the Eagles to a Class B regional final.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — It’s become common practice following a district, regional or even state final for both teams to remain present while the respective trophy is offered to the team moving on, or even celebrating history.

Following a March 7 regional final, Eric Lloyd wanted every one of his girls glued to the bench.

He wanted their eyes peeled, even as their emotions were torn.

“They needed to see this, see what winning at this stage is all about,” Lloyd said after his Ferndale High girls basketball team lost to Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. “It’s great to be here and get to experience what it’s like on the big stage. I wanted them to see what is out there for them.”

The Eagles’ magical season came to a close at the hands of a team that does nothing but win this time of year — every year.

The 57-39 victory by Country Day marked the 16th consecutive regional title for the perennial power.

Yet here, at a juncture the Yellowjackets know so well, was a feisty, driven and young Ferndale team hanging on, punch after punch.

Every time Country Day started to pull away, a big shot was hit or a defensive stop was made.

For more than a half, even as they trailed, Ferndale remained in the game, remained alive in the postseason.

“I think our defense and our team depth eventually got to them,” Country Day coach Frank Orlando would later say. “But they played a great game. That’s a good, young team.”

Lloyd’s girls gave everything they had, but a third quarter in which shots stopped falling and Country Day started running proved to be the difference.

The 18-point margin of victory was a bit misleading, but Lloyd was very sure of how this winter will be remembered.

“I’m not upset,” he said with a smile. “This was the greatest team we’ve had here in a decade.”

Ferndale closed the year 21-4.

The team was playing in a regional final for the first time since the 1990s, and its 15-0 mark in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division was good for the first league title since 1999.

“You can’t win every game,” Lloyd said, still beaming.

His confidence seemed to grow as the gym slowly emptied.

The first-year coach barely got to know his team before the season started.

Some 21-wins later, he said he “can’t wait” for next year, when a youthful core and a good portion of his starting lineup could return.

His leading scorers in the game, Amber Williams with 14 points, MiCaela Ellis with 10 and Taryn Ellis with six, are all juniors. They rarely left the court during the season.

“You learn from losses like this. Anytime you lose, you have to take it with you,” Lloyd said. “We’re going to work. We’re going to get at it this summer. I look forward to next year already.”

He was asked about expectations.

The smile grew.

“Expectations always stay the same,” he quipped. “You want to win as many games as you can. That never changes.”

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