Lutheran North girls basketball coach talks postseason prep

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published February 14, 2017

 Macomb Lutheran North senior guard Abby Dubak fires up a shot during a Jan. 26 loss to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. The Mustangs’ only losses this season have come inside the Catholic High School League Central Division.

Macomb Lutheran North senior guard Abby Dubak fires up a shot during a Jan. 26 loss to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard. The Mustangs’ only losses this season have come inside the Catholic High School League Central Division.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — In its first season in the league, the Macomb Lutheran North girls basketball team has found out the Catholic High School League Central Division is tough.

At press time, the Mustangs were 10-6 overall and 6-6 in the Central. Lutheran North’s losses this season have all come inside the division, dropping two games each to Bloomfield Hills Marian, Farmington Hills Mercy and Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard.

Those three squads represent the top three teams in the Central and have a combined record of 33-11 overall and 26-8 in divisional play.

Lutheran North is fourth in the seven-team division.

“I think we’ve held our own this year,” Mustangs coach Greg Mangold said. “The division is a lot tougher than most of the girls were probably used to. We’ve had some growing pains learning to compete at such a high level. It’s probably a testament to how strong the team is that we’re undefeated in nonleague games.”

Playing in such a tough division could serve the team well late in the season.

Lutheran North started the Catholic League A-B playoffs after press time, but it hosts a Class B district and begins the playoffs against Madison Heights Lamphere at 7 p.m. Feb. 27.

The winner gets Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day, winner of 11 state titles since 1989, at 4 p.m. March 1. The district final is at 6 p.m. March 3.

Mangold said playing in the Central Division has been a great competitive experience for the team.

“I can’t imagine much more intensity in competition than what we’ve seen, although waiting for us in our district is Country Day — everyone’s worst nightmare,” Mangold said.

The Mustangs coach said it will take a little luck and some good fortune for his team to have success in both the CHSL and state tournaments. Mangold said his team must find a way to generate more offense, as it has been held to 45 points or less nine times this season.

“Our defense has allowed us to stay tight throughout most of our games, but the lack of offense has frustrated the team at times,” Mangold said. “That leads to breakdowns, which seem to escalate for the rest of the game.”

Lutheran North’s defense has been solid, allowing 39.8 points per game. Mangold said his players are aggressive on defense and that his team does a strong job of limiting the opposition to one shot.

“We’ve been able to use our athleticism this year to be creative on defense, jumping in and out of defensive sets,” Mangold said. “It has also allowed us to play more man defense. … There’s been a learning curve of sorts, but the girls have responded.”

Lutheran North’s roster features five seniors — Abby Dubak and Natalie Zauel, along with captains Madison Desmet, Emily Schomaker and Ashleigh Thomas.

Mangold said every player must contribute if the team is to have success in the postseason and finish strong.

Lutheran North has eight district titles, with the most recent postseason championship coming in 2015. The program’s lone regional title came in 1993.

“Everyone has to step up,” Mangold said. “Some of our offensive frustration has caused (players) to go solo at times, trying to carry the team. Instead of helping, that has had the opposite effect. The girls know this. They’ve talked through it and are committed to playing more team-oriented offense for the rest of the year.

“We’re looking forward to a great last part of the season.”

Lutheran North’s next game is at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 against Warren Mott on the road.