Move to OAA White presenting new challenges and maybe payoff for Barons

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 23, 2013

 Andover’s Rachel Rea (21), Shannon Wilson (11) and Jamie Lederman (40) were all smiles following a Jan. 12 win against Lahser. The Barons were 7-3 at press time.

Andover’s Rachel Rea (21), Shannon Wilson (11) and Jamie Lederman (40) were all smiles following a Jan. 12 win against Lahser. The Barons were 7-3 at press time.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

FARMINGTON HILLS — The start was perfect, or as close to it as possible.

Three shots taken, three shots made and an 8-0 lead on the road.

The end brought about frustration — a win that slipped through their hands. But, as coach Jeff Rubin said, another lesson learned.

It was one year ago when Rubin guided his Bloomfield Hills Andover team to an 18-2 regular season. The Barons were impressive and dynamic, rolling past one opponent after another.

“Then we faced a Marian team that may not have had as flashy a record as we did, but who had been more battle-tested,” Rubin said of a 61-35 district final loss to the Mustangs. Marian was below .500 entering the game. “We weren’t prepared enough to play in a game like that.”

A year later, Rubin knows that won’t be a problem this time around.

The Barons made the move from the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division — which they won in 2012 with a 15-1 mark — to the OAA White, where they were 5-3 at press time, but all the better for it.

“We’ve really liked the move,” Rubin said. “For some of the girls, it’s been a transition, playing at this level. But the younger players are doing well. We expected things to be tougher, and they have been. … A year ago, we were winning games where we weren’t at our best. This year, we won’t get away with that.”

Such was the case Jan. 7.

Even after taking an 8-0 lead at Farmington Hills Harrison, the Barons suffered through spells of turnovers and costly mistakes, eventually falling 51-45.

Last winter, this would have been a sure-fire win.

Not anymore.

“We’re seeing that, if we’re not at our best, we’re not going to win,” senior Jamie Lederman said.

“I think the Marian loss really opened our eyes to some things,” said senior Shannon Wilson. “But it’s what we needed.”

At 7-3 overall, Andover had already equaled last season’s loss total. But for Rubin, there was little worry in that fact.

His regular-season schedule has certainly gotten more difficult: a welcome sign, since the lineup in the Class A district hasn’t changed at all.

The Barons open the postseason against Birmingham Lahser, with the winner moving on to face a Marian team that was 9-1 at press time.

Birmingham Seaholm and West Bloomfield High make up the other half of the bracket.

With Wilson once again leading the way — averaging 16 points per game to go with her five assists and four steals — the Barons will always be dangerous.

And, as he vowed to have happen following the Harrison loss, if lessons can be learned as the season moves forward, even a team with a less flashy record will be in a better place, come playoff time.

“When you build from one game to the next, even in losses, you’re putting yourself in a position to do some of the things you want to,” Rubin said. “We’re there right now with a lot of games left. Our goal is to have a team that can compete every night, no matter who we’re playing. I think that’s where we’re at.”