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Beverly Hills

March 19, 2012

Orlando considers graduating class one of his best, ever

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Amber Dean, pictured against Liggett during a win earlier this season, is one of seven seniors on the Country Day roster. The class ended its tenure at the school with a 96-5 overall record.

Fairly or unfairly, the Beverly Hills Detroit Day girls basketball program is judged from one year to the next, and one graduating class to the next, by the number of state championships won.

It’s just the simple reality for a program where expectations often supersede reality.

Coach Frank Orlando understands it.

And, even though the Yellowjackets haven’t claimed the top spot in Class B since 2009, Orlando had nothing but praise for his current crop of seniors, a group that ended the 2012 postseason in a 56-47 loss to Goodrich High in the quarterfinals March.

“I’m as proud of this class as I have been with any that’s come before it,” Orlando said. “Truthfully, I consider this one of the best groups I’ve ever had.”

The Goodrich loss ended Country Day’s season with a 22-2 overall record. Among those 22 wins, as Orlando pointed out, were four victories against teams that reached the Class A quarterfinals.

Making this year’s run even more remarkable was the fact senior guard Aerial Powers, a finalist for Miss Basketball, missed all of the playoffs with an injury, leaving the Yellowjackets’ bench just four-players deep.

“It was a tremendous effort on our part,” Orlando said of the final game, in which Goodrich improved to 26-0 with the win. “I think we were too inconsistent at times, but to play without one of the best players in the state and still be in this game says a lot about this group of girls.”

The 10-person roster for Country Day featured seven seniors, and as Orlando said, they’ve certainly left their mark on the program.

In their four years with the team, the Yellowjackets went 96-5, won the 2009 state title, lost in the 2010 championship game and reached the quarterfinals in each of the past two years, falling both times to Goodrich.

“They’ve been through so much together. It was so gratifying to see how they matured over the years,” Orlando said. “They became so close as a team, and that it made it difficult to end and say goodbye. Their maturity and the ability to play the game was so gratifying over the four years. And while we only won one title, I still consider them one of the best.”

Yet, with 70 percent of the current roster set to graduate, Orlando knows he’ll be in for quite a test next winter, when he begins his 46th year of coaching girls basketball.

“When you’ve been involved as much as I have, you expect the ups and downs, and the rebuilding,” he explained. “But that’s the part I look forward to the most. We’re going to have some teaching to do, and I love that. They’ll be some new kids who are enthusiastic to work and who want to keep up the tradition that’s been established here.”

Just like there was four years ago.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.