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November 26, 2013

Plenty to like about the Chargers’ roster as 2013-14 season takes shape

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Plenty to like about the Chargers’ roster as 2013-14 season takes shape
Erica Longmire is one of five players back in the mix with the Lathrup girls basketball team. Longmire is pictured during a game last season. The Chargers are expected to contend in the OAA Red again with a roster loaded with talent.

LATHRUP VILLAGE — There’s youth and there’s experience.

Where there’s inexperience, there’s an abundance of talent.

And as usual, where there’s a Michele Marshall roster, there’s plenty to like.

Nothing’s different this winter with the Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup girls basketball team.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Marshall said. “It’s a great group of girls.”

Marshall was originally set to retire from the Chargers two seasons ago but came back last year when the roster was too loaded and the chance for a great season was too great to walk away from.

“And here I am again,” she said with a laugh. “I guess they can’t get rid of me. I’m just enjoying it too much.”

Asked to describe her latest group of girls, Marshall said, “very young, very experienced and very talented.”

It’s a trifecta not usually associated together, but that’s what the Chargers have.

While just a handful of varsity veterans are back in the mix, all have bundles of experience to fall back on.

Erica Longmire is a four-year varsity vet with three years starting experience. Marshall expects her to be the team leader — a point guard who can also knock down the 3-pointer.

Asia King, who transferred from Pontiac High before last season, will be able to play the entire schedule this time around.

Marshall called Taiye Bello, a 6-foot-2-inch sophomore, her “most-recruited player.” Bello is back to start again, already receiving a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan.

Her sister, Kehinde Bello, will also see some time in the starting lineup.

And then there’s freshman Deja Church.

“She’s probably the smartest kid I’ve had here, as far as basketball IQ is concerned,” Marshall said. “She’s special, with a ton of AAU experience. I think she’s going to force my hand to get her in the starting lineup before long.”

Toss in Antoinette Miller, a sophomore transfer who was one of Ferndale High’s top scorers last year, and the Chargers certainly have the ingredients for another special season.

“Right now, it’s a matter of just getting the chemistry better,” Longmire said. “We’re still working with some kids that are new to each other, and some freshmen in the mix. But we get along real well.”

Asked if she expected, or was willing to accept, some growing pains, Marshall laughed.

“The goal for us is always to win, and win as much as we can,” she said. “We know it will take some time, but this team is capable of winning, and doing so right away.”

Lathrup finished 19-4 last season, falling to Farmington Hills Mercy in the regional round, much sooner than many had predicted.

“It’s a talented group capable of making a nice run in the playoffs,” Longmire said. “This is a team with so many options, we’ll be able to beat teams in different ways.”

Marshall has had plenty of talent before, some of which has panned out to lengthy runs in March, while others have not.

She said she never focuses on specific wins or specific goals, but she understands a great opportunity when she sees it.

“This is a great group of kids that, if they can learn to play together, will be very tough to beat,” she said. “That’s our focus. If we accomplish that, the rest will take care of itself.”

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