Certain pieces had to be replaced, minutes from three- and four-year veterans divvied up among those set to return.
Transitioning from last year to this one wasn’t going to be an easy task for Tim Carruthers and his North Farmington girls basketball team, and he knew it.
But playing in the Oakland Activities Association’s Red Division wasn’t going to allow any time for adjustment, either.
“With all that said, you have to be pretty happy with where we are right now,” Carruthers commented last week before a Jan. 31 game at West Bloomfield High. “We’re seeing growth on a daily basis. The chemistry continues to get better, and more and more girls are getting the experience they need.”
Following the 57-45 win of West Bloomfield Jan. 31, the Raiders were 8-6 on the season and 6-3 in Red play.
“It was hard to anticipate just what kind of team we’d have when the year started,” Carruthers explained. “Traditionally, we’ve had high expectations here, but when you play the non-conference schedule we do, and then you play in the Red Division, nothing comes easy. But the girls understand that.”
And they’ve responded well.
West Bloomfield entered the game with just a 2-6 mark in Red play, but like nearly every team in the division, is more than capable of beating any other.
The Raiders led by just three entering the fourth quarter before using 14 free throws to expand the lead.
The eighth win of the year is fast closing on last season’s 10-11 finish.
At 6-3 in division play, they may be off the pace for the league’s top spot — Clarkston High (8-0) and Southfield-Lathrup (8-1) will likely ultimately decide the winner — the Raiders above-.500 mark is nothing to scoff at.
“You can’t take one night off in this league,” Carruthers said.
“One thing we’ve talked about before every game is every night, any team in this league can beat any other team,” senior Kaitlyn Kendall said. “Every single team and game is so competitive. You have to be at your best. I think that’s something we all like, something we’ve built off of.”
And something they hope to build on long into March.
With the playoffs now just a few weeks away, the Raiders, like most teams, can start peaking ahead to see what, or more importantly, who waits on the horizon.
And in North Farmington’s case, it’s a very familiar foe.
“They’re a real good squad, one we have to be ready for,” Carruthers said of his team’s district opener, a 5 p.m. Feb. 25 game at home against Harrison. The Hawks were 13-1 at press time and beat the Raiders 50-33 Dec. 18. “We have to use the schedule we have left to get ready for that game — get ourselves playing at the highest level possible.”
Kendall said she and the rest of the team were looking forward to the Harrison game, and the possibility of revenge against their crosstown rival.
“The main focus has to be the next game on our schedule, but yeah, we’re excited to see them,” she said. “After they beat us, we owe them one, and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good team heading into it.”