WEST BLOOMFIELD — He speaks as though he’s never tasted this victory, as if he’s in his rookie year on the sidelines still trying to figure it all out.
Yet, in each of the past 16 seasons, when a Class B regional championship has been awarded in girls basketball, Frank Orlando has been there to accept it.
“It’s beautiful,” Orlando said with a smile after his Country Day team beat Ferndale High 57-39 in a March 7 regional at West Bloomfield High. The game seemed closer than the 18-point difference would suggest. “It’s almost hard to believe.”
On a number of counts.
First off, this is a Country Day squad unlike many that’s come before it. There are no standouts, no Miss Basketball contenders. Heck, only one girl on the roster started a game before this season began.
Yet here the Yellowjackets were, celebrating — once again.
“This is such a unique team,” Orlando said. “Every time you think they are down and out, they find a way. They find that inner strength.”
And they needed that strength in the regional opener.
Taking on Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy in the semifinals, Country Day trailed 40-36 with just seconds remaining.
Then Asia Doss hit a 3-pointer to pull within one with 15 ticks left on the clock.
A steal and a Doss free throw moments later forced overtime in what turned into a 50-43 victory.
“Tuesday was so emotional,” Orlando said after the Ferndale win — one that pushed his team to 18-3 on the year. “I give our girls so much credit for the way they played here tonight.”
Country Day faced Flint Powers Catholic in a quarterfinal played after press time.
The winner of that game plays at 6 p.m. March 15 at the Breslin Center in a state semifinal.
The Class B state final is set for 6 p.m. March 16.
Speaking of overtime, Marian used the extra session March 7 to claim a Class A regional title of its own.
Kara Holinski hit a 3-pointer, and it proved to be the only bucket in the extra five minutes as the Mustangs snuck past Clarkston High 40-37.
Marian (23-3) faced Grosse Pointe South in a quarterfinal after press time.
The winner plays at 2:50 p.m. March 15 in a state semifinal.
The Class A final is set for 12 p.m. March 16.