Seeing ‘Red’ on Valentine’s night
Published February 13, 2013
LATHRUP VILLAGE — This was a 9-0 team rolling past opponents with an ease that almost seemed unfair.
Then came a two-point loss.
Then came the reshuffling of priorities.
“We let them take us out of our game,” Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup girls basketball coach Michele Marshall said of a 37-35 loss to Clarkston High on Jan. 11. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play them again.”
That opportunity is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Clarkston in a game that will determine the Oakland Activities Association Red Division champ.
“Going into Clarkston is always a competitive and difficult place to play,” Marshall said. “They’ll be so many dynamics heading into the game, assuming we’re going in to play for first place in the Red. And at the same time, you’re always preparing for the state tournament.”
Marshall said Clarkston’s success in the first meeting came because of its team defense, especially the ability to slow the Chargers down with man-to-man pressure.
“That’s what impressed me the most,” she said. “There aren’t many teams that can do that to us. I think it rattled us. It got to us.”
“We didn’t come out prepared, for some reason,” senior center Christian Green said. “I don’t think we expected them to come at us the way they did. But we’ll be ready this time.”
Both teams have been dominant all season.
Lathrup’s only other loss came to Detroit King, a team that was 14-0 at press time.
The Chargers have lived up to every bit of the hype that greeted them before the season started, averaging more than 52 points a game and allowing 36.
Clarkston, on the other hand, is 13-1 overall, 9-0 in Red play, and hasn’t lost since Dec. 4.
“When you play a team that second time around, it’s always different,” said Marshall, whose squad was 14-2 overall. “We’re going to have a different approach, but it’s going to be fun. We’ll be on the road, facing a good team with a lot on the line. You have to like that this late in the year.”
“It’s going to be a live atmosphere,” Green said with a laugh. “I think we’ll have some fans out there. Everyone is going to be fired up, and it means a lot to us with what’s on the line.”
Clarkston’s perfect mark in the Red is one game better than Lathrup’s, and a win for the Wolves would clinch, at worst, a share of the title.
Clarkston has two games remaining after this match-up, facing West Bloomfield High (2-6) and Pontiac High (1-7).
A Lathrup win would tie the teams atop the standings, likely resulting in a shared title, assuming the Chargers take care of business in their final two games, at North Farmington — a team still alive with a 6-2 division mark — and then at Troy High (0-8).
“We have to be the team that makes the adjustment from the first game,” Marshall said. “Clarkston is going to play hard, play with pride and want to defend their home court. We have to go out and want it just as badly, and I think these girls are ready for that.”