Royal Oak Shrine’s Grace Murray is pictured during the Catholic League final. The Knights reached a Class C regional final and finished the year with 17 victories.

Royal Oak Shrine’s Grace Murray is pictured during the Catholic League final. The Knights reached a Class C regional final and finished the year with 17 victories.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Shrine girls basketball closes 2018 playoffs in regional final

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published March 13, 2018

ROYAL OAK — There was to be no drama here.

All games are different, and in the state tournament, all losses can be different.

But as Royal Oak Shrine girls basketball coach Wayne Gigante looked back on his team and its season finale, he knew one thing.

“The better team won,” he said bluntly of a 71-29 loss to Detroit Edison Public School Academy March 8 in the New Haven High Class C regional final. “Oh my gosh, that was like a college team — the size, the athleticism, the speed. We lost to a great team and learned a lot from it.”

Gigante said he knew what his girls were in for and found great pride in the way they battled, even if the final score wasn’t a favorable one.

Still, the 17-7 record the Knights finished with was the best in Gigante’s six-year tenure, “and probably the most wins for this program in one season in a long, long time,” he added.

Shrine defeated Wixom St. Catherine 46-25 in the regional semifinal.

“To be in the Sweet 16 and be part of a regional final, it was such an awesome experience,” Gigante said. “It was nice to get out of the district. Then to find a way to win a regional semifinal and get into a final was great.”

The district title and regional semifinal win just added to a season that already included a Catholic High School League playoff title.

“This was a real good mix of kids,” Gigante said. “The experience we had from winning a league championship last year, and having some girls back in the mix, really helped. This was likely the most skilled group we’ve had in a while. … The girls understood what we had to do to succeed. They’ve been in the program. It was just good stuff all year long.”

The Knights are set to graduate four seniors from the team, but could bring back four starters.

Highlighting those set to return is junior Grace Murray, who led the team in scoring with 16 points per game.

“She hung right with those kids,” Gigante said of Murray, who scored 15 in the final game. “She’s a good, good player and a great leader. That may be her best quality. She’s a kid others look up to. I think she could average 20 points per night next year.”

As for the rest of the team?

“We could be better, a lot better,” Gigante said. “We feel we can win a third Catholic League title in a row. We have some great kids coming up. We really have a chance to be special.”