Grosse Pointe South’s girls basketball team has returned to the hardwood with one clear goal in front of them: Get back to the state finals — and win it.
Last season, the Blue Devils lost the Class A state final game to Grand Haven 54-53.
Nearly nine months have passed, and that loss still isn’t sitting right with coach Kevin Richards.
“Our goal is to win a state championship,” he said. “Getting there and losing by one, really with eight seconds away from a state championship — it’s eating at me. Everybody has the same goal. We need to win a state championship.”
South will have the luxury of experience on its side, as eight players from last year’s team have returned, including seniors Claire DeBoer, Gretchen Shirar, Christy Flom and Emily Satterfield.
Richards is looking to them to help the Blue Devils navigate their way through the season.
“I want them to be vocal,” he said. “That’s something we’re looking for. Just make sure everybody has the same goal in mind, and everybody’s coming to practice with that goal every day.”
Given that South’s girls basketball program had never won a district title prior to last season, it may have been easier to fly under the radar.
Now that the Blue Devils have the title of “state runner-up” to their credit, Richards understands that they are not likely to sneak up on anybody.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” he said. “Everybody’s going to measure themselves against us. I’m really looking forward to that challenge. We can’t have any off nights.”
Perhaps somewhat lost in all of last year’s postseason success is that the Blue Devils also finished as the Macomb Area Conference White Division co-champs. If South plans on winning another league title this season, it will have to do so in a different division, the MAC Red.
Richards is not naive about the type of competition his team is likely to encounter once league play begins.
“I think our league is probably the toughest league in the state,” he said. “Our league is just brutal. (Macomb) Dakota’s very good; Grosse Pointe North is very good; (and) Romeo’s very good. And Chippewa Valley, who we beat in the regional final last year, they’re in our league. There’s some really, really good teams.
“The end goal is the state championship,” Richards continued. “I think our non-league schedule and league schedule will definitely prepare us for (the) state tournament.”
The Blue Devils are scheduled to open their season at noon Dec. 1 in a road game against Whitney Young High School, a team from Chicago. South’s first home game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 against Port Huron Northern.