UTICA — Another outstanding season has come to a close for the Sterling Heights High girls basketball program, but the accomplishments of this squad have left a lasting impression on coach Rick Repicky.
“We’re very disappointed tonight,” Repicky said following a 62-51 regional final loss to Port Huron Northern March 6 at Utica High. “In a few days, we’ll look back and be very proud of a lot of the things they did this year. These kids gave everything they had over a very long period of time, and I’m very proud of them and all the success they had.”
The Stallions have won division titles in three of the last four years, including this season’s Macomb Area Conference Blue Division title.
Port Huron Northern was able to be a stout Stallions press in the regional final, which saw Sterling Heights’ 17-game win streak come to an end.
“We’ve been pressed all year,” Port Huron Northern coach Mark Dickinson said. “We’ve played teams like Grosse Pointe South, Detroit Country Day and Flint Powers that also pressed. We’ve been preparing for this all year. We have pretty good ball-handlers. When we had good spacing. We were able to find the open person and get what we wanted.”
“I thought we had one more in us,” Repicky said. “We gave them a few easy ones. I thought we were a little slow with some of our movements. But give them credit; they’re as good as anybody we’ve played all year. They made quick passes, spaced themselves properly and finished. They didn’t give us the turnovers consecutively to allow us to get going.”
In advancing to the regional final, Sterling Heights (21-4) downed Warren Cousino 53-46 in the semifinals. The Stallion won a second straight Class A district title in a 56-35 win over Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse Feb. 28.
Following the district final, junior forward Sadè Lemons said the team discussed winning an outright division title at the start of the season. She said the group knew it could have stood alone atop the MAC Gold last season, too, which served as motivation.
“It’s good to know (the league title) is ours and ours alone,” senior guard Dayshia Vance said.
Lemons, Vance and senior Julianna Trombley have the led the squad all season.
Those three, Repicky said, have played much more varsity basketball than anyone else on the Stallions’ roster.
Vance and Trombley are two of five seniors who graduate this spring. Trombley netted 17 points in her final game, with Repicky saying she gave her all. Vance fought injuries to stay in the regional final.
“I’ve been (at Sterling Heights) nine years and coached different places. In 15 years of coaching, I’ve never had anybody, guys or girls, who competed as hard as those two. … For them to play for our school, our team, I think they set a pretty high standard for everybody.
“I’m proud of the group for their effort. This was a special group, not only on the court, but getting people to come out and show a lot of school spirit. I’m just going to miss this particular group of kids. They’re special.”