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March 14, 2012

Stoney Creek’s ‘unbelievable’ season comes to an end

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Stoney Creek’s ‘unbelievable’ season comes to an end
Players for Rochester Hills Stoney Creek look on during the team’s win over Bloomfield Hills Marian in the opening round of regionals at Lake Orion March 6. The Cougars fell to Waterford Kettering in the regional final March 8, but not before making some history along the way.

The Rochester Hills Stoney Creek girls basketball team came short of its goal of adding another title to its 2011-2012 season, as the Cougars fell in a Class A regional final to Waterford Kettering 40-28 March 8.

Although Stoney Creek would have preferred to have its postseason journey continue, it didn’t exactly exit this season empty-handed.

The team won its first-ever district championship when it defeated Rochester March 2, and coach Brad Crighton hopes his players take time to appreciate what they accomplished.

“Season was unbelievable,” he said. “It’s bittersweet right now, but (I’m) trying to get the girls to realize the entire picture. We made it to the regional finals. Overall season, I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. It’s the furthest we’ve ever gone, so it was fun.”

On the evening that Stoney Creek lost its final game of the season to Kettering, the Cougars were having difficulty getting shots to fall, going 7-for-48 for the game. Despite their difficult evening finding the net, until approximately the mid-way point of the fourth quarter, the Cougars remained within striking distance of Kettering.

The kind of perseverance that his players displayed in that game is something Crighton has witnessed time and again.

“The girls never quit,” he said. “We were probably (trailing in) 70 percent of our games at halftime, but we ended up winning 16 games. They always work hard; they make their adjustments. Just a great group of girls.”

Lauren Bolhuis, Keri Scipione and Gabby Yurik were the three senior representatives on the Cougars’ squad this season, and saying goodbye to them is not an easy chore for Crighton.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I’ve never been more proud of three girls in my life. All three bring something different. All three meant a lot, not only to the program, but my family. I’ve spent a lot of time with them, and I’m going to miss them.

“I know they’re upset right now. Hopefully, they’ll remember the big picture — everything they’ve accomplished and where they’ve taken the program.”

Perhaps one of the sincerest forms of flattery an athlete can receive is praise from the competition.

“You got to challenge that kid,” Waterford Kettering coach Scott Woodhull said of Yurik. “She’s just too good, one of the best I’ve seen. I’ve watched her probably four times on film. Every game she does something pretty impressive.”

Although Stoney Creek may have experienced a historic season and accomplished something that no other team in the history of the program has, Crighton is not content to rest on his laurels. This season’s success has left him with a taste for more of the same, and then some.

“The district championship was great,” Crighton said. “It was a monkey off our back, but now it feels like another monkey jumped on. Now we’ve been here once. We want to try to get back here.”

The Cougars finished the season with an overall record of 16-8.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.