Times have been good for Grosse Pointe North’s girls basketball

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 6, 2018

 Grosse Pointe North junior Julia Ayrault goes to the basket against Grosse Pointe South Feb. 1. At press time, North was on a seven-game winning streak, including a 54-44 victory against its rival.

Grosse Pointe North junior Julia Ayrault goes to the basket against Grosse Pointe South Feb. 1. At press time, North was on a seven-game winning streak, including a 54-44 victory against its rival.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

GROSSE POINTES — When Grosse Pointe North’s girls basketball team beat Grosse Pointe South 54-44 Feb. 1, it gave the Norsemen their seventh consecutive victory.

While any extended winning streak is a good one, what has made this one all the more significant is that each of those victories came entirely against opponents from the Macomb Area Conference Red Division, which is the top division in the conference.

At press time, North was 11-2 overall and 7-2 in the MAC Red. The Norsemen were scheduled to play Port Huron Northern (MAC Red) Feb. 5 and Warren Regina (Catholic High School League) Feb. 6, both after press time, with opportunities to extend their winning streak.

North’s streak started after losing its first two games in MAC Red play.

“We’ve had a pretty good run that exceeded my expectations,” coach Gary Bennett said following his team’s win against South. “I hadn’t seen us play at the level we’ve played some of these games.”

A big reason for North’s success has been the play of junior Julia Ayrault, who has committed to play for Michigan State University.

Bennett referred to her as “a real difference maker.”

But despite Ayrault’s talent and the players she has around her, even Bennett didn’t know the Norsemen would be as good as they have been.

“When we hit the Red Division, they were forced to play better basketball,” he said. “You’re forced to get better or you’re just (going to) keep losing. I give our kids credit; they got better. … They have exceeded what I thought they could get to.”

Bennett has led North’s program for more than three decades, and this season’s squad is unlike any he’s had.

“It doesn’t remind me of any other team because they actually understand some concepts better than some other teams I’ve had,” Bennett said. “They understand some concepts, and at times really read and understand what’s going on. … Some kids have just a feel for basketball, and I don’t think most of my kids have just a natural feel for it, but they’re starting to learn what the game’s all about, and that’s exciting.”