From unranked to the quarterfinals, Country Day wraps great winter

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 17, 2014

In somewhat of an eye-opening revelation, the Country Day girls basketball team spent the better part of the preseason being looked over.

“Not too many people were talking about us,” coach Frank Orlando said. “We weren’t ranked by anybody. We weren’t picked by anybody to really do much this year.”

And Orlando understood it, too.

“Sure I did,” he said. “If you look just at tradition, you would say we have an opportunity to be great every year. But when you first looked at what we had coming into the year, we certainly lacked some things. There were some question marks.”

All season, the Yellowjackets had the answers.

Orlando spoke one day after Country Day wrapped up its season, one day after being in the final eight teams still playing in Class B.

They went from overlooked to a team that won 22 games and reached the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs for the 17th year in a row.

“So proud of these girls,” Orlando said. “To be in the top eight teams of Class B is a real honor for us.”

Country Day dropped is quarterfinal 51-31 to Flint Powers Catholic.

“It was a difficult game for us, in the sense they had a lot more balance than we did,” Orlando said. “They had a girl that was physical on the inside that we couldn’t really match up with. They put a lot of pressure on our guards, and it was one of those games where we didn’t handle it real well. … They were a very good basketball team that is fundamentally sound.”

The Yellowjackets were also playing without four-year varsity vet Brittany Washington, who injured her knee in the regional semifinal.

“That hurt, too,” Orlando said. “I’m not saying we win with her in there, but it would have made a difference.”

Despite the loss, which Orlando was hardly disappointed by, given the strides his team made, Country Day finished the season 22-2 and, in the final Associated Press poll of the regular season, sat as the No. 4-ranked team in Class B.

“It became so exciting for me and for the team to see how far they came,” Orlando said, offering a laugh when asked if rankings even mattered to him. “This is my 47th year, and the greatest feeling I have as a coach is to see kids unsure of themselves and then become believers of what they can do. We had girls that became leaders and filled the roles we needed. It was a great year for this group.”