West Bloomfield, Walled LakeFebruary 19, 2014
Walled Lake, West Bloomfield teams unite for hoops district
By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer
WEST BLOOMFIELD — For months, Zach Hilbers has talked about the Oakland Activities Association Red Division and the playoff preparedness the competitive league inherently provides.
Whether or not that all pays off, Hilbers and his West Bloomfield High girls basketball team are about to find out.
The Lakers officially tip off play in the 2014 postseason at 5 p.m. Feb. 26 against Walled Lake Northern at the White Lake Lakeland Class A district.
Both teams drew first-round byes and are meeting for a chance to play in the 6 p.m. Feb. 28 final.
“They are a tough team that is going to play hard, especially on the defensive end,” Hilbers said of Northern. “They have a lot of similar pieces that we do.”
The Lakers were 5-10 at press time, a record Hilbers hasn’t paid much attention to, given the schedule his girls have faced.
“The division sets you up for this,” Hilbers said of the intensity of the playoffs. “The main reason we like to stay up in the Red is you never have that day off. Come playoff time, you need 32 minutes of total focus to be successful. It’s not easy, but we’ve been trained on that with this schedule.”
Hilbers spoke early last week, with four regular-season games remaining.
“We’re still getting there,” he said of his team’s play of late. “Right now, I don’t think we’re there yet, but after the last few games where we’ve gotten better, the girls have refocused their efforts. We still have time and some work to do, but I like the direction we’re heading.”
Northern, on the other hand, was 5-11 at press time and had lost eight of its past nine games.
Still, Hilbers wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“The key against them is to pressure and make them uncomfortable,” he explained. “They have some good athletes, especially at the guard spot. We have to try and make other people handle the ball, handle the pressure and force them into some mistakes.”
The teams did not play this year in the regular season, but the Lakers are 2-0 against Northern since 2011.
The other half of the Lakeland district features the home team, as well as Walled Lake Western and Walled Lake Central.
Western (1-15) and Central (4-12) open play at 6 p.m. Feb. 24, with the winner facing Lakeland at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 for a chance to move onto the final.
Central beat Western 49-46 in overtime on Jan. 13 and then won the rematch 35-34 on Feb. 1.
In Class C district action, West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy travels to Royal Oak Shrine to battle the host team in a 6 p.m. Feb. 24 opener.
The winner faces Southfield Bradford at 7 p.m. Feb. 26, with the final set for 6 p.m. Feb. 28.