North Farmington senior Sela Lefler drives past a Berkley defender Feb. 2 at Berkley High School.

North Farmington senior Sela Lefler drives past a Berkley defender Feb. 2 at Berkley High School.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

North Farmington basketball finds success in ‘stepping stone’ season

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Farmington Press | Published February 8, 2023


FARMINGTON HILLS — Carrying a 18-19 record their past two seasons, North Farmington girls basketball was ready to come out of their shell.

A winning record and a loss in the district semifinals last season without senior center Halle Rogers opened the discussion for what expectations North Farmington should have this season, but the answer came earlier than expected.

“I think last year was when they really started to grow into things and realized what they could do if they stuck together, and it’s really been a stepping stone for this year,” North Farmington coach Jeff Simpson said.

A 16-0 start to the season is a strong message to the Oakland Activities Associaition-White division in which North Farmington sat in the middle of the pack last year.

Knowing it was their last season, North Farmington’s seniors set out to make a statement this season.

“It’s our last year,” senior Penelope Creary said. “We were all coming out hard and wanted to show all the hard work we put in and get some recognition.”

Featuring six seniors — including Rogers, Creary, Sela Lefler, Eliza Muller, Amirrah Merriweather and Kelly Simpson — North Farmington’s veteran group took it upon themselves to make their final season count.

While all are vital pieces in the rotation, Simpson said their mentorship has been their biggest contribution.

“It’s basically a lot of kids who have three years of varsity experience,” Simpson said. “They understand the system better. We always said it would take two years to learn the pressing system and to learn the role and buy into it. To have kids who already have that, it really makes a difference.”

Creary and Lefler have been the primary ball handlers for North Farmington, facilitating the offense on a nightly basis.

In an offense where ball movement is a necessity, Simpson said his two seniors have thrived in their roles.

“They’re two of our best ball handlers, and they find other people when they’re covered also,” Simpson. “They’re doing a nice job of that.”

While Creary and Lefler have been offensive focal points, contributions in the scoring department come from every player that touches the court. Junior Asiyah Jihad has been reliable off the bench for North Farmington this season.

Featuring a different scorer each night, their offensive output can come from anyone at any given time.

“You just never know which night who is going to come up with that double-digit total and step into that third spot as a scorer,” Simpson said. “Even when we’re having a cold shooting night, we’re generating good shots from our defensive pressure.”

North Farmington’s defense has been the topic of conversation this season, allowing just under 32 points per game this season.

Simpson said Muller and junior Hannah Hart have paced the defensive unit.

“They’ve just gotten really good at providing that defensive pressure, deflecting the ball and just making it hard for teams,” Simpson said.

North Farmington has allowed 30 points or fewer in five matchups this season.

With five games left against league opponents and only a one-game lead over second place Oxford, North Farmington controls its own destiny toward the end of the season.

While a perfect season and a state tournament run are both possibilities for North Farmington moving forward, the progression this team has seen from not only its seniors but its underclassmen has been impressive.

The seniors are leaving their mark on the program, and Lefler said the previous seniors made their impact on her and the 2023 senior class.

“They definitely showed us the ways of North Farmington basketball,” Lefler said.