Royal Oak High girls basketball has the look of a contender

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published December 4, 2017

 Royal Oak High girls basketball coach Brian Sopata talks to his players during practice Nov. 15. Sopata said this year’s group could be as good as any he’s ever coached.

Royal Oak High girls basketball coach Brian Sopata talks to his players during practice Nov. 15. Sopata said this year’s group could be as good as any he’s ever coached.

Photo by Sean Work

 Royal Oak High junior Jessica Adams takes a jump  shot during a recent practice. Adams is one of four players with three years of varsity experience.

Royal Oak High junior Jessica Adams takes a jump shot during a recent practice. Adams is one of four players with three years of varsity experience.

Photo by Sean Work

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ROYAL OAK — On paper, this is a veteran group loaded with potential; a group that plans on having a lot to say when it comes to division and district championships.

On the court, well, the Royal Oak High girls basketball team feels everything just stated isn’t a hope, but a fact to soon be realized.

After going 13-8 last season, the Ravens bring back most of their starting lineup and a swagger that coach Brian Sopata has been waiting to see blossom.

“This is a team that has a chance to be as good as any team I’ve had here before,” Sopata said. “We’ve been building up to this year, and I’m looking forward to see what the girls can do.”

His sample size in terms of games was minimal at press time.

In the Ravens’ only game so far, they blew past Walled Lake Northern 63-24.

His sample size in terms of potential, though, is years in the making.

“We brought back seven girls, including three starters and four kids who’ve been on varsity at least three years,” Sopata said. “We had a great offseason working together, and that was very important to what we want to do.”

June Donnellon and Clare Kochanski are seniors with three years of varsity experience.

Jessica Adams and Samantha Potter are both juniors in their third year with the varsity.

“In the past, we’ve always been the younger team,” Sopata said. “That’s no longer the case. We have kids who’ve been through a lot at the varsity level. … When you look at what we have and who we’ve played, there isn’t much these girls don’t understand. There isn’t much that will surprise them.”

So, in other words, take lessons learned in the past and turn it into even greater success this winter.

“Now, it’s really a matter of playing the way they can,” Sopata said. “They have to continue to get better and step up when we need them to step up. We have the pieces here to be very good.”

With that said, Sopata added that he’s also gone out of his way to challenge his team.

Royal Oak has road games at Bloomfield Hills High and Clarkston High, for example.

The team is also set to face perennial power Birmingham Marian.

“The last couple years, with a younger team, we’ve been very competitive,” Sopata added. “I think this year, we can look at our schedule and know that we have a legitimate chance to win every single night. They’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and we’re excited at what’s in front of us.”

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