The Utica Eisenhower girls basketball team huddles around coach Cliff Piper Jan. 21 during a game against Warren Cousino at home. The Eagles beat Cousino 50-34 and were 7-5 overall at press time.

The Utica Eisenhower girls basketball team huddles around coach Cliff Piper Jan. 21 during a game against Warren Cousino at home. The Eagles beat Cousino 50-34 and were 7-5 overall at press time.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Eisenhower girls basketball hunting for consistency

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 27, 2020

 Ike junior Emma Griffiths pushes the ball up the floor against Cousino. Griffiths said speed and communication are two strengths the Eagles have been able to utilize well this season.

Ike junior Emma Griffiths pushes the ball up the floor against Cousino. Griffiths said speed and communication are two strengths the Eagles have been able to utilize well this season.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica Eisenhower girls basketball coach Cliff Piper said his Eagles have been in every game they’ve played this season.

The team is resilient, he added, but it needs to learn to play a complete game.

During a recent home game against rival Macomb Dakota, Ike found itself down 18 points in the first half. The Eagles were able to cut the Cougars’ lead to 4 points, but were unable to finish out the game and fell 52-45. The same thing happened the following contest against Macomb Area Conference Red Division leader Grosse Pointe South. The Eagles closed the gap, but ultimately suffered a 6-point loss.

“We seem to be playing a very good second half, but not a very good first half,” Piper said. “We have to learn to put together all four quarters.”

Aside from consistency, the Eagles are also looking to tighten up on shooting. Piper believes his team will be tough to beat if it can find a way to put all of those puzzle pieces together before the playoffs start March 2.

In the midst of his first season as the varsity head coach of the Eagles, Piper has his team at 7-5 overall and 4-3 in the MAC Red. Piper spent the past six years coaching Ike’s junior varsity squad.

That familiarity has been beneficial as the Eagles navigate the MAC’s top division.

“I’ve had him for three years now,” junior guard Emma Griffiths said. “With him being my coach, he’s all I’ve known. I just work really well with him as my coach. It’s really nice having him on varsity.”

Griffiths averages about 8 points per game, according to her coach, and is a part of a leadership core with senior forward Olivia Stack, who averages 9 points per game.

“Olivia’s been a leader in practice, but all the seniors do a good job leading,” Piper said. “They’re a fun bunch; they’re always here at practice and they hardly ever miss. They’re a great group of girls.”

As for some of the strengths the Eagles possess, defense ranks near the top of the list, especially with their ability to adjust to the opponent. Ike gives up an average of 42.3 points per game, which is third best in the MAC Red, behind Grosse Pointe North and Dakota. On offense, the Eagles have scored 45.3 points on average.

The team’s two main goals this season are simple: clinch a spot in the MAC tournament and win a district title. In order to make the tournament, the Eagles need to finish in one of the top four spots in their division. They finished in fifth place last season and currently sit third overall.

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