Royal Oak High junior Sarah Soraghan pushes the ball up the court Jan. 9 against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek on the road. Soraghan and senior Elinor Kochanski are the team’s captains.

Royal Oak High junior Sarah Soraghan pushes the ball up the court Jan. 9 against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek on the road. Soraghan and senior Elinor Kochanski are the team’s captains.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


New leadership for Royal Oak High girls basketball

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published January 14, 2020

 Sophomore Quinn Blackwell tries to get a shot up over two Stoney Creek defenders in a recent road game. At press time, the Ravens were 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Sophomore Quinn Blackwell tries to get a shot up over two Stoney Creek defenders in a recent road game. At press time, the Ravens were 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK — Last season, the Royal Oak High girls basketball team was led by a multitude of seniors that included Samantha Potter, Jess Adams and Nila Coney. The trio led the Ravens to a second-place finish in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division with a 10-2 record.

Overall, Royal Oak finished at 19-3 and was three points shy of beating Bloomfield Hills Marian in a Division 1 district final.

“Great players — they’re off playing in college,” Ravens coach Brian Sopata said. “Those kids were four-year varsity players and they had a ton of experience.”

As one leadership group leaves, another one enters. The captains on this year’s Ravens team are senior Elinor Kochanski and junior Sarah Soraghan. Both players have had three years of experience at the varsity level and the chance to soak up an ample amount of information from previous team leaders.

“Jess Adams was a really big influence on my leadership now,” Kochanski said. “She wasn’t afraid to be tough on the girls, and that really impacted me, because it taught me how to be strong and it taught me that I need to be that for the girls on the team this year.”

Soraghan learned more about on-the-court skills from previous players.

“I learned a lot of basketball from them, because they were such skilled players and they were so focused all the time on what they wanted to be,” she said.

Alia Devantier is another player making a splash in the eyes of her coach. The senior spent most of her high school career playing at the junior varsity level, but has now earned the chance to compete at a high level.

“She showed up, kept working hard and wanted to make this team. (She) did all the right things to be out on varsity,” Sopata said.

Overall, Sopata said he admires this leadership group due in part to its ability to play hard and lead by example.

This year’s Ravens were 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the OAA Red at press time.

“We started off pretty strong, but we’ve hit some adversity recently,” Kochanski said, as the Ravens had dropped three of their last four contests. “We’ve been trying to push through it and get back on track. I think we’re taking steps in the right direction, but it’s definitely going to be a process.”

Sopata said better communication on the court is the biggest key when it comes to getting the season back on track. The more the team talks to one another, the more energy the team plays with, and all the other issues can sort themselves out.

There is still plenty for the team to hang its hat on despite the recent results on the scoreboard. Work ethic, morale and camaraderie are all at an all-time high.

“They show up and they give us everything they can,” Sopata said. “We’re trying to get more from them, but you love it as a coach. They understand and value that. You can’t replace kids that show up and work hard.”

Coming up, the Ravens take on West Bloomfield High at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at home and Clarkston High at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at home.

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