Royal Oak girls basketball on top of its game

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published February 1, 2012

 Lizzie Girardot credited her Royal Oak girls basketball team’s 12-1 record to a great summer season. “You saw right away how good we could be,” she said.

Lizzie Girardot credited her Royal Oak girls basketball team’s 12-1 record to a great summer season. “You saw right away how good we could be,” she said.

Photo by David Schreiber


ROYAL OAK — As the rain and snow of winter continue to fall, it’s the wins that continue to pile up with the Royal Oak High girls basketball squad.

Through press time, the Ravens have taken to the court 13 times during the 2011-12 season, and in 12 of those, they’ve exited victorious.

If you ask coach Brian Sopata, or any of his girls for that matter, they’ll tell you the key to that success goes back a few months. The genesis of those wins comes from much, much warmer months.

“Sometimes, you can really get a feel for what type of team you have in the summer league,” Sopata said. “We played really, really well. The dedication was awesome. We had so many girls there working hard and committed to doing something great. You started to see pretty quickly that there wouldn’t be and chemistry issues, that this was going to be a strong team.”

The fall months did little to slow that momentum.

The Ravens hit the ground running when camp broke, and they haven’t slowed since.

A 57-37 win against Berkley High kick started the year and five straight wins. A 48-41 loss to Bloomfield Hills Andover has been the only setback overall and in Oakland Activities Association Blue Division play, where the Ravens (8-1 at press time) are battling with Andover (9-1) and Southfield High (7-1) for first place.

“We’ve been very consistent, and that’s been key,” senior guard Lizzie Girardot said while her team was in the midst of a seven-game win streak. “We’re all on the same page, playing really well. It’s exciting to be part of this.”

Asked why there’s been so much success, senior guard Annie Meinberg was quick to point back in time.

“Playing together all summer did so much for this team,” she said. “You saw right away how good we could be.”

Sopata admitted a bit of surprise at how this season has gone so far.

After a 12-9 finish last winter, the Ravens bid farewell to a solid cast of seniors and three starters.

This year’s squad has eight first-year varsity players on it.

“Yeah, I’m surprised,” Sopata said with a laugh of the 12-1 overall record. “But I’ll say this. We’ve had 53 practices so far, and 53 times I’ve felt like we’ve had a good one. The consistency, being level headed and keeping the focus, even with the winning, has been the main thing. … Our theme is getting better every day. It’s all we’ve concerned ourselves with.”

Still, the maturity within the team allows them to realize nothing has been accomplished yet.

The main goal remains centered on a division title, yet the Ravens have to play at Andover Feb. 7 and at Southfield Feb. 24 in the season finale.

“One game at a time,” Meinberg said with a smile. “That’s how we have to approach this. Not too many people picked us to do anything this year, but we’ve got a chance. We’re right in it.”