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 Royal Oak Shrine girls hoops won its first regional championship since 1995 this season. Pictured, the team celebrates after winning the CHSL CD Division tournament earlier this season.

Royal Oak Shrine girls hoops won its first regional championship since 1995 this season. Pictured, the team celebrates after winning the CHSL CD Division tournament earlier this season.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


Shrine captures first regional title in more than two decades

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published March 19, 2019

 Shrine senior Grace Murray rises for a shot between two Wixom St. Catherine defenders in a game earlier this season.

Shrine senior Grace Murray rises for a shot between two Wixom St. Catherine defenders in a game earlier this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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With a win over New Haven High March 13, Royal Oak Shrine claimed its first regional title since 1995. The Knights beat the Rockets 55-27 in a Division 3 regional final at Marlette High.

“We were really happy with that win,” Shrine coach Wayne Gigante said. “We thought we were the best team in that bracket. It was a great thing for the kids.”

Gigante said the team was confident throughout the tournament; confident it was the better team in every game it played.

The Knights are winning with defense in the postseason. In the district tournament, they gave up an average of 13 points while scoring 53 in the span of three games. In the regional tournament, the Knights gave up an average of 24.5 points over two games while scoring 48.

Gigante said the secret to their success has been the preparation in practice.

“Our everyday goal is to have our best practice,” the coach said. “We always say that if we practice a certain way, and we are focused in our practices, then the games will take care of themselves.

 “We always talk about before games how this is practice,” Gigante continued. “These are the things we do every day in practice. We just need to go out and do them in the game.”

As they have all season, the Knights’ two seniors have led the way in the postseason. Grace Murray has done it with her play on the court, scoring 17 and 25 in the regional semifinal and final, respectively.

According to her coach, Grace Kruzewski’s leadership comes through by example — chasing after loose balls and gathering scrappy rebounds.

“The rest of the kids just understand their roles,” Gigante said. “We have a good mix right now and we have a good chemistry, and that’s the key to it. But our two seniors, Grace Murray and Grace Kruszewski are our catalysts. Those girls make us go.”

This playoff run has come on the heels of a third straight Catholic High School League championship. Gigante admitted that coming off that high and immediately returning to work was a challenge, but there were things outside of basketball that kept this group going strong.

“We had to continually remind them the importance of a strong finish,” Gigante said. “But really, I think they are such a tight-knit group. I know they speak amongst themselves on a regular basis. They were able to get themselves up again, and I think we had to give them a little extra to keep them up.”

Call Sports Writer Jacob Herbert at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.

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