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Southfield A&T girls basketball battling in OAA Red

By: Zachary Manning | Southfield Sun | Published February 6, 2019

 Southfield A&T senior Soleil Barnes pushes the ball up the floor in a game against Chicago Phillips Dec. 28. At press time, the Warriors were 12-1 overall and 5-0 in the OAA Red.

Southfield A&T senior Soleil Barnes pushes the ball up the floor in a game against Chicago Phillips Dec. 28. At press time, the Warriors were 12-1 overall and 5-0 in the OAA Red.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

SOUTHFIELD –– There’s no denying that the Southfield A&T girls basketball team has talent.

Senior Soleil Barnes has signed with the University of Toledo; senior Alexis Johnson is signed with Marshall University; junior Cheyenne McEvans has numerous Division I offers; and coach Michele Marshall said a few others have a shot to play at the next level.

However, Marshall knows that talent can only take you so far. She admitted that multiple players on her team could go elsewhere and be a top option, but added that her players don’t look at individual accolades. Instead, they are focused on winning.

“I think I’m really hard on them, because I know how good they can be. At times, when they don’t play up to their potential, it can be a little bit frustrating, but they’re great kids,” Marshall said. “When I see them put it all together on the floor, they can be and they are one of the more talented teams I’ve ever coached. This is year 26 for me, and I’ve had some special teams, but this team can be right up there.”

Winning is something the Warriors have been able to do a lot of this season. At press time, A&T was 12-1 overall and 5-0 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division. The Warriors are battling with Royal Oak High, which was also undefeated in league play at press time. The two teams were scheduled to meet Feb. 5.

Outside of her main stars, Marshall has been getting a lot of production from multiple players. She has been very impressed with the play of Jasmine Worthy, Kayiona Willis, Kayla Trammer, Essence Pickett and Nia Lawson.

Worthy is averaging nearly a double-double with points and rebounds; Marshall called Willis the quickest player in the starting lineup; Trammer plays with high energy and toughness; Lawson does all of the little things that the team needs; and Pickett is a player who brings toughness and rebounding.

“It just takes the pressure off and allows them to just play basketball and be kids,” Marshall said of her squad’s depth. “At the end of the day, win or lose, that’s what it’s about: these kids enjoying themselves and having fun. I see these kids doing that, so that makes me smile more than anything else and makes me happy more than anything else. I’m just really proud of the group that they are.”

Marshall also enjoys facing the tough competition in the OAA Red, along with battling the likes of defending Division 1 state champion Saginaw Heritage and defending D-2 state champion Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. A&T’s only loss of the season came back in December, when the Warriors lost a two-point game to Heritage.

Marshall knows that being able to play the state’s best teams throughout the season is only preparing her team for what it will see down the stretch of the season.

With the amount of talent on the team and what it has accomplished so far this year, the goal is to win a state title. However, Marshall knows that it’s going to take a lot of work to end the season on top.

“This team really has all the pieces. If we can put it together, I really do think we can win a state championship,” Marshall said. “I know there are some very good teams out there. … I know it takes a lot of things: coming together as a team, a little bit of luck, the right draw and so forth. I know there’s some things that have to fall into place, but when we play together and we’re all on one page and they play up to their potential, I think we’re as good as anybody that we’ll have to play in Division 1 to win a championship.”