Thurston leading the way for Rochester High girls hoops

By: Jacob Herbert | Rochester Post | Published December 17, 2019

 Rochester High’s Jackie Hurst elevates for a shot Dec. 13 against Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day at home. The Falcons beat the Yellowjackets 42-21 to pick up their first win of the season.

Rochester High’s Jackie Hurst elevates for a shot Dec. 13 against Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day at home. The Falcons beat the Yellowjackets 42-21 to pick up their first win of the season.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ROCHESTER — After some reshuffling of the chairs at Rochester High, the girls basketball team has a new head coach. Bill Thurston is leading the Falcons as they compete in the 2019-20 season.

Thurston graduated from Rochester in 1990 and has coached the freshman boys and the girls junior varsity teams. He was also a girls varsity assistant coach under Al Poynter during the 2017-18 season.

“Bill’s passion and knowledge of basketball is what really stuck out during the interview process,” Falcons Athletic Director Dean Allen said via email. “Couple those attributes with his playing background and being an alumnus, (and) the athletic department felt confident he was the right person for the job.”

Thurston played football and basketball during his time as a student at Rochester. Among his many other coaching stops was a stint as the girls JV coach at Walled Lake Northern.

“Being back here at Rochester is something that once I got back into coaching, that’s what I wanted to do,” Thurston said. “Here I am finally. It’s been fun.”

At press time, the Falcons were 1-3 overall and fresh off a 42-21 win over Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. Thurston called the season so far a learning experience as the players and coach become more acclimated with one another.

Thurston brings an aggressive coaching style to his new team. He wants the Falcons to play more uptempo basketball and push the ball up the court.

In order to facilitate that aggressive style, Thurston is pushing for his team to shoot more from beyond the arc.

“We’ve been shooting no less than 18 (3-pointers) per game trying to get that tempo going. Trying to think a little bit less and just play basketball,” Thurston said. “Sometimes they overanalyze things; I’m trying to get them to just play basketball.”

The leadership corps that the Falcons bring into the season consists of junior Megan Lorenzo and seniors Laura Kucera and Sophia Williams.

Lorenzo led Rochester in scoring last season. Both Kucera and Lorenzo were named to the All-League team in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division. Williams acts as another coach both on and off the floor.

“The girls look up to her, and it makes my life a little bit easier as a coach to be able to lean on her,” Thurston said.

When it comes to goals and expectations for the Falcons, consistent improvement is paramount. Regardless of the team’s 1-3 start to the season, Thurston said the team is getting better.

Consistent improvement will be key as the Falcons fight through the OAA Blue schedule. Rochester finished 10-1 in conference play last season, tying Berkley High for the top spot. The team is again expecting to compete for the division championship.

The Falcons also want to be the city champs this year by beating both Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and Rochester Adams.

“My ultimate goal is obviously I want the girls to succeed in what they’re doing, and I want them to have a winning season — that’s pretty important,” the coach said.

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