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 Utica Ford II sophomore Karlin Stepp looks to make a play on the ball earlier this season. Falcons coach Matt Joseph wants to see the team stay in the race for the Macomb Area Conference White Division crown. The team last won a division title in 2017.

Utica Ford II sophomore Karlin Stepp looks to make a play on the ball earlier this season. Falcons coach Matt Joseph wants to see the team stay in the race for the Macomb Area Conference White Division crown. The team last won a division title in 2017.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Utica Ford II girls basketball working to be a balanced team

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 14, 2020

 Utica Ford II freshman Madison Bettys, left, goes up for a shot in a game earlier this season. The Falcons’ next game is against Utica High at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at home.

Utica Ford II freshman Madison Bettys, left, goes up for a shot in a game earlier this season. The Falcons’ next game is against Utica High at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at home.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Chemistry has been key early on for the Utica Ford II girls basketball team, but the squad is also working to be able to play any style that’s needed.

“We can play both an up-tempo style and a slow-down game,” said coach Matt Joseph, whose team sat at 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division at press time. “We prefer to play up-tempo, as we have some athletes, but — with our experience and if the game slows down — I feel our defense will keep us in games.”

That’s been the case so far this season, as the Falcons have shown improvement on both ends of the floor.

The Falcons offense is nearly 12 points better than last season, while the team is allowing more than eight points less per game on defense.

Defensively, Ford wants to pressure the ball.

“We want to control tempo and make (opposing) teams play at our pace,” Joseph said. “We hope to make other teams uncomfortable by taking them out of what they like to do best.”

Leading the way is a group of seasoned veterans. The Falcons rely on four three-year players — seniors Zahra Williams, Evgenia Koneva and Kelly Bartlett and junior Olivia Kubik.

Joseph is hopeful that group, part of a 13-player roster, can lead the team back to the top of the MAC White. Ford last won a division title in 2017. The team won one divisional game in 2018 and four in 2019 after going 10-0 in the MAC White in 2017.

Joseph sees Port Huron High and Utica High, along with defending MAC White champ Romeo High, as the teams to beat.

“We’ll have to compete every night and be consistent in order to win a division title,” Joseph said. “We hope to compete for a division title and make a long run in the (state) tournament. If we can limit our turnovers and win the rebounding battle, we should be in a position to do that.”

The Falcons’ next game is against Utica at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at home.

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