Utica High senior Cayley Ebeling takes the ball down the court in a recent home game against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek. The Chieftains were 3-3, 1-0 MAC White, at press time.

Utica High senior Cayley Ebeling takes the ball down the court in a recent home game against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek. The Chieftains were 3-3, 1-0 MAC White, at press time.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Utica High girls basketball coach likes team’s prospects

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 7, 2019

UTICA — Tom McDonald has been coaching basketball at Utica High since 1991. He has coached a lot of different players and a lot of different teams.

McDonald said there are both similarities and differences between his current team and those of years past.

“If you just look at them from an athletic standpoint, it’s as athletic of a team as we’ve ever had,” the coach said. “We’re very talented and we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. Because of their work ethic and the type of people they are, that gives us the opportunity to improve and do good things at the end of the year.”

At press time, the Chieftains were 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division. As is the case for a lot of teams, the MAC White runners-up from a year ago are looking to be more consistent.

“At the defensive end, we’re trying to exert more ball pressure and move a little earlier,” McDonald said. “Offensively, it’s always the same thing with spacing and movement, and we’re trying to get there. We try to play fast, we do a lot of pressing, and we try to push the basketball offensively.”

Consistency with effort and consistency with fundamentals sit atop the Chieftains’ to-do list. McDonald believes his team has the chance to be successful if they can cross those items off the list.

Leading the way for McDonald this year are his four seniors: Lindsey Michol, Mone Knowles, Cayley Ebeling and Ashley Lagodzinski.

McDonald called Ebeling his most productive scorer this season and said Knowles’ main contribution comes from her shutdown defense. Double-digit rebounds are commonplace with Knowles.

“We have a great senior group and they lead by example,” McDonald said. “They’re great teammates, they do everything right and they’re great students. It just filters down, and we really have 14 great kids.”

Mixed in with those 14 players is freshman point guard Lina Rea. After losing an all-county point guard, McDonald admitted he was reluctant to start Rea because he was unsure of her ability to handle such heavy responsibilities.

With just a handful of games into the season, Rea has done a “great job,” according to her coach.

As far as goals are concerned, McDonald did not want to put anything long term in front of his team. He said the only goal he’s looking at is getting better every day.

Utica High’s next game is against Sterling Heights High at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at home.