Utica High sophomore Lina Rea pushes the ball up the court Jan. 14 against Sterling Heights Stevenson at home. Rea is one of the emerging young stars on the roster according to coach Tom McDonald.

Utica High sophomore Lina Rea pushes the ball up the court Jan. 14 against Sterling Heights Stevenson at home. Rea is one of the emerging young stars on the roster according to coach Tom McDonald.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Utica High girls basketball competing in tough MAC White

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 20, 2020

 Utica High junior Ava Hallam looks to get around a defender in an earlier game this season. At press time, Utica was 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.

Utica High junior Ava Hallam looks to get around a defender in an earlier game this season. At press time, Utica was 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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UTICA — Utica High girls basketball coach Tom McDonald knows that consistent improvement is key early on in the season. That is the main goal of his Chieftains as they look to keep pace in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.

At press time, Utica was 6-4 overall and 3-2 in the MAC White, one game back of undefeated Port Huron High.

“When people talk about goals for the year, we always say our goal is to get better every day, and if we do that, by the end of the year we’re going to be pretty darn good,” McDonald said. “We just want to be better fundamentally and we want to make sure we have consistent effort.”

If Utica is to be successful this year and take home its first division title since the 2015-2016 season, it starts with the leadership of the senior class.

McDonald has eight seniors on this year’s team, and the veteran coach uniquely made all eight girls team captains.

Seniors Rachel Whitehead, Mary Goepper, Courtney Christian, Maya Narusch, Amanda Feeman, Lauryn Holmes, Madison Barch and Frankie Rea will all play a hand in guiding the Chieftains.

“I think it’s good for the underclassmen to see so many different leaders and have so many different people to look up to,” Barch said. “For us it’s good because if one of us is having an off day one of the other leaders can pick them back up.”

Barch said she learned a lot from last year’s seniors, in particular Moné Knowles, who played the same position as the current senior. Barch was able to pick up on the little things Knowles did and improved her game because of it.

“The other seniors just really knew how to lead the team and pick up other players when they were down,” Barch said.

No season passes without adversity, and the Chieftains have faced their share in the form of injuries. Feeman and Holmes suffered injuries earlier in the season and have been held off the floor ever since.

McDonald hopes to get those players back by the end of January, but noted that the absence of his injured players have opened up playing time for underclassman.

One underclassmen who has been making splashes for Utica has been sophomore Lina Rea.

Rea started as a freshman and is back again running the floor from her point guard position.

“She makes us go as a point guard,” McDonald said. “She plays with great pace, energy and is a very good passer. She gets us going.”

McDonald is impressed with his squad’s ability to play full-court defense. The team works hard to turn defense into offense and has been able to improve its scoring. The Chieftains average 43.9 points per game and give up 35.1.

“We just want to play hard, play with energy every single game and have fun doing what we’re doing, because if we’re not having fun then what’s the point,” Barch said. “Play hard, play together and see where it takes us.”

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