Utica High girls hoops falls in regionals semis

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 18, 2019

 Utica High’s Rachel Whitehead attempts a shot in a Division 1 regional semifinal March 11 against St. Clair Shores Lakeview. The Chieftains fell 46-26.

Utica High’s Rachel Whitehead attempts a shot in a Division 1 regional semifinal March 11 against St. Clair Shores Lakeview. The Chieftains fell 46-26.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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UTICA — A season that included a Division 1 district championship recently came to a close for the Utica High girls basketball team.

The Chieftains fell March 11 to St. Clair Shores Lakeview 46-26 in a regional semifinal. The Chieftains were outscored 28-11 in the second and third quarters.

“We picked a bad time to play our worst game of the year,” Chieftains coach Tom McDonald said. “We were down 21 points. That’s the biggest deficit we faced this year. We just couldn’t handle their defensive pressure. We couldn’t get into our sets. Credit to Lakeview.”

Senior Cayley Ebeling led the Chieftains in scoring with 10 points. Senior Lindsey Michol and freshman Lina Rea both chipped in with 4, and senior Mone Knowles had 3.

“That’s a scrappy team. They never quit,” Lakeview coach Joe Charrette said of Utica. “We knew they’d play hard all night, and they did.”

Lakeview went on to win the regional title and played Southfield A&T in a quarterfinal after press time.

The Chieftains finished the season as the runner-up in the Macomb Area Conference White Division at 7-3. Overall, they were 15-8.

“Obviously we didn’t want the season to end like this, but this doesn’t take away from the season we had. We won a lot of games. We won a district title. We had a pretty good year,” McDonald said.

Utica experienced plenty of ups and downs in the past month. The Chieftains started out the MAC Red/White tournament with a loss to Warren Cousino, but bounced back to beat MAC White champion Romeo High in a consolation game and MAC Blue champion New Baltimore Anchor Bay in the final game of the regular season.

The district tournament was also kind to the Chieftains, who beat Troy High to win their first district title in nearly 20 years.

“It felt great,” McDonald said. “We had a lot of good opportunities throughout the years but couldn’t finish one off, so it was very rewarding to win.”

Ebeling, Knowles, Ashley Lagodzinski and Michol are all seniors who were on the roster. All season long, McDonald has praised Ebeling and Knowles for their work on the offensive and defensive ends, respectively.

But this senior group as a whole was one that left an everlasting impression in the mind of their veteran coach.

“(They left) a legacy of doing things the right way,” McDonald said. “There are four seniors this year, and three of them are three-sport athletes while the fourth plays two. They are also great students, leaders and teammates.”

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