At the Class A girls basketball district finals Friday night, added yet another district title to its continuing success of recent years, defeating St. Clair Shores Lake Shore, 41-27.
Behind a strong team effort and tenacious defense, North built a 24-17 halftime lead before clamping down even more defensively in the second half.
Sophomore Taryn Kiah led the North squad with 15 points. Floor leader scored nine points, and Anajai Gutierrez had eight points.
But the tenor of the night was set by team play and defense.
“Defense is our strength, we work on defense all the time,” Grosse Pointe North coach Gary Bennett said. “They’re proud of their defense. … I thought our defense in the second half was really good. I really thought they (Lake Shore) had trouble getting it into their end.
“That’s our style, that’s our program,” Bennett said. “Sometimes we’re pretty good offensively, at other times we’re not so good, but our defense is usually pretty solid.”
Bennett seemed most pleased about the Norsemen’s teamwork.
“It’s absolutely a team game,” he said. “You ask any of them, it’s all about team.”
Kiah echoed those sentiments.
“Working out on defense, being a team, knowing that everyone has someone’s back,” Kiah said. “That’s what our program instills in us.”
Micaela Liddane agreed.
“We like to share the ball,” Liddane said. “We kind of define teamwork as working together on offense ... (and) more of like working hard for each other on defense.”
For Lake Shore coach Jimmy Roehm, North’s defense and offensive execution kept the Shorians at bay.
“They’ve got four or five girls who can really handle the basketball, and they executed fundamentally sound,” Roehm said. “They really got us out of our offensive flow a little bit. We didn’t really run any of our sets tonight, because they never really let us get into them.”
Despite the loss, Roehm praised the effort of Lake Shore’s seniors, in particular Sara Coppola and Alicia Huerta.
“They put their heart and soul into it for four years,” Roehm said. “They were great leaders, lot of heart. … They played so hard, to know that was their last game, I mean, I couldn’t ask any more of them. They left it all on the floor, all five of them tonight.”
Grosse Pointe North now heads back home to their home court for regional play Tuesday night to face Warren Regina.
But before moving on too fast, Friday’s victory offered a moment of reflection for Coach Bennett.
“They got better because they worked hard,” he said. “So I respect my kids, and I’m happy for them.”