Lathrup has big plans for final season

Lathrup has big plans for final season


Lathrup has big plans for final season


Lathrup coach Michele Marshall has words of advice for her players during a timeout.

Lathrup coach Michele Marshall has words of advice for her players during a timeout.

Coach Michele Marshall and her Southfield-Lathrup players are planning for another good year in girls basketball, and their high hopes are certainly justified.

The Chargers return four starters from a team that was unbeaten in the OAA Red Division, was ranked No. 2 in the state and finished with a 21-2 record.

Last season ended with a loss to two-time defending Class A champion Marian in a regional semifinal. The Chargers hope to make a longer run in the 2016 tournament.

“With that amount of talent, we can’t go under the radar again,” Marshall said. “As a result, we’re looking to do some good things.

“We’re hoping to get to the Breslin (Center for the state semis). I think we have a good chance of doing that. We had a good record last year, and we return most of those kids.

“Our goal is to win the OAA Red and give our school a (state) championship prior to the merger. It’s a long road to get there, but we feel really good with the team we have put in place.”

A state title would be the perfect ending for the school’s final season as Lathrup will merge with Southfield next year.

“We’ll try our best to enjoy this year as we go,” Marshall said. “We’re going to take the time to enjoy working with this group of kids. We’re going to have a good season and a lot fun.

“We’ll see what happens at the end and where we end up. We’ll take the opportunity to enjoy the last season playing under the Lathrup name.”

In the front court, the Chargers return 6-foot-3 senior twins Taiye and Kehinde Bello. Both signed last month with Minnesota.

Taiye, who begins her fourth season on the varsity, was third in team scoring with 12 points per game. She also averaged a team-best 10 rebounds.

Kehinde, who joined the varsity as a sophomore, contributed three points, six rebounds and three blocks per game.

The leading scorer was 5-7 senior point guard Antoinette Miller, a future University of Cincinnati player. Her points tally was 16 a game; she averaged six assists, five rebounds and three steals, too.

She will be joined in the starting lineup again by 5-8 junior guard and small forward Deja Church. She has not made a college commitment, but she has 25 offers from Division I schools.

Church, who earned all-state honors as did Miller and Taiye Bello, had impressive numbers, too, with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals a game.

“This will be the third year these kids have been together,” Jackson said. “A couple years ago, we had injuries and they had to play major minutes as ninth and 10th graders.

“As a result, we’ve seen them grow together. They have good chemistry, and we look to build on that.

“We have seven of 11 back from last year’s team, so we’re looking to have a pretty successful season. It’s going to be an interesting season, being the last year of our school being open.”

The fifth starter will be 5-6 junior guard Benjanae Smith, who was one of the top reserves last season and will start at the two position.

The other returning players are 5-5 sophomore guard Shawna Manning and 5-9 senior forward Xavi Cobb.

Kamryn Collier, a transfer from Southfield High and a 5-9 sophomore forward, will have a backup role in the post. Junior guards Ebony Moore and Rose Hobson also are new to the varsity.

Lathrup defeated Detroit Mumford in its season opener Tuesday, 61-36. The Chargers played Bay City John Glenn in the Arbor Prep Showcase Saturday and will play Grand Rapids Catholic Central in another showcase event at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at Dearborn Heights Robichaud.

Lathrup will begin defense of its OAA Red championship the first week in January.

“The OAA Red is always competitive regardless of how many people graduated,” Marshall said. “Every game is going to be competitive, because we have good kids and good coaches in that division. I’m expecting some good things from us, but I know that no game will be easy.”

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