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South beats North, Ford to win title

February 20, 2014
Grosse Pointe South girls' basketball team earned at least a share of the Macomb Area Conference Red Division championship with its 59-44 road win over city rival Grosse Pointe North last week.

The Blue Devils used a dominating 22-6 first quarter to ride the wave of success to the victory.

"We wanted to establish our tempo and we were able to do that with our press," South head coach Kevin Richards said. "However, I didn't think we played up to our potential. Grosse Pointe North played us tough."

The Blue Devils turned several turnovers into transition baskets. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead, which grew to 17-2 a couple of minutes later.

"I thought South did a great job in transition, especially in the first quarter," North head coach Gary Bennett said. "They went out, took control of the game, and never gave it up.

South junior Cierra Rice, center, had a season-high 32 points in the Blue Devils' league title clinching win over Ford. Photos by Bob Bruce
"That's what good teams do. They are very athletic, have good basketball sense and play with a great deal of confidence. That's a pretty tough combination to play against. We couldn't match them in any of those categories."

The Norsemen settled down and played better basketball in the final three quarters. They outscored the Blue Devils 17-15 in the second quarter and 10-7 in the fourth, while the visitors won the third stanza 15-11.

North sophomore Erin Armbruster has put together a solid season for head coach Gary Bennett and the Norsemen. photo by Bob Bruce.
Both teams had a 20-point scorer with South junior Cierra Rice and North senior Jayla Hubbard leading the charge.

"I thought Jayla Hubbard played and competed with great urgency and efficiency," Bennett said. "It was easily the best game of her career. I was very proud of her."

Other top scorers for the Blue Devils were junior Aliezza Brown with 12 and senior Bre Andrews with 11.

Defensively, Andrews had eight rebounds and sophomore Benna Ames had nine.

For the Norsemen, sophomore Erin Armbruster had 10 points and sophomore Katelyn Carney had six.

South won the outright MAC Red Division championship two nights later, defeating Utica Ford 69-60.

"I am disappointed with our lack of defense, especially in the paint," Richards said. "Ford had too many open looks and took it right at us. Teams are in awe of our press and we have to change that before we get to the state playoffs."

The Blue Devils got off to a fast start for a second straight game, leading 18-11. They forced the Falcons into 12 first-quarter turnovers and seemed to have control.

Ford never backed down and stood toe-to-toe with the division champions. They hit several open three-point looks and were able to claw back in the game by forcing the Blue Devils into turnovers.

"Ford came right at us," Richards said. "We didn't play our style of basketball."

The Blue Devils took too many long three-point shots and only made six in the game. They also finished with 19 turnovers and forced the Falcons into only seven more turnovers in the final three quarters.

Things were tight in the fourth quarter until sophomore Anna Carmody made a three-pointer from the far corner and Rice had two baskets in a three-second span to put the game away.

Rice finished with a season-high 32 points and Andrews had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Brown had 19 points and sophomore Tamira McCoy-Motton had 10 rebounds.

Grosse Pointe South improved to 11-0 in the MAC Red and 18-1 overall.

North also played last week, beating Ford 55-52 in overtime and Chippewa Valley 37-24.

Against Ford, the Norsemen trailed by nine points in the third quarter, but forged ahead thanks to scoring efforts of Armbruster, who had 16 points. Hubbard and junior Megan Lesha, who had 12 points apiece.

The Norsemen had no trouble disposing of winless Chippewa Valley as Hubbard had 10 points. Sophomore Lucy Dodge had nine points, followed by sophomore Lauren Lesha with six and Armbruster with five.

Grosse Pointe North improved to 6-5 in the MAC Red and 10-8 overall.

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