Lakeview wins first district since 1998, upsets North, 45-42
St. Clare Shores – Nicole Austin had it all planned out.
Her St. Clair Shores Lakeview team would enter its Class A district final against Grosse Pointe North with a different attitude, a different game plan and, with a little help, a different outcome than there was when these teams met on Feb. 25.
North (17-6), one of the top teams in the Macomb Area Conference, defeated Lakeview, 55-41, in a MAC crossover and this time the Norsemen were without their most productive player, 6-foot freshman Julia Ayrault, who suffered a head injury in Monday’s district opener. Ayrault was diagnosed on Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms and did not play in Wednesday’s semifinal and was not cleared to play for Friday’s final.
Lakeview took advantage of North’s loss, controlled the inside game and defeated North, 45-42, at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.
It’s the school’s first district title in girls basketball since 1998. Lakeview was Class B then. This was the school’s first Class A title.
“This game was just more important,” Austin said. “We were kind of bummed when we lost to them. But we were playing like, it was more an of AAU style. This time we ran more of our sets. We were more determined.
“We usually get a lot of second chance points and we did again tonight. We have some big players inside. But the free throws, we’ve always been bad.”
Austin, a junior point guard, is one of four underclassmen in the starting lineup. Austin’s 12 points led the Huskies and she had a half dozen steals. Lashana Young, a 5-10 junior post player, scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth quarter and had eight rebounds. Kaci McGee (5-10), the lone senior starter, had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Lakeview held a 45-35 edge in rebounds as North sorely missed Ayrault near the basket.
North coach Gary Bennett said before the game that his team would be challenged without his center but he didn’t use it as an excuse.
“We’ve got other girls,” he said. “We missed a lot of layups and free throws. Lakeview worked hard for this. I’m disappointed because we knew what we were capable of. It’s tough to go with two of your best players on the bench.”
The second was junior Katie Snow. Snow fouled out with 1:56 left in the third quarter ending an odd set of circumstances.
Lakeview led 26-21 when Snow was called for an offensive foul that nullified her layup with 2:05 left. It was her fourth foul and Bennett was unable to substitute and when Snow stole the inbound and scored four seconds later Lakeview’s lead was cut to 26-23 and it appeared that Snow could carry on with those four fouls. But she went for another steal and paid the price.
Snow had nine points and five rebounds but it was the energy and poise she proves that hurt the Norsemen most.
Lakeview led 29-27 after three quarters and looked to be in complete control when Young scored her final points on a put-back with 3:52 left giving the Huskies a 42-32 lead.
North never got closer than three points but Lakeview left the door open as it missed five of its eight free throw attempts in the last 1:50.
Evelyn Zacharias led North with 14 points and her fourth 3-pointer of the game brought North within 45-42 with 55 seconds remaining.
Lakeview committed just its second turnover of the fourth 20 seconds later but North missed an uncontested layup with 28 seconds left. Austin got the rebound, her seventh, and called time with 22.2 seconds left. North didn’t foul until there was 3.9 seconds left and even though Lakeview missed both free throws North was unable to get off a potential game-tying shot.
Lakeview coach Joe Charrette credited his team for keeping their poise down the stretch.
“I called time out and before I said anything Nicole said, ‘coach, we’re going to win this game’,” he said. “I told them if we made our free throws and we win. They missed a few and things got interesting.”
They will remain interesting for the Huskies (14-8) as they play two-time defending champion Birmingham Marian (16-7) in a regional semifinal on Tuesday at Roseville at 7 p.m.