Country Day wins 12th title in school history, 59-48 over Arbor Prep
East Lansing – When Detroit Country Day took floor on Saturday afternoon in the Class B state final, just two years removed from its last title, the Yellowjackets didn’t want to just win a 12th state title in school history.
They wanted to win their 12th title for their legendary coach, Frank Orlando, who suffered a stroke last spring, but returned to the bench for his 50th season this year.
Behind a strong second quarter and red-hot shooting from the floor, shooting almost 65-percent, Country Day would go on for a 59-48 win over Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, last year’s Class C state champion.
“For me personally, I was playing for Coach O because during the offseason last year Coach O had a stroke,” senior Destiny Pitts said. “That just hit me hard, so this season I’ve just been playing for him because I know how important it is for him. Coming into this game, we just had extreme confidence because we wanted to take the state championship back to Country Day and for our fans and for our community.”
Orlando said after Saturday’s game that he will be returning for a 51st season on the bench as head coach for the Yellowjackets next season.
“I think it was a misconception or something that I was all done,” Orlando said. “I just love it so much that something just keeps me going. I don’t know what it is, but I know I want to coach next year.”
After a back and forth start to the game, Country Day (26-1) outscored Arbor Prep 18-6 in the final 10 minutes of the first half to take a 27-15 lead into halftime behind eight points from junior Kaela Webb.
In the second half, Country Day didn’t cool off from the field, opening up a 16-point lead with two baskets from senior Tylar Bennett (committed to Clemson) to start the second half.
Pitts, who scored 13 of her game-high 17 points in the second half, said that she felt that the key for her team’s hot shooting was it ability to move the ball against a tough Arbor Prep defense.
“I think we did that by just keep moving the ball,” she said “We weren’t forcing shots, we just keep swinging it around until we find the open person and I think each individual person on the team did extremely well by sharing the ball and when they were open, they shot it.”
Arbor Prep did find some success in the fourth quarter, managing to cut the deficit down inside 10 on multiple occasions, including with less than three minutes left to play when a Ro’zhane Wells basket cut Country Day’s lead to 48-39.
Lasha Petree led Arbor Prep (27-1) with 15 points, while Wells finished with 14.
But the Yellowjackets shooting proved to be too much for the Gators as back-to-back baskets from Pitts and Bennett, followed by another 3-pointer from Webb gave Country Day a 55-40 lead.
Bennett finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five blocks on the night, while Webb contributed 13 points and nine assists in the win for Country Day. Pitts had 10 rebounds to go with her 17 points.
Orlando said that this year’s state title was an emotional one for him, because his senior class that helped lead the way to two titles is moving on.
“When we won when they were sophomores and freshmen, I was excited and I was very happy, I was kind of surprised that we did it,” he said. “This year, it was more emotional because they’re leaving now. Destiny and Tylar and two other seniors are leaving me now. I like that they’re going, don’t get me wrong, but it’s kind of sad for me.”