New coach, new division ups Groves’ game and Falcons look to take a step up as a program
Beverly Hills – The girls basketball program at Birmingham Groves put on a new face this season and it’s been years since the Falcons looked this good.
Groves won the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division last season and finished the regular season 18-2 before losing to Birmingham Seaholm, 54-44, in a Class A district opening round game.
The Falcons moved up to the White Division this season and are 13-2 overall, 9-1 in the division and on top of the division. Royal Oak (13-2) is 8-1 and a half game behind. The teams split their two meetings this season, each winning at home.
Groves has a new coach in Jessica Wieseler and the Falcons have a shot at equaling last season’s win total and can clinch at least a share of the division title if they win their final four division games. Groves will play at Rochester Adams in an OAA crossover on Monday at 7 p.m. and will resume division play on Wednesday when it plays at West Bloomfield at 7 p.m.
A bigger challenge awaits Groves in two weeks when it plays at Farmington Hills Mercy (15-2) in the first round of the districts at 6 p.m. Mercy is ranked No. 9. Groves hasn’t won a district game since 2011. Mercy reached a quarterfinal last season losing to Warren Cousino, 47-41. Groves has never played in a quarterfinal. The Falcons last won a district title in 1988.
“That’s been on my radar,” Wieseler said of district play. “Being in the Gold, you don’t play the best of competition, to get you ready for the tournament. (White Division) is better. Our athleticism has been tough for other teams in the division to handle.
“We try to switch up our defenses to take advantage of our athleticism. We’ll pressure full court and half court. Our half-court man (defense) is our fallback.”
Wieseler played basketball at Novi and started coaching at Grosse Pointe South as a junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant. She was the head coach at Hazel Park (2014-16) then took last season off.
Sha Carter is Groves’ leader. The 5-10 wing signed with Welsh (OH) College and leads the teams in four categories (scoring, rebounds, assists, and steals). As one of seven seniors on the team, Carter has taken it upon herself to motivate the other players and strengthen the program any way she can.
“She’s our everything,” Wieseler said. “She plays wherever we need her. She’s most comfortable at the three spot.”
Lauren Palmer is the team’s top defender and the Falcons have two point guards who split time there. Kayla Nelson is more of a scorer and Sacha Tyler is more of a traditional point guard who looks to pass first.
Wieseler set two team goals before the season. One was to win the division and the second was to make a significant run in the state tournament.
With five games left in the regular season, the ball is in Groves’ court.