Southfield-Lathrup scores the final six points to upset Arbor Prep, 60-55
Ypsilanti — Ypsilanti Arbor Prep entered Friday’s game against Southfield-Lathrup as one of the hottest teams in the state, but Southfield-Lathrup is accustomed to playing competitive road games early in the season.
That road experience came through as the Chargers handed the Gators their first loss of the season, 60-55.
“It was a very good game,” Southfield-Lathrup coach Michele Marshall said. “Arbor Prep plays so hard. They’ll compete all the time, and it’s tough to come to their school, and get a win. They have potential to win the Class C championship, so to come in here and get the win is big.”
The Chargers (6-1) trailed for most of the game after taking an early first quarter lead. Junior Antoinette Miller, sophomore Deja Church and junior Taiye Bello all scored 16 points to help Southfield-Lathrup erased a six-point deficit.
Miller started the fourth quarter with a quick transition lay-up, but then Church took over. The 5-foot-8 guard cleaned up around the glass and scored around the basket to spark a 10-3 run that gave Southfield-Lathrup a 52-50 lead with three minutes to play.
“Antoinette is a captain for us. She was new to the program last year, and there were some growing pains. We would have dropped a game like this last year, but she’s helped our team grow up,” Marshall said.
Prep weathered the storm and answered with baskets from senior guard Zakiya Wells, and a big 3-pointer from senior Payton Sims that briefly gave the lead back to the Gators, 55-54, before Church and Miller stole it right back.
“It was a good game, but we lacked composure,” Arbor Prep coach Rod Wells said. “I think our players were paying attention to other things, and the crowd, and not the game. We really lost our concentration.
“At the end of the game, we need to get better at that, and we need to take this experience and grow from it. We had our chances.”
Arbor Prep (8-1) was down early in the first quarter until senior guard Zakiya Wells (11 points) made a 3-pointer that prompted Marshall to call a timeout as the Gators trailed 14-9.
The Gators offense continued to gain momentum behind the play of junior guard Nastassja Chambers (16 points) who scored five points in the second quarter. Chambers made a 3-pointer to push Prep’s lead to 30-25.
Senior Karlee Morris, Wells, and sophomore Kayla Knight rounded out a balanced attack with four points each, as Prep took a 32-27 lead at the half.
“Arbor Prep likes to get up and down the floor on every possession. We run, but we don’t run that much. So we needed to slow the game down a little bit. During our timeouts, I told the girls to clean up the turnovers, secure rebounds, and just take their time,” Marshall said.
The home crowd made for a hostile environment all game, which is something Marshall likes her players to experience because it’ll help them become “tough as nails”.
“It prepares us well. The state championship isn’t played at Lathrup. We do end up on the road a lot at the beginning of the season because of the showcases we play in. But those games make you tougher,” she said. “When you have to go to another school, play a very good team, and play in their environment, it makes you tougher.”
Southfield-Lathrup will go on the road again on Tuesday in an Oakland Activities Association crossover against Bloomfield. Arbor Prep will have a week off before it travels to Ann Arbor Huron on Jan. 17.
“We have the battle for Washtenaw (County) coming up. We’re going to grow from this game, and get better,” Wells said. “We can’t get our heads down, though. We have one of the best schedules in the state for a reason: we want to play the best teams. This game is going to be a great learning opportunity.”