Unheralded St. Clair Shores Lakeview girls team gears up for a possible second district title in three seasons
St. Clair Shores – When Joe Charrette took over the girls basketball program at St. Clair Shores Lakeview in 2011 he couldn’t help but notice the lack of interest at the lower levels. Since building a program starts from the bottom up, Charrette knew he had some work to do.
Charrette has coached in St. Clair Shores for 17 seasons, the last seven at Lakeview. It’s taken a few years but Charrette has molded the Huskies into one of the top teams in Macomb County.
Two years ago Lakeview defeated Grosse Pointe North in a district final before losing to Birmingham Marian, 47-36, in a regional semifinal. That district title was the school’s first in Class A. The last time the program won a district title was in 1998 in Class B.
Last season Lakeview started 16-0 and finished the season 21-2 after losing to G.P. North in a district final. The 21 victories is a school record.
This season the Huskies again opened the season with 16 consecutive victories and they will play at Center Line (4-11) on Friday in the first round of the Macomb Area Conference Blue/Gold division playoffs. Lakeview this post-season, pre-state tournament, tournament last season.
So you say you don’t know about Lakeview and that you don’t find the Huskies ranked in any of the rankings supplied by media outlets, including State Champs?
Macomb County has been dominated recently by teams like Macomb Dakota, Warren Cousino and Warren Regina. Other members of the MAC, like Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South, and St. Clair, have all enjoyed success over the last 10 to 15 seasons.
What Charrette and his staff have done recently has helped increase the level of competition. Though the program is not at the level of a Dakota or Cousino, for example, Lakeview has become relevant.
Truthfully, it’s been a gradual, some would say a slow, rise. Lakeview was 10-10 in Charrette’s first season before losing to G.P. South in a district final. Lakeview lost again to South in a 2013 district semifinal before the program dipped in ’14 as the Huskies finished 7-14.
In ’15 Lakeview lost in a district final to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore and won a district title the following season.
Charrette, a 1984 Lakeview graduate, said he learned much at Lake Shore when he was an assistant coach for eight seasons under Jay Ritchie. Charrette went to St. Clair Shores South Lake as a head coach from 2009-11 before returning to his alma mater.
Within the Lakeview school district, there is a youth basketball league, the Little Huskies, that services boys and girls, K-6. This year Charrette said there are 110 girls participating. According to statistics provided by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, participation in girls basketball rose by 2.2 percent for the 2016-17 season. In each of the previous 10 seasons, participation had dropped.
When Charrette came to Lakeview in 2011 he was taken aback by the lack of participation at the lower levels.
“When I took over the girls were combined with the boys,” Charrette said. “I think we had like three girls total.
“It wasn’t like the program I took over was at the bottom. They were .500 (10-10) before they lost in the districts. When I left South Lake that was my daughter Allison’s senior year. My other daughter, Leah, was a freshman on that team and we did that complete move thing, moving in with my parents, when I came to Lakeview.”
As a point of reference, Charrette said Lakeview sponsors teams at all three levels and that the numbers are strong.
Leah Charrette played at Concordia College after graduating in 2014 and she helped build what was to come later.
Nicole Austin, a point guard, was largely responsible for the success of the previous two seasons but she graduated last June. Stepping in at that position is her sister, Kalya, a 5-5 freshman. Senior Lauren Wynn (5-9) is Lakeview’s best all-around player this season and the team’s top defender. Senior Alicia Bullaro is Charrette’s top perimeter shooter and sophomore Joslyn Brennan is his most highly-recruited player. Brennan is 6-3 and has shown much improvement from a year ago.
“I didn’t think we would be this good this year,” Charrette said. “We lost three seniors from our top seven players. I thought maybe we’d finish 15-5 or so going into the tournament. We’ve developed into a good defensive team. We’re giving up like 28 points a game. We weren’t this good at the beginning of the season.”
Looking ahead to the state tournament which begins Feb. 26, Lakeview will play Lake Shore on that date with the winner taking on a talented G.P. North team, at North, on Feb. 28 in a district semifinal at 7 p.m.