Burney's Bytes - Blog Entry # 3
A little taste more of the best Oakland County prep hoops squads i've personally witnessed over the past two decades. The first two teams on my list - 1989-91 DCD and 1993 Walled Lake Central - were from big schools. Now, we're going to switch gears to some of the area's best small school teams i've seen play in the last 20 years.
3. 1992 Oakland Christian (Girls)
The '92 Lancers' Class D state championship squad is the only girls team to make my list, but believe me, these ladies represent all women of the hardwood to the fullest. Oakland Christian may be a very small school (high school enrollment is less than 200), however this group of girls who took home a state title team could play with any team in the history of the county, regardless of size. Despite not being very deep - head coach Ed Mehlberg only gave regular playing time to seven girls - these Lancers were a high octane bunch, that could play a variety of styles, and did it with style and flair.
Led into battle by 5-9 "point forward" Laurie Ales, one of the best female ball players ever to step foot on an Oakland County high school court, this team compiled a gaudy 26 -1 record and romped through the first six rounds of the state tournament winning games by an average of 23 points per game. In the their semi-final game against Baraga, the state's number one ranked team the entire year, Ales spearheaded an 11-point comeback in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime. Scoring 18 of her 29 points in the contest's final eight minutes, Ales knocked down a pair of game-winning free throws in the closing seconds of the extra stanza to advance her team into the state final. Squaring off against Grand Rapids Covenent Christian in the title game the following afternoon, Ales poured in 25 points, dished off seven assists, and pulled down five rebounds in Oakland Christian's 53-36 victory.
As good as its star player was, this team was a lot more than just Laurie Ales. Playing besides her were two other all-
state performers in 5-10 power forward Heather Davis and 5-7 shooting guard Julie Lutfy, both big reasons why the Lancers' were as good as they were. Davis, who would go on to play her college ball at Oral Roberts, was an inside-outside threat that proved to be the team's emotional leader. Lutfy, an eventual college soccer star, was a superior outside shooter, who could also drive the lane and split time at the point guard spot with Ales. Rounding out the '92 Oakland Christian starting-line up was Nicole Hickson, a solid post player at the center position and Patty Goss, the squad's defensive stopper and small forward.
4. 1993 Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes
Not highly-ranked nor thought of as much of threat in state basketball circles at the beginning of the season, the '93 Lakers came out of nowhere to make a run all the way to the Class D final four. Coached by MHSAA sideline legend, Mike Boyd (multiple state championships in both football and softball), this Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes team was gritty, determined, and most of all well-rounded.
Paul Robak, the squad's high-scoring all-state point guard, had range from all over the floor and knew how to use the defensive attention he often attracted from opposing teams as a means of finding open teammates. Benefiting most from the fact that the opposition keyed on Robak were ace marksmen Jason Knake, Robak's sharpshooting backcourt mate and Glen Badour, a small forward who was a good slasher with a steady pull-up jumper. The team's post play was handled by the burly frontcourt of 6-5 center Michael Miller, the Lakers' second leading scorer, and 6-4 power forward Ryan McCallister, a standout lineman on the football team and the squad's resident brute. Miller had a velvety touch around the basket and when necessary could stretch defenses by coming outside and knocking down shots from the perimeter. Each member of the starting five knew and embraced their role, leading to outstanding team chemistry and a 17-3 record in the regular season. Crafty swingman Saylor Frase headed a strong reserve unit that was crucial to the squad's overall success.
When Robak drained a 45 footer at the buzzer to beat Birmingam Roeper, 63-62 on the road on opening night, WOLL fans and players had a feeling that the season was destined to be one to remember. Defeating Fowler 89-83 in an old fashioned shootout to take home the school's first ever regional title in boys basketball, the Lakers had a date in the quarterfinals with East Catholic, who was ranked number one in the state and led by 6-9 Winifred Walton (Syracuse/Fresno State). Containing Walton and getting a combined 45 points from Robak and Miller, the Lakers defeated the much-lauded East Catholic team and advanced to the semi-finals where they eventually lost.