2008-02-14 / Sports

Sports View 2/14/2008

While some area high school girls’ basketball titles have been decided, it’s do-or-die time for others as district action is set to tip off Feb. 18.
Almont earned its first outright Blue Water Area crown since 1956, and Goodrich won the Genesee Area Conference-Red. However, the two squads are on different district paths this season after Goodrich defeated the Raiders last year. At first glance, Almont has a pretty easy trip through their district, with Capac, Imlay City and Armada in the mix, all teams the Raiders have beaten this season. However, an unknown Pontiac Notre Dame Prep could be the spoiler.
Goodrich has to get past Flint Northwestern or Mt. Morris, which is pretty attainable, but then has to face Birch Run (12-5, 11-0) or Flint Powers Catholic (15-2, 7-1) for its district title.
Neither Almont coach Steve Edwards, nor Goodrich coach Jason Gray is willing to let their teams bask in the glow of those league trophies. As most other coaches will echo, both feel that at this time of the year, league records, while certainly celebrated, go right out the door with the baby’s bath water.
Both teams have seen its players reach career and possibly state marks this season. Goodrich’s Kortni Elsworth eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark on Jan. 15, while Almont’s Lindsey Yaklin set her mark in last Friday’s game against conference foe Armada. Yaklin is also now in the top 15 in 3-pointers and easily could reach the top 10 in the state by the end of district play.
Neither coach let the players know precisely where they stood as far as reaching the marks, fearing the added pressure would be too distracting and too big of a burden to saddle them with. Instead, they let them play on until they were within a few baskets of the marks, even calculating when to sit the pair down so they could break the marks at home. And, both got to enjoy doing just that in front of friends, family and the hometown fans, further adding to the celebration.
Elsworth had said that she knew she was close, but didn’t want to focus too much on reaching it. Yaklin, too, knew she had the potential to reach the mark, but also was focused on continuing to lead the team to an undefeated record that now stands at 18-0 overall, 12-0 BWAC.
Senior campaigns are already special to athletes, who may very well never play sports past the collegiate level. Elsworth, in fact, has put off deciding on where she will play basketball, instead preferring to “just enjoy my final year without all that added pressure.”
Meanwhile, Yaklin’s teammate Brandy Ullom has already inked with Madonna College, and awaits the decisions of Yaklin and Chanahl Putnam as they steer the Raiders toward a spectacular run at the district crown and beyond.
Basketball has been the favorite sport of all of these multi-sport athletes who have also made names for themselves in track and field and softball. Hoops is their first love, and that has been apparent as we watch their athletic prowess, agility and stoic ability to hit nothing but net. Play on ladies; job well done.
Slippery slope
Another high school title race heated up the Polar Palace Arena Complex last Saturday as the undefeated Swartz Creek Dragons perhaps thought they were a cinch for the league title after being chased by Lapeer West in the last month.
Reality bit them hard when the Panthers caught them by the tail, forcing them to move over on the top of the Metro podium, something they have not had to do all season long. The likely scenario shows co-champions when all is said and done, but as Creek found out, that slate can be erased at any point.

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