Last Thursday marked a disappointing start to the season for three-time defending Class D state champion Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, while the Zach Hilbers era at West Bloomfield began with a huge victory.
West Bloomfield used a 26-4 run in the first quarter to stun Our Lady at home, 52-44, on Thursday, Nov. 29 in the season opener for both teams.
It was a matchup of two teams that both share the nickname of the Lakers, with Our Lady (0-1) as defending Class D state champions and West Bloomfield (1-0) coming off winning a Class A district title last season.
But, West Bloomfield was making a transition to a new head coach in Hilbers after Steve Larkin departed following four seasons.
West Bloomfield also is getting used to life without standout point guard Sydni Davis, who took her talents to Southfield-Lathrup for her senior season.
It was West Bloomfield that looked like a state champion against Our Lady last Thursday.
“It was really a great starting point as a team and for me as a coach,” Hilbers said after his first win. “We did some things really well and also, because of the quality of our opponent, were able to bring to light some things that we have to continue to work on to keep improving.”
Our Lady Head Coach Steve Robak said the game started very sloppy and continued that way for his team the entire night.
“We made many unforced turnovers, and it gave West Bloomfield many easy baskets and opportunities in transition throughout the night,” Robak said. “Each time we’d surge, we would turn the ball over and allow another easy basket for them.”
West Bloomfield led 26-4 at the end of the first quarter before taking a 38-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the third quarter, Our Lady tried to mount a comeback as it went on a 14-8 run, which included 10 points from senior Lexie Robak, and cut West Bloomfield’s lead to 46-31 at the end of the third quarter.
Our Lady continued to fight back in the fourth quarter, eventually cutting the deficit to six points with about two minutes left.
But, West Bloomfield’s defense was strong down the stretch and able to put the game out of Our Lady’s reach.
Dazia Dinkins led West Bloomfield with 14 points and 7 assists, while Kheri Motley and Ashley Zeigler each scored 11 points.
“I was really happy that our girls were able to see the results of their hard work, but we also understand we have a ways to go to get to where we really want to be,” Hilbers said.
Lexie Robak led Our Lady with 28 points, including 5 three-pointers, while also grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists.
Courtney Wightman also had 6 points and 4 rebounds, while Anna Robb had 5 points and 7 rebounds and Jessica Parry had 3 points and 7 rebounds.
“It’s tough to dig out of a 22-point hole, but the girls played hard the rest of the game and made a good effort to get back in the game,” Coach Robak said.
Our Lady was also without its senior standout Ava Doetsch, who was playing in a travel soccer tournament out of the state.
Still, Coach Robak was not one for excuses.
“We’re a much better team than the one that showed up Thursday, but now we’re going to have to show up to practice with a great focus, work hard, prepare like it’s a game and good things will start to happen,” he said. “I think this one opened their eyes.”
Our Lady will next play in its home opener tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 6 against Plymouth Christian before hosting Livonia Ladywood on Monday, Dec. 10.
Meanwhile, West Bloomfield played at Redford Union yesterday, Tuesday, Dec. 4 after press time and will next host its former star, Sydni Davis, and the rest of the Southfield-Lathrup Chargers on Tuesday, Dec. 11.