Farmington Hills, Walled LakeMarch 5, 2013
District title celebration is first for Harrison basketball — ever
By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer
FARMINGTON HILLS — With a 10-point lead all but gone and a history-making victory that seemed so certain minutes ago now suddenly hanging in the balance, Marissa Cotton stepped to the free-throw line with the weight of a program resting squarely on her shoulders.
And with that, she took a deep breath and iced this Class A district final — five times over.
“I just had to visualize making every shot,” the Harrison senior guard said with a smile. “I had to focus on my form and see the ball go through.”
Walled Lake Western sent Cotton to the line six times in the final 45 seconds of the March 1 final at North Farmington.
Single handedly, she turned a 42-39 lead into a 47-42 victory — the first district crown in basketball history at Harrison.
“I told the girls before the game, anytime you go for a championship, that last (win) is the hardest one to get,” coach Tim Micklash said. “I give our girls a lot of credit.”
The Hawks’ season continued March 5 at Novi High against Hartland High in a regional semifinal played after press time.
The regional final is set for 7 p.m. March 7.
But, beaming with pride about his team, it’s title and the history made, Micklash said there was nothing that could happen in the regional round that would take away from this district memory.
“As a school that’s been around for 40 years, and you figure 40 years of boys and girls basketball teams, to be the first (to win a district) is something I hope these girls can reflect on and be proud of,” he said. “They have a legacy now that will go on forever.”
“It’s kind of hard to believe there hasn’t been one before,” Cotton said while holding the trophy. “There’s been some real good teams here that just fell a little short. … It’s just awesome right now. I’m ecstatic.”
After a first quarter filled with nerves saw Western hold a 5-4 lead, Harrison mounted a 19-10 run in the second and led 23-15 by halftime. The Hawks pushed the advantage to 35-25 entering the fourth, but Western wasn’t about to go quietly.
The Warriors’ offense caught fire, pulling within three with 45 seconds remaining, and with 17 seconds remaining, they trailed just 44-42.
“You want the ball in her hands,” Micklash said of Cotton and her free throws. “She’s the leader on our team for a reason.”
The win bumped Harrison to 22-1 on the season.
The Hawks beat Walled Lake Northern 70-33 in the semifinal and North Farmington 48-45 in the opener.
Mercy marches on
Farmington Hills Mercy also had a successful district round, grabbing the program’s third crown in the past five years with a 67-46 win against Detroit Mumford March 1 at home.
“I thought we played well the whole district,” coach Gary Morris said. His girls beat Detroit Renaissance 68-49 in the semifinals and Detroit Henry Ford 55-19 in the opener. “We got contributions from a lot of players, and that was the key in the district final. We were solid on both ends of the floor.”
Mercy (18-5) took on Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup in a March 5 regional semifinal, played after press time.
“Wining a district is always nice, something you can’t take for granted,” Morris added. “Every team is different, and to let them experience this is something they should all be proud of.”