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Published January 29, 2014

Lloyd confident his Ferndale team can repeat magic of last winter

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Ferndale’s Cydney Ellis moves with the ball during a game earlier this season. The Eagles were 6-2 at press time.

FERNDALE — He was a spectator, in every sense of the word. Invited to attend, but a simple request of silence, Eric Lloyd sat and listened. His Ferndale High girls basketball team sat with him, but this was their time, their meeting and their chance to speak to one another. And he loved every second of it. “It showed the leadership they have. It showed how they were putting everything on themselves,” Lloyd said of the players meeting held Jan. 23 after practice. “They just talked about coming together more, about playing more as a unit. They know if they want to be as good as they can be, that’s what they have to do.” There was little panic in Lloyd’s tone as he spoke, mainly because his girls were 6-2 at press time and 4-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division. But that record, while on a similar pace for last year’s 21-4 finish, has come much differently. Teams the Eagles blew out last year are playing much closer games. As Lloyd explained, many of those six wins were simply because Ferndale was the better squad. “And that’s not how it always goes in the playoffs,” he added. “I think that’s why they wanted to meet together. They wanted to really focus on playing better, so we don’t just win the games were supposed to win.” The Eagles reached the regional final last year, before falling to Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day. Then, all but five players graduated. “So there’s been some transition — an adjustment period we expected,” Lloyd said. “I think we’re at the point now where the adjustment is over, and we can start playing to our full potential.” All five returning players are in the starting lineup, and Micaela Ellis remains one of the team’s most significant leaders. Offensively, she is their go-to scorer, putting up 52 points in the two games leading up to press time. Fellow seniors Amber Williams and Taryn Stephens have also supplied a scoring touch, but it’s the defense, Lloyd said, that will carry his team as far as it can go. “That’s what wins you games in the playoffs,” he added. “This is a group that can do a lot of the same things last year’s team did. We have to get better defensively, and we have to work together more as a group, which is what they talked about. And again, as a coach, you love to see that leadership and that drive.”

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