It's a very tough district, and Grosse Pointe North head coach Matt Lockhart is well aware of this fact.
With squads such as Detroit Finney and East Detroit High in the mix—not to mention , Lake Shore and Lakeview High—surviving the opening round of the boys state basketball tournament is a tall order.
That said, North's, 48-36 victory over the Lakeview squad Monday night at Grosse Pointe South was a very good sign for Norsemen supporters. Why? Because the squad did it with a stellar defensive effort, particularly from the start of the second quarter.
"Whenever you can hold a team to 36 points you've done a pretty good job on defense," Lockhart said. "We need that too, because we just don't have the team that's going to score a lot of points. We need to play great defense."
After an admittedly sluggish start to the game, North settled in, kicking off the second quarter with a 7-2 run and jumping out to a 28-17 lead at the break.
"I think the first five minutes, especially, were not very good," Lockhart said. "I think it was more of a mental thing for us, too. I just didn't think we came out playing very aggressively. After that, though, we started attacking more on defense and I think that created some problems for them."
The amped-up defensive effort led to several Lakeview turnovers and, as a result, some easy baskets for the Norsemen.
The victory comes on the heels of a regular season that saw North finish at the bottom of the Macomb Area White at 2-10 and 5-15 overall. That said, none of that matters at this point in the season.
"We played the schedule we played this season because we knew we had to play some tough teams in the playoffs," Lockhart said. Although North seems to be rounding into shape at a very opportune time of the year, the play of the team's three seniors might be the difference.
"I think our seniors have stepped up lately," the coach said. "George Greer has played really well and has really stepped up for us. I think these seniors have taken on a bigger role. When they're playing better that makes it easier. It does."
Greer says his and seniors Christopher Collins and Allensandro Dutta's efforts are not by accident. "The three of us," Greer said, "we got together and talked about it. We said we had to pick it up. We had to do that if we wanted to be successful."
Greer paced the Norsemen with 10 points Monday night. Next up for North is Detroit Finney at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. "We're going to have to play better, and be better in transition, and make our layups and free throws," Lockhart said. "We missed, I think, nine layups tonight and five free throws. We can't do that."
South ousts Lake Shore, 62-54.
In a game where the Blue Devils were not at their best, the squad found a way to win, and to survive to play another day in the one-and-done state tournament.
"I think there were a lot of things we could've done better," South senior Alex Bedan said. "But we did enough to win, and I guess that's good. But, we need to work on a lot of things."
South coach, Dave Grauzer, sees similar things about his team in regards tohow they played in the district opener Monday night.
"I didn't think our defense was too bad," Grauzer said. "It's just our lack of execution on offense."
South did look out of sorts at times, and the rebounding effort wasn't up to par either.
That said, the Blue Devils found a way to win.
"The good thing is that we got this one under our belt," Grauzer said. "Now we got East Detroit coming in - they dumped us twice this year. I mean, if they watched us tonight they're probably thinking they're going to have an easy game on Wednesday. But, hopefully this was just first-game jitters for us, and we'll get it out of the way."
East Detroit is next up for the Blue Devils Wednesday night at home. Tip off for the contest is slated for 7 p.m.