Class B final: Country Day wins 11th on Orlando's watch
East Lansing — Freshman guard Kaela Webb scored 20, making six free throws down the stretch to help Detroit Country Day defeat Haslett 49-41 Saturday night at the Breslin Center to win the Class B state championship.
It was the 11th state title in Frank Orlando's 34-year coaching career at Country Day and his first since winning consecutive titles in 2008 and '09. He has lifted the championship trophy now in four different decades, but this one was unexpected with a freshman and two sophomores in the starting lineup.
Yes, Country Day could be making a return trip to Breslin in the near future as well.
"Being the old-school guy I am, I kind of read something to them, to dream the impossible dream, to be better than you our, that's our quest," said Orlando, who turned 72 earlier this month. Tears flowed down his face as he spoke. "I just felt it was a dream, this whole scenario, a young team, a team of mixed and matched kids and they all pulled together.
"I guess you could say it don't get no better than this. It's not a loaded team, just a mixed team of kids that play with their hearts. I give credit to Haslett. They did a heck of a job and played hard. We just outlasted them in a few little things. The free throws that Kaela made, Wow!"
Yes, Webb made six free throws in the final 1:30 after Haslett pulled within two.
And, Webb was lucky to be on the court after injuring her right ankle in the districts two weeks ago.
"It's unreal," said Webb of winning the state title and then adding about her ankle, "It still hurts.
Webb felt proud for knocking down the free throws.
"We worked so hard. I just knew I had to stick them," she said. "My girls were telling me to keep my wrist straight and I had it. We worked so hard to get this (championship). Coach O deserves it. He's been working hard and we've been working hard together as a team to get this."
Sophomore standout Destiny Pitts had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Country Day (22-4) to help the Yellowjackets to a 37-30 rebounding advantage, 16-8 at the offensive end.
Country Day led 23-17 at halftime and 32-27 heading into the fourth quarter. The Yellowjackets shot just 29.2 percent against Haslett, which showed a 1-3-1 zone at times.
Haslett (22-6) was limited to 32.4 percent shooting and turned the ball more than 17 times.
"It's unbelievable, hasn't sunk in yet," said Pitts, giving praise to Webb and 6-foot-3 sophomore center Tylar Bennett, who played with four fouls in the final quarter.
Bennett made two free throws, then beat her defender down the court for a layup for a 41-37 lead with just over two minutes left. She also altered shots during the final minutes.
"It was a really gutsy performance for Kaela," Pitts said. "Her ankle was really swollen, hurt it in the districts. She made some big free throws and did a great job with the ball.
"I didn't want Tylar to pick up her fifth foul. I knew her and the girl (Haslett defender) were really battling in there and I told her, 'We need you, don't pick up that fifth foul.'"
Bennett knew that a state title was on the line.
"I knew I had to stay out there for my team because I know I'm the one who keeps the energy going in the back row," Bennett said.
Bennett also had high praise for Webb, saying, "People underestimated her and us as a team as a whole with her being so young, but I mean she came out here and played her hardest and she did everything she could do with a hurt ankle. I'm proud that she's my teammate."
Seniors Makenna Ott and Kenzie DeCook each scored 17 for Haslett with Ott also grabbing 10 rebounds.