For a rivalry game, there was a lot of love in the air.

Such is often the case when teams meet for a greater cause, as Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South traded in its traditional, rabid gameday experience to celebrate the final event of a week-long charitable partnership between the two schools benefiting the “I Love Lucy Fund” that concluded with North’s 54-44 victory in a Macomb Area Conference Red Division game Thursday night.

Julia Ayrault had 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way for North (11-2, 7-2).

“She’s capable of taking over a game both rebounding-wise and scoring-wise,” North coach Gary Bennett said. “She’s given us a lot of big games.”

Ayrault’s performance seemed arbitrary when North opened the game with a 21-point lead, but as South (5-11, 1-9) closed the gap to four with just minutes remaining, she was an integral part of keeping them at bay. Maddie Kohler stole the ball from South and scored on a layup on the other end, followed by two free throws from Ayrault to extend North’s lead to eight.

“I just thought with the time on the clock, that bucket sealed it,” Bennett said.

North extended its lead to 18 in the third before the cavalry arrived.

“South put on some pressure and they turned us over,” Bennett said. “When they came back, they kind of squashed our energy.”

Using turnovers and sloppy play from North to its advantage, South chipped away at the early deficit behind Sydni Hall’s 13 points.

“Once we had a 21-point lead, I would say they played better than we did the rest of the game,” Bennett said. “I thought it was sloppy play on the offensive end, where we did a lot of standing instead of passing and cutting.”

Bennett will be the first to admit it wasn’t pretty, but he was pleased to see his team close out a rivalry game with its back against the wall.

“We did enough to win,” Bennett said, “but we didn’t play a great second half.”

More girls basketball

Auburn Hills Avondale 50, Berkley 32: Olivia Russel scored 17 and Keiori Lee 14 for Avondale (11-2, 8-1 OAA Blue). Berkley is 5-10, 5-4.

Detroit Collegiate Prep-Northwestern 50, Detroit Pershing 31: In a PSL playoff game, Ericka Smith, Nikiya Cordell and Sapphire Dawson each scored 14 for Northwestern (11-2).

Detroit Osborn 42, Detroit International Academy 31: In a PSL playoff game, Caprice Edwards had 20 points and 14 rebounds and Erin Davis had 16 points and five steals for Osborn (7-8). Lazariah Martin scored 15 for DIA (5-5).

Detroit Renaissance 69, Detroit Denby 10: In a PSL playoff game, Dalyn Henderson and Cathryn Ndukwe each scored 10 for Renaissance (10-6).

Macomb Dakota 53, Port Huron Northern 51: Cameron Grant had 18 points and 16 rebounds and Taylor Williams scored 18 for Dakota (12-3, 8-2 MAC Red). Sam Clink scored 15 for Northern (10-6, 4-5).

Riverview 63, Grosse Ile 54: Shannon McAlinden had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Sam Dorn scored 17 and Elizabeth Dalton added 10 for Riverview (8-7, 5-5 Huron). Madison Swick scored 17 for Grosse Ile (10-5).

More scores

Detroit Mumford 75, Detroit West Side Academy 13

Royal Oak Shrine 50, Allen Park Cabrini 30

Southfield Manoogian 51, Michigan Math and Science 45

Boys basketball

Allen Park Inter-City Baptist 59, Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy 32: Caleb Estell scored 13, Ben Estell 12, and Dennis Lobb and Cameron Hunter each added 10 for Baptist (6-6). Darren Howard scored 12 for Cesar Chavez (7-5).

Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 60, Clarkston Everest Academy 38: Luke Stricker had 23 points and five blocks and Bryce Berko had 18 points and eight rebounds for Parkway Christian (8-4). Trevor Meyers scored 11 and Simon Fenske 10 for Everest.

More scores

Detroit Old Redford 103, Detroit Universal Academy 61

Michigan Math and Science 58, Southfield Manoogian 15

West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy 50, Allen Park Cabrini 48

Boys hockey

Utica Eisenhower 3, Livonia Churchill 1: Matt Hayes had two goals and one assist, Michael Acorn had a goal and an assist and Chris Burkhardt had two assists for Eisenhower (13-3-1). Cameron Greener scored one goal that was assisted by Seth Kucharczyk and Josh Friend for Churchill (9-8-1).

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.