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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 5:45 a.m.

Willow Run coach comes back from heart attack, Lincoln girls make history and more prep basketball notes, standings and leaders

By Kyle Austin

When Cliff Russell started feeling sharp pain in his chest and shoulder late last month, he knew from experience what it was: a heart attack.

And he knew early on he had a goal for his recovery: to get back to the Willow Run sideline as soon as possible.

“I couldn’t wait to get back,” Russell said. “I love our team, I just have tremendous concern for our girls and for our team. I love basketball, I love to compete.


Cliff Russell

Russell, the first-year Flyers girls basketball coach, managed to get through a heart attack and recovery without missing a single practice or game, returning to the court two days after coming home from the hospital.

After experiencing symptoms on Dec. 22, Russell took an Plavix and went to the University of Michigan hospital. After having one heart attack already, he stayed calm, and walked in the door and informed hospital staff he was having a heart attack.

From there, he said, “it was like a scene from ER,” as doctors rushed him into surgery.

“It was pretty intense,” Russell said.

Russell had three stents put in his heart and spent parts of three days in the hospital. After returning home on Christmas, his team was scheduled for a practice the next day. He was ready to attend it, until the weather caused it to be called off (although Russell admits that “my wife canceled that practice as much as I did.”).

But the day after that he was back at practice, and has coached in all four of his team’s games since.

Now, he said, he feels better than he has in a long time. He’s lost weight, and has his wife, a nurse for more than 30 years, helping him look after his health.

Lincoln girls notch first win over Ypsilanti


Lincoln's Arie Cargor file

The Lincoln girls basketball team managed to make history twice Friday night.

The team earned its tenth win of the season, marking a program-high for wins in a season.

And that win came over Ypsilanti, marking what’s believed to be the first time Lincoln has ever beaten Ypsilanti.

By mid-January, the Railsplitters had already accomplished one of its goals.

“When I took over the program, that was one of the goals that I had set for the team, and our girls was to make school history and have a winning season, and win more than 10 basketball games,” first-year coach Mike Foley said.

Foley moved from the Lincoln boys team to the girls team during the offseason, taking over a squad that went 7-15 last year.

Foley attributes that turnaround to hard work put in over the summer to implement a new system.

“I think that a lot of these girls worked really hard this summer,” Foley said. “In the previous summer, I don’t know how many hours have been put in, but this summer we worked hard and put in a new system.”

The Railsplitters will face a pair of tough tests in an upcoming five-day span, facing Chelsea Friday and traveling to play first-place Dexter Tuesday.

Too early to celebrate

On Friday, Pioneer improved on its undefeated Southeastern Conference Red record with a 64-47 win over cross-town rival Huron to stay atop the league standings, a spot it previously occupied with the River Rats and Temperance Bedford

Forgive the Pioneers if they don't celebrate a league championship just yet. They play Bedford on Friday in a game that will break the tie, but coach Rex Stanczak said its too early for his team to even be thinking about conference championships.

"This is far from going to put us in position to win the league," Stanczak said of the win over Huron. "But (with) it, at least we keep pace. We just gotta move on to the next one next week."

Irony from the charity stripe

The Rudolf Steiner boys team struggled from the free-throw line during its 65-58 loss to Arbor Prep on Tuesday. Storm players shot just 50 percent (13-of-26) from the stripe during the game.

Coach Nick Sherwood blamed himself.

"Two games ago we decided to shoot 50 free throws in practice, normally we just shoot a few. The last two games we just haven’t shot well," Sherwood said. "We didn’t have any problems before we started practicing, now that we’re practicing them we’re having problems."

Sherwood has a solution in mind, though.

"I’m not practicing free throws anymore," he said.

Area Leaders

Boys Leaders

Jason Houle, Gabriel Richard 10 232 23.2
Andrew Khouri, Greenhills 5 99 19.8
C.J. Turnage, Milan 10 177 17.7
Mathias Donat, Washtenaw Christian 8 135 16.9
Jibreel Hussein, Pioneer 10 164 16.4
Reece Dils, Saline 10 141 15.7
Kamari Davis, Gabriel Richard 8 125 15.6
DaQuanta Brown, Willow Run 7 109 15.6
Latin Davis, Milan 9 129 14.3
Derek Seidl, Dexter 8 113 14.1

Girls Leaders

Jackie Oestreich, Greenhills 10 260 26.0
McKenna Erkfitz, Manchester 12 186 15.5
Desiree Cougill, Pioneer 9 135 15.0
Riley Singleton, Chelsea 11 154 14.0
Arie Cargor, Lincoln 12 166 13.8
Janae Sims, Skyline 9 119 13.2
Dominique Foley, Lincoln 11 144 13.1
Jennifer Fichera, Pioneer 11 143 13.0
Taylor Manders, Manchester 12 156 13.0
Grace Sauers, Chelsea 11 142 12.9


In the boys SEC standings, Temperance Bedford and Pioneer are tied for first-place in the Red division, heading into a Friday showdown at Bedford. Ypsilanti already has a two-game lead in the White standings, with none of the other five teams garnering more than one league win.

The girls side saw the Huron girls move into a first-place tie with Temperance Bedford, while Dexter remains the only unbeaten team in league play.

Four other area teams are unbeaten in their respective leagues. The Manchester girls are 7-0 and atop the Cascades Conference, while the Milan boys are 4-0 in the Huron League. The Greenhills boys are 5-0 in the MIAC Blue, and both Rudolf Steiner teams are unbeaten in Mid-South play, the boys at 4-0 and the girls at 3-0.

Boys Standings

SEC RED Lg. Overall  SEC WHITE Lg. Overall
Bedford 3-0 7-0  Ypsilanti 3-0 7-2
Pioneer 3-0 8-2  Dexter 1-1 4-5
Huron 2-1 4-4  Tecumseh 1-2 5-5
Skyline 1-1 4-5  Lincoln 1-2 4-6
Saline 0-3 6-4  Adrian 1-2 3-6
Monroe 0-3 3-6  Chelsea 1-2 2-7

Girls Standings

SEC RED Lg. Overall  SEC WHITE Lg. Overall
Bedford 4-1 9-3  Dexter 5-0 11-1
Huron 4-1 6-4  Lincoln 4-1 10-2
Pioneer 2-3 7-4  Chelsea 4-1 7-4
Saline 2-3 6-6  Tecumseh 3-2 4-5
Monroe 1-4 4-6  Ypsilanti 1-4 5-4
Skyline 0-5 5-7  Adrian 0-5 5-8

Game of the Week

It’s been slow going in the first few days of voting, but Saline’s boys game against Pioneer has taken an early lead showdown between the top two girls teams in the SEC White, Dexter and Lincoln. Voting continues until noon Saturday.



Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

Its good to see Cliff Russell back and healthy!