Many of those who filed into St. Ursula's gymnasium Wednesday night did so to witness a state championship team.
And they did, as a ceremony was put on to recognize the Arrows' volleyball team for their accomplishment this past fall.
But others showed up to see a girls basketball team with state championship aspirations play.
But lately fourth-ranked Start has not played that way, a trend that continued in Wednesday night's 64-47 City League win over St. Ursula.
The differential doesn't do justice to how well the Arrows (7-6, 5-3 CL) played at times, even cutting the lead to seven with five minutes to go. Some of the Spartans' issues Wednesday night could be traced to fatigue, as just 24 hours earlier they suffered their second loss of the year on the road at Detroit Country Day.
But Start coach Bob Brown said his team's funk began "three or four games ago."
"We just have to get it together," Brown said. "We're not playing well right now. I don't know what it is. I wish I could put my finger on it. We know what's looming on the horizon for sure."
When the tournament begins, Brown intends to rely more heavily on his 6-foot-2 center Azia Bishop. He seemed to employ that plan late in the game when Bishop took control, scoring eight of her team's final 10 points to finish with a game-high 20. Guard Ariel Gaston added 13 points for the Spartans (11-2, 7-0).
Slug: SPT SUASTART26p 10 The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth Caption: Start's Azia Bishop (50) goes to the net against St. Ursula's Isabelle Lishewski (40) Wednesday, 01/26/11, in Toledo, Ohio.
"I think everybody goes in funks here or there, I guess," Brown said. "We don't want to be playing our best basketball yet, but eventually here in the next few weeks, we do for sure."
After being down 36-20 at halftime, SUA came out strong, cutting the lead to 10 by the end of the third quarter. A Meredith Taylor 3-pointer with 5:45 to go in the game trimmed the lead to 48-41. But then the upset alert was called off, as Gaston responded with consecutive layups to push Start's advantage back to double-digits.
"These kids, they're very competitive in every part of their lives," SUA coach Duffy Burns said. "We may not be the best athletes out there, but they compete every night and that's all we ask. We said, give us a chance with four minutes to go."
Maddy Strall was a big reason why they had that chance. Sometimes shooting jumpers and other times driving to the basket, Strall scored a team-best 18 points, exceeding her season average of 13.4 points per game. It was an all around good evening for the junior, who, along with guard Katie Felix, were honored with the rest of the Arrows volleyball players at halftime.
As for her basketball team, Strall said: "We've been working real hard in practice. Coach has been on us. We were ready for the pressure, let's put it that way. We knew it was going to come."
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 42, WAITE 35
Jamie Sobczak pumped in 18 points and Jalyn Lathan provided 10 to lead the Irish (9-2, 5-0, CL).
Marquia Fitch led Waite (3-9, 2-5) with 16 points.
NOTRE DAME 67, BOWSHER 24
Demy Whitaker scored 11 and Chelsea Morlock 10 for Notre Dame (13-2, 7-0).
Tina Frazier scored six for Bowsher (5-8, 3-4).
CLAY 62, WOODWARD 31
Kim Crawford led Clay (1-13, 1-7) to its first victory with 10 points.
Woodward (0-9, 0-7 CL) was led by Dateshia Wysinger with 11 points.
ROGERS 88, WHITMER 37
Charon Sweeney paced Rogers (13-3, 7-1) with 27 point, and the Lamar Smith became the school's first coach to register 13 wins in a season. Sasha Dailey had 22, Toriana Easley 19, and Kabbria Walker 15.
Keshyra McCarver led Whitmer (3-11, 1-6) with 15.