The KLAA girls basketball championship tournament begins tonight, with Hartland and Brighton taking on Dearborn and Wayne, respectively.
But Hartland coach Don Palmer has goals beyond winning his second KLAA title.
“Obviously, I’d like to win,” he said. “But the more competition you have this time of year before you start the one-and-done, the better.”
Hartland (17-1) takes on Dearborn (16-2) at Hartland High School in a game that will be broadcast on The Livingston Post. Click here for a link.
“Dearborn, I know nothing about them,” Palmer said on Friday night, after the Eagles clinched the KLAA West title. “I’ll know what I can know after one scouting trip.”
The book on Hartland has been the same as it has been for three seasons: Whitney Sollom forces bad shots inside due to her height (6-feet-4) and athleticism, while her teammates can patrol the perimeter.
“We can take chances on defense because of Whitney’s presence,” Palmer said. “Our kids have no trouble getting her the ball on offense. She’s not playing her natural position. She’ll be a wing in college, but we need her inside. Our defense can really get after people and realize that if they make a mistake, or if they get beat, she’ll be there.”
Sollom is averaging a double-double this season and was named Friday as one of three finalists for the Miss Basketball Award, which will be announced on March 13.
“What it means is that, 1) she’s a good basketball player, and 2) she’s on a good team,” Palmer said. “It’s a great individual honor for Whitney, but it’s kind of a team award, too. We would not be where we are without Whitney, and she wouldn’t be where she is without her teammates.”
The Eagles have gotten to the Class A/Division 1 quarterfinals in each of the last two years with Sollom in the middle, and while the Eagles aren’t looking that far ahead just yet, Palmer looks forward to the challenge this week.
“We’re going to play a good Dearborn team,” he said. “The next game will be against a good Wayne team or a good Brighton team. That’s what I want to get out of this.”