By Joseph Hayes
MACOMB – No one wanted to see it end.
The Port Huron High School girls basketball team brought an entire community together during the 2019-2020 season.
And in the process, they enjoyed a record breaking season, which included a Macomb Area Conference Tournament championship, an unbeaten regular season and numerous other memories along the way.
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Unfortunately all of that came to an end on Friday night, when the Big Reds succumbed to a woeful shooting performance and an upstart Macomb Dakota girls basketball team.
The end result would be a 46-29 loss in the Division 1 district finals at L’Anse Creuse North to Dakota.
“It has been a phenomenal season,” Port Huron High coach Becky Gilbert said. “They really didn’t do anything different than the last time we played them. We just couldn’t make a shot and they were hitting their shots.
“There were a couple times they had a lot of momentum and we couldn’t stop the momentum. They are a good team with good players.”
The Big Reds (21-1) only loss of the season would hurt deeply for all involved, but was yet another reminder of all the team accomplished during the season.
Port Huron got off to a slow start offensively for the second straight district game. However, unlike Wednesday’s victory against L’Anse Creuse North, the Big Reds wouldn’t be able to overcome Friday’s deficit.
They trailed 5-2 early and the lead quickly doubled to 12-6, forcing a Port Huron time-out with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Dakota would lead 12-7 at the end of the first quarter and continued to hold the momentum behind Port Huron’s slow offensive start.
In the second quarter, the lead continued to grow as Macomb Dakota started with a 9-2 run.
The Cougars would outscore Port Huron, 14-3, in the quarter, to take a 26-10 advantage into halftime.
Facing a double digit lead, Port Huron needed a run of its own in the third quarter. But they would go scoreless the first four minutes of the period.
Meanwhile, Dakota would take control for good, with yet another key run, triggered by its defense and its hot shooting.
By the time Port Huron’s Emma Trombly (12 points) scored with under three and a half minutes remaining in the quarter, Dakota led 38-12, after a 12-0 run to start the second half.
Port Huron would trail 40-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but refused to quit, showing the patented fight that made them such a great team throughout the season.
Even in defeat, Port Huron would enjoy a season for the record books, setting numerous records along the way.
The Big Reds will return the bulk of its team, although they will graduate a pair of key seniors in the playing rotation.
Not lost on the team or its staff was also the contributions of the community along the way; as it showed up big for the district round and also served as a key source of encouragement throughout the season.
“It’s just incredible how supportive the community was and it’s really nice to look up in the stands and see all of the people here for us on our side,” coach Gilbert said. “They really rallied behind us. They drove all of the way down to L’Anse Creuse North and supported us and I just think it means a lot to our team and our program.
“I feel like with the number of girls we have returning, hopefully we will have that hunger back. I feel like this group of girls is really competitive. Our seniors were awesome for us. They really bought into the program all four years and showed the level of commitment it takes and now the juniors and sophomores are seeing the benefit of buying in and working on their game all of the time. Hopefully they come back next season even stronger.”