‘An amazing feeling’

By: Jason Carmel Davis, | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 14, 2017

ROSEVILLE — Andy Houghton has been at the helm of the Roseville High girls basketball team now for four years.

The team’s win total has increased in each of Houghton’s seasons, including this year, which has proven to be the strongest of Houghton’s tenure.

At press time, the Panthers were 11-5 overall and finished 9-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division to capture the division title. It’s the first division championship for the program since 2010.

 Roseville High senior forward Nija Collier, right, drives to the basket in a Feb. 6 win against Madison Heights Madison. The Panthers went 9-1 in Macomb Area Conference Silver Division play to claim their first division title since 2010.

Roseville High senior forward Nija Collier, right, drives to the basket in a Feb. 6 win against Madison Heights Madison. The Panthers went 9-1 in Macomb Area Conference Silver Division play to claim their first division title since 2010.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The team clinched the MAC Silver title with a 54-45 win Feb. 2 at Madison Heights Madison.

“We didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on the girls prior to that game, so we didn’t mention (a division title) other than saying that we could make it a special night,” Houghton said. “The girls have worked so hard, and they have stayed focused on accomplishing this goal. I could not be more proud of them.”

Senior forward Nija Collier is one of two Roseville players, along with senior Chantae’ Parker, who have been with Houghton from the start.

Collier recognized the significance of the division championship, noting that it had been “a long time” since the program had raised a banner.

“A lot of people underestimated us. We just keep getting better,” said Collier, who missed some games early because of injury. “Our goal this year was to be the MAC Silver champ, and we accomplished that. Another goal was to win more than 10 games, and we accomplished that too. This is only the beginning.”

Houghton credited every player on his team in helping to capture a division title. The team has relied on defense, rebounding and point-guard play all season long. Collier and sophomore Debraya Edwards each average 11 rebounds per game, while Parker pulls down seven boards a game.

The Panthers allow 35.6 points per contest — good for eighth in the 35-team MAC. That number is the lowest of Houghton’s tenure and 9.4 points better than last season.

“The girls have worked hard on improving their defense all season long. We make it a priority to practice defense every day,” said Houghton, who touted the defensive efforts of senior Rayven Newberry, sophomore Che’Paris Mobley and Edwards. “All three of them are athletic and take great pride when it comes to defending the other team’s best players. Their preparation for each game is second to none.”

Houghton also spoke glowingly of Collier and Parker. He said he’s pleased to have seen the seniors grow as basketball players and people, as each has received scholarship offers to continue their educations and playing careers.

Houghton said the success is not only a positive for Collier and Parker, but for other players who come through the program.

“The hard work does pay off,” Houghton said. “There will be bad practices and bad games, but our theme at Roseville for the last four years has always been to rise above.

“(Collier and Parker) have experienced the ups and downs of a basketball season, and they’ve always remained focused and positive. In the end, that pays off.”

The Panthers’ next game is against Warren Lincoln at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at home.