From March Madness to the NBA, big-time basketball has heroes everyone knows.

But then there’s small-time basketball, which almost nobody hears about, although its heroes make you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to swell with wonder at the sheer improbability of seeing youngsters who refuse to lose.

Forget for a moment the stirring scenes of 6- and 7-foot  giants dribbling across TV screens to stardom. Consider five girls, none very tall, at Detroit’s oldest and one of its smallest schools, in historic Corktown near old Tiger Stadium: five girls in fifth and sixth grades. Just five, so they had no substitutes. That meant no one could get sick or hurt, ever, or they’d be blown out for sure.