By N3 Sports Team
It’s Hoops time again, the beginning of a lengthy season that will stretch through the winter months into what we hope will be the cusp of an early spring come tournament time.
With the Girls kicking things off next week the staff of the much acclaimed N3 Sports and Custodial Services Department gathered a little information on the local teams for our friendly readers.
Next week we’ll follow up with the skinny on the Boys squads.
The Packers will be a fun team to watch with Bre Harris and Anna Patenge capping off their 4 year Varsity careers, sophomore Natalie Jamieson playing her second season with the A squad. and returning starter Riley Sweet heading up a supporting cast that includes freshman Calla Miller and sophomore Chloe Shriver. Senior Erin Belleman and juniors Torey Reichert-Slater and Taylor Crowley return to the team and are joined by newcomers Katie Nicholas and Hannah Hamilton.
Then midway through the season the team will add Brianna and Sydney Noordyke who previously played in the Home School League. Transfer rules will keep them out for the first ten games but the senior sisters should add to what looks to be a versatile offensive arsenal.
Harris has been a sparkplug for the team since she burst on the scene as a freshman grabbing attention with her fearless style of play that as led to three years of bumps and bruises along the way. Frequently targeted by opposing defenses she still drops more than 15 points a game while tossing in some defensive wizardry including a school record 15 steals in a game last year.
Patenge is a force in the paint where her defensive skills helped keep opponents under 40 points a game last season. She is a workhorse on the glass leading the Pack in boards each of the past 2 seasons.
Jamieson was a much different player at the end of the season than when she arrived on the varsity scene gaining confidence along the way. She seems to possess quick hands along with uncanny instincts for rebounding.
This is a team that looks to be strong on defense once again while expanding their offensive arsenal. They are, however, a bit banged up and Harris will likely miss the opener. Others are nursing various injuries and may miss games or be limited in playing time. Not the kind of start a coach wants with a long road ahead for his team but the addition of the Noordykes mid season will be most welcome.
“We have a great combination of experience and youth going into this season,” said Coach John Krim in his 5th season guiding the Packers. “There is experience at all 5 starting positions with the key spots of point guard and center filled by 4 year varsity players. 4 starters who contributed to the majority of the scoring for us last season return plus we feel we have quality players coming off the bench.”
“We are very excited about the upcoming season and couldn’t be happier with the caliber of the young ladies we have on this year’s team.They are a very hard working group who take a lot of pride in the way they play defense and practice unselfish basketball . If we stay injury free, and that's a big if right now, we believe we have a chance to be very competitive this season and hope to make it difficult on the league favorites.
The Packers open at home Tuesday facing the Red Devils of Holton in a game beginning at 7 pm.
The Lions lost 5 seniors to graduation and return just 4 players from last years team. That quartet of seniors will need to provide leadership to a group new to the varsity hardboards.
Madi Bush is the lone starter from last season though the other seniors Daisy Hagen, Alexis Brocker and Dana Duchemin each logged significant minutes and should be major contributors on both ends of the court.
While not short on talent the young Lions are a bit short on experience.
And height as well
“We're going to be younger and a little bit inexperienced this year,” said Coach Nate Thomasma. “We are also pretty small again this year so we are really going to have to work hard on the glass.”
A half dozen newcomers to the varsity scene will be on a quick learning curve in what looks to be a rugged Gold Division.
“Our conference is going to be pretty tough with all the teams bringing back a lot of experience so we are going to have our hands full every night.”
Sophomore Sophia Frisbie and Freshmen Lillian Ruehmeier and Jaylee Long join juniors Sarah Behnke, Mya Berwald, and Daniella Duchemin as additions to the new look Lion squad.
“Our 6 newcomers are working hard and learning everyday,” added the coach.“ I am happy with the effort and the attitudes of the girls. They are meshing real well and putting in some good work so I'm excited to see what the season will bring.
"It’s a good group to be around.”
The Lions begin the season by travelling to Whitehall to take on the Vikings Tuesday. Gametime 7pm.
The Vikings lost two of the area’s premier scorers when Ashley Bowen and Jenna Degeer cap and gowned it last spring. Defensive stopper Julia Hauenstein joined them in the ceremony leaving the defending District champs with gaps to fill.
Fortunately the team returns 4 seniors in their third varsity year, Tricia Slavens, Emma Overbee, Taylor Reed, and Dayoni Mahlich. Each played major roles in taking home that district hardware.
Adding to the depth are seniors Julia Bice and Cierra Rose and juniors Jessica Thompson and Grace Miller who enter their second varsity season
Newcomers to the team include senior Errin Kamp and Mickalia Sprik, juniors Emma Sickelsteel and Summer Longstreet and freshman Alicia Bowen.
Yes, that’s right, Bowen.
“Our strength will be in our depth and athleticism” said Coach Chris Overbeek.”We’ll use this to push an up-tempo pace.
“The conference will be very balanced. While I would list Central Montcalm as the favorite, I believe there are as many as 6 teams that could win the title.”
The Vikings sail into a new season Thursday November 30 when the Rd Devils of Holton continue their cross conference tour. Gametime 7pm
A rugged beginning saw Grant staring at a 1-9 mark as the basketball season reached the midway point last year.
Then it started to click on the court for the Tigers as they ran off wins in 9 of the next 12 before falling in the district finals.
“We have 4 players coming back who played a significant role for us last year,”said Coach Paige Paulsen.
Juniors Kylie Paton, Jill Arends,and Cecelia Male along with sophomore Nicole Whan make up that quartet of returnees who will lead the way for the Tigers this season.
“The Gold will be a tough conference this year, added Coach Paulsen. “ Central Montcalm, Big Rapids and Tri County have all have had a lot of success the last couple years while Fremont and Reed City may also challenge for the top spot. Every night in conference will be a dog fight.
“We are looking to be fundamentally sound on defense and limit our turnovers on offense. We have a look of people that can play many positions, so finding our identity we be key to having success.”
The Tigers take a trip to the Cloud Tuesday for a 7pm game
The Indians return 5 players from last years team led by junior Hannah Brown and senior Elexis Plotts
“With new additions combined with experienced leadership, we are hoping to create some noise in the conference’” said Coach Kurt Brown
The Indian roster includes seniors Breanna Sutherland and Arianna Kakoczki along with juniors Hallie Schulz, Kayla Pasch and Haley Foster, sophomores Olivia Bowman and Layna Yeiter and freshman Alexis Strait.
White Cloud will host the Tigers of Grant Tuesday with tip-off scheduled for 7pm.