Season opener slated for next week for girls basketball team
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity girls basketball squad – a group that started its official practice sessions for the 2019-2020 on Monday, November 11 – will have a mix of experienced varsity players and newcomers with five seniors, six juniors, and two sophomores.
“We have seven returning players,” Coach Dan Brandt said. “The six girls we are bringing up should bring a lot of depth and athleticism to our crew.”
During the summer, the program participated in camps at Ferris State University and Millington. Coach Brandt said the Vikings “played some great competition” at the camps, including several Class A schools, and the time spent together over the summer provided valuable experience and camaraderie.
“The girls really bonded during those times. They grew a lot as a team,” Coach Brandt said.
Coach Brandt said one benefit of the camps was an increase in “confidence.”
“The girls didn’t quit. These girls never backed down and that was something I enjoyed seeing,” Coach Brandt said.
Skill wise, he said the team’s post players improved on ball handling during the summer work, and the “guards are seeing the court better.”
On Friday, November 15, prior to the team’s morning practice session, Coach Brandt said the first week had been productive so far.
“It’s going well. We’ve seen a lot of leadership from the older girls. They’re leading by example,” Coach Brandt said.
He’s expecting a lot out of his tri-captains – seniors Jordyn Schwartz, Emma Mertes, and Isabel Duba – this season, especially with regard to leadership.
“I want to see the continued growth of our leaders. I think we’re going to go where they take us. They’re coming in hungry. They want to walk away with something special this year,” Coach Brandt said.
The squad worked on a variety of skills during its initial practice sessions this year while the program works to establish a mindset of being aggressive at both ends of the floor.
“Moving the ball, attacking the rim and not settling for jump shots. Being more physical on the blocks,” Coach Brandt said. “Keys for us this year will be being able to get up and down the court on offense, being able to get pressure on defense.”
Coach Brandt said the girls have individual goals for the year, and the aim of the program as a whole is to be competitive in the Lake Michigan Conference while pushing for an above .500 season.
“Winning season, it’s been a long time, I think ‘96 or ‘97,” Coach Brandt said. “Our main focus is getting that winning season and competing in the LMC.”
Coach Brandt expects a number of solid tests during the Lake Michigan Conference portion of the team’s schedule again this year.
“It’s great competition. The teams are always tough. This year with what we have I think we’ll be able to compete better than the last few years,” Coach Brandt said.
The Vikings will start their 2019-2020 season with a game at Roscommon on Thursday, December 5. The two JV teams will play at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity contest will follow.
Grayling’s varsity and junior varsity girls basketball teams will host Houghton Lake at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 9. The Vikings will host Harbor Springs – their first scheduled Lake Michigan Conference opponent of the 2019-2020 campaign – at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17.
“Everyone’s excited for the season to start, more so than I’ve seen. They really want to get rolling. They’re looking forward to that opening day with Roscommon,” Coach Brandt said.