With a new coach, the Battle Creek Central girls’ basketball program is hoping to build on the progress it made last year and take the next step to become a winning team.
The Bearcats had one of its better season in years last season, but at 6-14, that was still under .500. Battle Creek Central will now be led by Dic Doumanian as the Bearcats try to climb closer to that .500 mark and beyond.
Former Bearcat coach Brian Driscoll stepped down after the season and BCC hired Doumanian after he coached one season at St. Philip.
“I’m new and maybe being new can be a benefit, I don’t know. Not that I am going to do a better job than Coach Driscoll, because he did a good job with growing this program, but I hope a new voice can help some,” Doumanian said. “Hopefully this group can buy into what we want to do moving forward.”
Doumanian brings a lot of experience to the Bearcat program. Doumanian coached collegiatelly at Kellogg Community College and at Defiance College, while also enjoying stints at the high school level.
Being a new coach at a program brings some challenges, but Doumanian and his team are hoping to work through the learning curve together.
“This team is new for me, the players are new, I’m new to the players,” Doumanian said. “So we are learning what this team can do and what we need to do to get better.”
The Bearcats will start its new era with some old faces as BCC returns five players with game experience.
BCC will depend on senior returners Shaquana Esters, Sara Bagent and Kaylee Ryan. Some underclassmen with starting experience include Ka-Leah Ryan and Madisonn Jackson.
Kaylee Ryan and Ka-Leah Ryan were both All-City honorable mention selections last season.
“The five girls coming back from last year are going to be a group we will count on early to be leaders and to set the tone on and off the court,” Doumanian said. “Both of the Ryans are very good players, and Madisonn Jackson has shown offensive ability so that’s where the majority of our points will come early in the season. But overall, when we all come together, we want to be a team that is going to score by committee.”
BCC will have a need to find points as it will be without Kayla Freeman, who graduated after averaging a double-double last season and had over 750 points in her career.
The Bearcats will look for some impact players off the bench to make up for those points with Die’mon Carson, Drashell Banks and freshman Tamera Gills.
“I think we have a talented bunch. I think we will be very deep. We don’t have just one go-to player, so I think our depth will be hard to deal with for other teams,” Doumanian said. “We want to play real uptempo, push the ball any chance we can get get, try to play good full-court man-to-man defense and press and trap out of that.
“We aren’t very big, so we are hoping our athleticism and quickness will carry the day for us.”
BCC will look to climb up the standings in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division, which includes city rivals Lakeview and Harper Creek — which won the league last year — as well as Marshall. It will be the final year for the SMAC East in its current configuration as Harper Creek, Marshall and Coldwater will be leaving to join the Interstate Eight Conference. Sturgis will also leave the conference after this year.