When the Lomira girls basketball team graduated eight seniors two years ago, a season where the Lions went 22-1 before losing in the sectional semifinal, head coach Jake Flood knew the next season would be a work in progress.
After all, the Lions didn’t have much varsity experience. But as the year went on, Flood said the team got better after a 2-5 start. The Lions ended up with a 11-13 (5-9 Flyway) record, and even won their first playoff game.
Now a big part of that group enters this season with more experience, something that will hopefully bring the Lions back to a winning 2013-14.
“Last year we were obviously inexperienced in a term of varsity experience,” Flood said. “I thought a lot of kids got valuable playing time and we got better as the season went on. I think we have our core group returning.”
Lomira returns four players that got a lot of playing time last season, including its leading scorer Michaela Luedtke. She averaged 9.2 points a game last season, helping her earn second-team all-Flyway Conference honors. She also led the team in 3-pointers made.
“Michaela has worked hard on her game and she’s shot the ball very well the last two years,” Flood said about the junior. She was primarily a spot-up shooter but this year she has worked on getting to the rim and worked on a pull-up jumper, which should help her score even more.”
Besides Luedtke, the Lions return seniors Paige Bartelt (4.4 ppg), Erin Gerriety (4.4 ppg) and Kiersten Zangl.
“Erin, Paige and Kiersten up to this point have done a great job of picking up that senior leadership role,” Flood said. “I expect them to play a lot of minutes for us. They all played a lot of major minutes last season.”
Not only do the Lions have a solid group of veteran players, but they also return Haley Cole — a freshman who started a majority of games last season.
“Haley had a terrific offseason,” Flood said of the Cole, who averaged 3.8 points a game last year. “She developed her shot and she developed her left hand even better. We’re hoping that she can have one of those breakout years for us.”
Flood takes pride on his team’s defense, something that has carried the Lions in recent years. Despite losing two of his best defenders last year in Cassie Roecker and Savannah Borges, he still thinks it’s the biggest strength of the team.
“I think defensively we have been good in the past and I would expect us to be good again this season,” Flood said. “We lost two good defenders last year so we’ll be looking for those to step up and be our top two defenders this season.”
The Lions gave up just over 37 points a game a season ago.
For a team that has been playing together for a while now, Flood said one of the team’s strengths is its chemistry.
“I think our strength is our togetherness,” he said. “This is a group of girls that get along both on and off the court, which makes life easier for everyone involved.”
Flood said a weakness is its inside scoring as well as the team’s speed.
The Lions have the scorers, the defense and the experience for success, but one thing Flood said that could make or break this season is its ability to close out games.
“In all honesty, I’m not too sure where we’ll fall,” Flood said when asked about where he sees his team finishing in the Flyway. “I look at this season and as I was looking, I thought we would have a lot of close games. So it’s really going to depend on how well we’re able to execute on those close ball games.”