Does momentum have a shelf life of eight months?
The Livonia Stevenson girls basketball team is about to find out.
Back in March, the Spartans capped an improvement-laced season by winning a Class A district championship after enduring a challenging regular season in the ultra-competitive KLAA Central Division.
The feel-good effort can’t do anything but help the Spartans as they get set to tip off their 2015-16 season this week.
“Toward the end of last season we were really coming together as a team, especially in the post,” said senior co-captain Paige Ackman. “We have four returning post players, so that will definitely help us down low.”
“I think the momentum and excitement we built up at the end of last year will carry over to this season,” agreed Audrey Stahrr, who will share the captaincy responsibilities with Ackman. “We got better as the season went on last year and we have a lot of players back, so that will be a positive.”
The No. 1 concern for the Spartans — at least during the early portion of the schedule — is lighting up the scoreboard, said Stevenson head coach Tim Newman.
“We lost Arryn Dochenetz to graduation and she is the one we turned to a lot last year when we needed a big basket,” Newman said. “We’re going to have to find another scorer, hopefully sooner than later.”
Joining Ackman and Stahrr — both of whom are 6-foot post players — in the front-court mix will be 5-foot-9 Amanda Schultz, 6-footer Ashley Lupinski (who was sidelined most of last season by an injury) and 5-8 junior Kelly Newman, the daughter of Tim.
“It’s a solid group of post players and they’re all vying for a starting spot,” said Newman. “They proved last year that they’re good rebounders, but they have to developed a scorer’s mentality.”
Led by returning junior starters Grace Lamerson and Diane Senkowski, both of whom measure out at around 5-9, the Spartans’ back-court is quick, long-armed and committed to playing lights-out defense.
“I’m very comfortable with out back-court,” said Newman. “They’ve really been working on their shooting, so hopefully they can elevate their offense.”
Joining Lamerson and Senkowski in the Spartans’ three-guard set-up is expected to be sophomore Sarah Tanderys (5-3), who enjoyed a stellar season at the junior-varsity level last winter.
Providing valuable depth for Stevenson will be juniors Jackie Green, Hailey Gorsuch, Casey Baldwin, Kait Pense and sisters Brie and Alyssa Maas.
“They’re definitely going to have to give us some quality minutes as the season goes on,” Newman assured.
The KLAA Central Division figures to be as tough as ever, with reigning champion Salem “the odds on favorite” to win it again, Newman forecasted.
“After Salem, there’s Novi and Northville, and then the rest of us,” he said. “I like playing in a competitive division like this because that’s the only way you’re going to get better.”