It’s report card time. Are you trying to hide it, or are you ready to show everyone with a big smile on your face?
There’s a little bit of both this time of the year for area girls’ basketball teams. As programs take a look at themselves and grade how they did in the first half of the year, some are happy with the progress report, some… not so much.
So because it is the mid-season point for the girls basketball season, the Enquirer is going to hand out its mid-season report card, evaluating where each of the teams in the city stand currently. We are also getting some help from the city coaches as they take a look at their own team and evaluate where they stand.
The Enquirer will do the same thing next week for the city boys basketball teams.
In both cases, we will look at each team from the standpoint of where they are on the season compared to where they thought they might be. Since the teams all hit the court in the beginning of December, this is just about the right time to look at where the teams are as they work toward a possible postseason run in March.
The grades handed out today are a window into where each of the squads stand currently. But where they go from here is up to them and the final grades will only be determined by the overall records and what happens at the end of the year for each team.
Battle Creek Central
Expectations: Battle Creek Central had hopes it would be able to continue to improve as a program as the Bearcats made strides last year by going 6-15. However, with graduation losses, Battle Creek Central lost more than 80-percent of its scoring and rebounding. That meant the Bearcats were in a rebuilding mode once again heading into this season. That rebuilding hasn’t gone as fast as the program would like as BCC has started out the season at 1-9, including seven straight losses to open the year.
Midseason Grade – Incomplete: It is hard to give BCC a grade for the first half of the season, since it didn’t have key parts of the squad and will be a much different team by the time the season ends. The issue facing BCC was that two players expected to be in the playing rotation have barely played this season so far. The Bearcats have an All-City caliber player on the roster in England Bennett, who transferred in from Pennfield. But due to a knee injury, she has just recently returned to the court and is still a few weeks away from being 100 percent. BCC was also hoping to gain some size and some outside shooting with the addition of 5-foot-11 Alyssa Miller, a transfer from Ohio. Her first game was Wednesday of this week. If those two players can contribute to the efforts already put out by junior playmaker Tamera Gills, BCC could be a much better different team in the second half of the season.
Expectations: With a first-year head coach, but a veteran team on the floor, there was a mix of expectations at the start of the year for Harper Creek. Terri Tchorzynski had taken over the Harper Creek program and was bringing in her own style of play. With a playing group with a lot of starting experience coming off a 14-8 season, the Beavers hoped things would mesh early. That is what happened. Harper Creek started the season at 1-2, but have won five straight games since and are in contention in the Interstate 8 Conference.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to become comfortable with a new offensive and defensive philosophy, and learn ways to create opportunities within those schemes. With a new coach, there are always changes that players will have to work to adapt to, so we had goals of catching on to those changes quickly and still have a successful season,” Tchorzynski said.
Midseason Grade – B-plus: Harper Creek is right where it wants to be. With veterans such as Olivia Leson and Reagan Dishaw, the Beavers know how to win the close games and have done so early on. With one of the top athletes in the region in Charley Andrews, Harper Creek has the tools to make a run at the conference title. However, the challenge going forward will be the schedule with two games still left against Marshall, as well as non-conference games with Lakeview and Kalamazoo Central.
“We have done well on working on improving our game, but we are still not to the point where we are completely satisfied. There is still room for improvement – especially as we face off against some of the top teams in our league,” Tchorzysnki said.
Expectations: After coming off the school’s first-ever Class A district title, the expectations were high for Lakeview. However, a closer look saw that the Spartans had also graduated five seniors, including four starters. So the reality was that Lakeview was going to be a work in progress in the early going this season. That being said, Lakeview has opened the year at 6-2 and is just a game out of first place in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division.
“I knew it would take us time to figure out how to score and defend with our new team, this season. We have played really well, early. Perhaps, better then I could have imagined. But, we still have a lot of developing and growth, to do,” Lakeview coach Don Bussler said.
Midseason Grade – B: The players returning from that district title have kept Lakeview at a winning level in the first half of the year. Returners Ava Cook, Emily Eldridge, Jessalyn Genier and Margo Miller bring experience to the floor and have played well. The Spartans have also received a boost from two newcomers in Kalista Hubbart and Sunshine Johnson. Lakeview could take another step when it adds Chloe McAllister to the mix, a transfer from Marshall who is eligible for the second half of the season.
“This team is very capable of playing well and contending. My team has been good, therefore I would give them a B. We need to, and will, get better,” Bussler said.
Expectations: Most of the starting group from last year returned for Pennfield, bringing with them high expectations for this season. However, even though those players saw playing time last year, they were still young with only three seniors on the team. The Panthers also suffered a big loss as All-City performer England Bennett transferred to Battle Creek Central in the spring. Overall, however the Pennfield girls came into this season with high expectations and that hasn’t changed, according to Coach Dic Doumanian, despite a rough start.
“We’ve struggled a bit so far and a lot of that I think has to do with being so young,” stated Doumanian. “With six sophomores and a freshman to go with our three seniors we’ve struggled with consistency.”
Midseason Grade – C: Pennfield started the season the right way by going 2-1 through the middle of December. But since then, the Panthers have been 1-5 as they dove into Interstate 8 Conference play. Three of those losses were against the top teams in the league, but if Pennfield wants to climb the standings, those are the kinds of games they will have to improve on in the second half. A positive is that Pennfield is getting a balanced effort. Claire LeRoux leads the team in scoring and steals. Naomi Davis leads the way in assists and is second in scoring, with Bri Abercrombie tops in rebounds and Rachel Swartz leads the way in blocks.
“I think we are close, we’ve showed that in several of our games, so hopefully we can get to a high level of play and maintain it,” Doumanian said.
Expectations: Under Tony Warren, St. Philip continues to contend for league and district titles each year. The Tigers won a conference crown and a district title last year, and with three starters returning, the expectations were to be at that level again. After a sluggish start against good competition, creating an 0-2 start, St. Philip is 7-1 since then and in contention in the SCAA. The solid core of Megan Gordon, Nina Winkler and Cameron Haley have the Tigers looking to reach all of their goals.
“We have gradually improved and I am pleased with the fortitude the girls have displayed midway through the season. We are currently in second place in the SCAA with several tough conference games remaining,” Warren said.
Midseason Grade – B-plus: Currently, St. Philip sits behind rivals Climax-Scotts and Bellevue in the standings, but the Tigers have games against both of those teams still on the schedule. With only two seniors on the squad, a lot can be said for the depth and strength of the overall program.
“We have met my preseason expectations. We must continue to elevate are level of play if we want to achieve our goal of winning a conference title. The Fighting Tigers consistently display an exceptional work ethic and attention to detail during practice and film sessions,” Warren said.
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or email@example.com . Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick