If success can be measured in terms of enthusiasm, the Menahga girls’ basketball team may be on the verge of a breakout season.
“We're really excited about this season in girls’ basketball here in Menahga,” said Lady Braves’ head coach Steve Schreiber. “I've got a group of girls that have won at every level they've played at and now they're 9th graders and are ready for the challenge of varsity basketball.”
Menahga graduated five seniors from last year, but also played five eighth-graders, so those girls are coming back with the experience and confidence they gained last year.
Seniors Jen Stifter and Dani Novak return to lead the Lady Braves.
“Jen has been a three-year starter and has typically played point guard,” Schreiber explained. “The plan is to move her to the ‘three’ this year and see if we can't highlight more scoring opportunities for her.
“Dani was hurt most of the year last year, but had a solid sophomore year and will give us some size.”
Schreiber added that junior Lindsay Hendrickson really worked hard over the summer and is coming into her own as both a driving threat, post up threat and three point threat. Sophomore Leah Schwartz didn't play much on varsity last year, but had a very solid JV season and should add good things both on offense and on defense.
Freshman Aimee Lake will take over at point guard this year.
“This is a position she filled as a 7th grader for three games when Jen got hurt and would've probably taken it last year if it wasn't for a bad ankle injury,” Schreiber said.
As for the rest of the freshman group, Alyssa Peterson will pair up with Cierra Ahlf to make a dynamic defensive two-some.
“All three of those 9th graders have the capabilities of going off for 20+ points any given night, stated Schreiber.
“The wildcard will be Megan Hendickson who brings some amazing defense to go with her upgraded offense.”
Late in the year, fans may get a glimpse of some younger girls as well, including eighth-grader Tara Hendrickson and possibly seventh-grader Martha Peterson.
Menahga’s strengths will be in its ability to play very tough, full court man-to-man defense and its transition on offense.
“The biggest thing this young group will need to work on is our ability to run an offense if we don't score in transition,” said Schreiber. “Our other weakness will be size, but we're used to that here in Menahga.
“I think the biggest thing people will see in this team is its ability to score a lot of points. Our goal this year is to be competitive with some of the best teams in the state. We could have one of the toughest schedules I've ever had as a coach. We play Verndale, Sebeka and New York Mills each twice, Browerville/Eagle Valley once and the number one team in the state, Maranatha Christian once. All of those teams have the capabilities to make it to state.
“Not only are my young girls not afraid, but they're excited for this challenge. Many of these girls are coming off a trip to state in cross country and would love to get this basketball team there as well in the near future.”
Schreiber sees Verndale and Sebeka as the top teams in the Park Region Conference this year, with a slight edge going to Verndale if the Glenz girls stay healthy.
In the section it's Browerville/Eagle Valley, Verndale, Sebeka and newcomer Cromwell that will all be very tough.
“I'm excited to get going,” exclaimed Schreiber.