Girls basketball team from Grayling High School gets ready for 2017-2018 season
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity girls basketball team – a group with four seniors, six juniors, and two sophomores – started its official practice sessions last week after a productive offseason, and the Vikings are looking to run, run, run.
“Our greatest strength is our depth,” Coach Joe Powers said. “We have great girls and we have numbers. We will try and take advantage of our depth by running a very fast-paced game both offensively and defensively. Our goal is to win the game in four quarters by wearing the other team down.”
This year’s squad will consist of: (seniors) Mallory Hatfield, Ryleigh White, Olivia Schreiber, Ellie Carr; (juniors) Esabella Powers, Madison Longendyke, Abby Pippin, Hailey Hartman, Trinity Hatfield, Tiffany Cook; (sophomores) Jasmine Denton, Isabel Duba.
Coach Powers said the group was able to compete in games during the summer and work on their skills at two camps.
“We played a lot of games this summer to have the team gel and to put it a new system. We created a local league and area schools took turns hosting so that it would be close and convenient for the surrounding schools. We also went to two team camps at Alpena Community College and Mason County Central,” Coach Powers said.
“We were able to play a lot and see quite a few teams. Especially at Mason County Central, we were able to play some very good teams from downstate that we wouldn’t normally be able to see. We had great numbers for the girls for summer ball. We accomplished a lot in the summer, which we restrict just to the month of June so that kids can be kids,” Coach Powers said. “It was a great time for our kids.”
Coach Powers said the offseason work is already paying off during the squad’s early practice sessions.
“The first week of practice has been very good. The benefits of summer camp have already been evident as our greatest chore right now is getting in shape and getting our basketball legs. The girls are committed and working hard,” Coach Powers said.
Key to success this year? Defense, according to the squad’s coach.
“If we can be successful with our swarming defense, we’ll be okay,” Coach Powers said.
“Our greatest challenge will be our skill work. Shooting proficiency is an area for improvement and we’re dedicating a lot of time to work on our shooting. Fundamentals have a major portion of all practices,” Coach Powers said.
Powers, superintendent for the Crawford AuSable School District, is now starting his second stint as coach of the varsity girls basketball program at Grayling High School. He coached the team for three years from 2010-2011 through 2012-2013.
“I’m excited to be coaching and working with our youth again. Love coaching and working with our student-athletes,” he said.
The Vikings will open their 2017-2018 season with a nonconference game at Roscommon High School on Tuesday, Nov. 28. The contest will follow the Grayling vs. Roscommon JV girls basketball contest slated for a 6 p.m. tip-off. The Grayling girls will host Lake City – also a nonconference opponent – at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1.
The varsity girls basketball team will play in its first Lake Michigan Conference game of the season on Friday, Dec. 15, in Grayling at 5:30 p.m.
The Vikings will likely have several tough tests again this year in a strong Lake Michigan Conference.
“We definitely have some of the best teams in the north with (Traverse City St. Francis), (Kalkaska), and Charlevoix and Elk Rapids will be very good again as well. We have a tall order playing our league teams. We’ll compete each and every day,” Coach Powers said.
Coach Powers said the group’s goal is to concentrate on its play and win a district title at the end of the year.
“Our measuring stick is on how we perform. We’re going to worry about our own performance each and every day. Our goal this season is to win the first girls basketball district ever for (Grayling High School),” Coach Powers said.