2017-11-23 / Sports

North Bay to lean on defense early

Tipoff: Wednesday @ Bear Lake

Jim Champion still isn’t sure what to expect from his North Bay girls — but he likes what he’s seen thus far.

“The defense dominates in practice,” Champion said. “Whether that will be the same against people they’re not familiar with, I’m not sure, but our defense has the edge.”

That’s no surprise considering the quartet of returning Northport players, all of whom contributed to a Cherryland Conference championship less than a year ago.

Senior guard Jasmin Denny, senior guard Sarah Reynolds and sophomore forward Lindsey Somero join reigning Leelanau County scoring leader Joan Ogemaw, a senior forward, in the new-look North Bay program.

The other nine girls on the roster are Suttons Bay students, Champion said. Among them is junior guard Sydney Deadman, who has experience as a starter.

“The Northport girls were real successful last year, but they’re going to have to step up to the Northwest Conference talent level,” he said. “I think that’s going to be a challenge for them, but our biggest challenge is that the girls don’t all show up at the same time. They’ve got so many things going on that, so far, our biggest hurdle has been getting everyone to practice together.”

A key to success this year, Champion said, will be leadership. He is the third coach the Northport girls have had since the start of last season. Suttons Bay girls, meanwhile, are now without the familiarity of David Wheelock, who stepped down.

“It’s a huge adjustment for them, adjusting to me, but I couldn’t ask for more so far,” Champion said. “They’ve just had great attitudes and are getting to know each other.”

Champion has sought the services of a former Suttons Bay coach, Laurie LaCross, to coach the JV team.

“She’s awesome,” he said.

North Bay will begin its season at Bear Lake on Wednesday.

Team: North Bay
Coach: Jim Champion
2016-17 Northport: 13-5 (3-1)
2016-17 Suttons Bay: 5-16 (3-13)
Returning Players: 10 combined
Returning Starters: 5 combined
Dream Teamers: 1 combined
Identity: To be determined

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