2017-11-23 / Sports

Senior-led Eagles eager to compete

Tipoff: Tuesday @ Alba
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

ST. MARY basketball players line up for a staged photo inside the gym Monday afternoon. Pictured from left are Lexi Schaub, Hanna Grant, Breanna Weber, Jenna Sumner, Nicole Wittman, Alexandra Kirt, Shannon Popp, Lindsey Fleis, and Annalea Hobbins. ST. MARY basketball players line up for a staged photo inside the gym Monday afternoon. Pictured from left are Lexi Schaub, Hanna Grant, Breanna Weber, Jenna Sumner, Nicole Wittman, Alexandra Kirt, Shannon Popp, Lindsey Fleis, and Annalea Hobbins.

Team: St. Mary
Coach: Pete Finch
2016-17: 12-7 (2-2)
Returning Players 8
Returning Starters: 3
Dream Teamers: 1
Identity: Strong defensively; best in transition; improved inside; versatile

Preseason prognostication means little to Lake Leelanau St. Mary senior Nicole Wittman and her teammates.

That said, a little swagger can go a long way and — with six seniors on the roster — the Eagles seem to have it.

Who is the best team in the district?

“Can I say us?” Wittman asked with a laugh. “We’ll go with that.”

Frankfort ended St. Mary’s run in the district tournament 42-30 last year, but the Lady Eagles appear primed to contend for the trophy this time around.

Wittman is one of eight returners and three returning starters from last year’s 12-7 team. Two senior guards, Hanna Grant and Lexi Schaub, are expected to join Wittman in the starting rotation — a rotation that could change.

“We have 11 starters,” St. Mary coach Pete Finch said of his program, which has put together back-to-back 12-win seasons. “We can start almost any mix of the five because of how they play together.”

Easy buckets will be hard to come by for St. Mary opponents this winter. The Eagles surrendered just 29.9 points per game last year, scoring 35.4.

Grant, who recently signed her national letter of intent to run cross country at Aquinas College, poured in 9.6 points per game as a junior.

Last season, the team was at its best in transition and when fundamentally strong defensive play led to easy points in transition.

It’s safe to say opponents should prepare for a balanced scoring attack.

“Everyone is embracing their role,” Finch said of his girls. “They all know they can score and they all know they can play defense.”

He may be confident in his team, but he’s not about to provide bulletin-board material for other teams in the district.

“The longer I coach the calmer I am. Let’s let our actions do the talkin’ for us,” he said. “The girls learned that. We had a really nice start to the season last year and the tougher part of the schedule and injuries at the end. We didn’t finish how we wanted and that left a bad taste.”

The team will tip off at Alba Tuesday.

Return to top