Girl’s basketball preview

Mac Strobel

  Soph. Alia Mares catches an inbound pass from Jr. Audrey Pohl, spins and sprints up the court with her quick dribbling and foot speed pulling her ahead of Zeeland East Chix defenders for a bucket. This great play was one of many for the Panthers but they will need more than just some good plays; the Panthers will need to have these four key elements for success this season.

Scoring Presence: For the Panthers, their scoring will be generated off of many different offenses such as motion or pick and roll based offenses.  In any of these sets, they will look to get the ball to Soph. Alia Mares, their starting point guard. A key to success for the Panthers is Mares’ ability to score. Ball handling and quickness will be necessary as she provides an essential role beating traps and driving to the hoop. Although a lot of the Panthers points will be coming off of these set plays, their defense does create offensive opportunities. The Panthers create turnovers in a pressing defense which creates a transition game where Mares can find lanes and drive for layups.

Strong Defense: Another key to success for the Panthers will be a defensive presence. Natalie Dunn plays a key role here as she provided an astounding performance in the game against Zeeland East. Dunn’s defense was especially critical in the second half of the game as she guarded Zeeland’s Jr. Sophie Riemersma. Riemersma had scored 19 points in the first half to give the Chix a lead over West Ottawa, but in the second half, the Panthers placed Dunn on Riemersma and Dunn held her to only 8 points. Dunn guarded Riemersma’s dominant hand and forced her to play to her weaker left side. Dunn not only slowed down Riemersma but also had four blocks in the game.

   Leadership: A third key to success for the Panthers will come as strong leadership develops from within the ranks of the team. On a young team, two players have begun to take on this role, Jr. Maria Price, and Jr. Caiya Dewitt.  Coach Jeff Bauer does not believe in captains but certainly recognizes that leaders emerge, and one way that leaders emerge is through their work in practice. Bauer mentioned both Price and Dewitt as players that “have a lot of energy and set the tone during practice.¨ Their leadership and energy was evident in their first game at Zeeland East when they took control in the locker room. According to Soph. Rachel Elms,”Both Price and Dewitt spoke to motivate the team before Bauer got in the locker room.” Look for Dewitt and Price to lead the team throughout the season and overcome the team’s  inexperience.

  Overcoming Youth:  “I think our biggest struggle will be our inexperience,” Bauer said. This year’s girls varsity team will be starting two underclassmen in most games and has only one senior. This might be a problem as young teams often struggle with nerves as they begin their seasons, and this just may have happened in their first game; “Throughout the game the score would’ve been more balanced if we could have just executed better,”Mares said. The Panthers missed approximately 17 layups in the game to lose 46-36. Despite this, we hope they can bounce back. The Panthers although starting two underclassmen both have been there before; both Dunn and Mares are returning varsity players giving them the edge over a usual underclassmen.


The Panthers next home game is December 17 against the Hamilton Hawkeyes so come out and support as you look for these three keys.